The Robert Packard Center is a collaboration of scientists worldwide, working aggressively to develop new treatments for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The Center is the only international organization of its kind dedicated solely to the disease. Its mission is to translate laboratory breakthroughs to the clinic as quickly as possible. While The Robert Packard Center exists within the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in Baltimore, MD, more than 70 percent of its ALS investigators are from other institutions across the U.S. and abroad. The Packard Center is 100% funded through private philanthropy and while it is associated with the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Packard receives no Hopkins funding.
More information about the Packard Center can be found by visiting www.alscenter.org.
Who we are and how we operate
The Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins is a virtual research center that brings together the labs and expertise of investigators from around the world to collaboratively study ALS biology and pathogenesis and to develop animal and cellular models of the disease. Founded in 2001 by noted neurologist and researcher, Dr. Jeffrey Rothstein as part of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the Packard Center’s virtual nature allows it to identify and invite researchers located throughout the United States and Europe to be a part of its strategic, collaborative network.
The Packard Center is focused on innovation, collaboration and results. Their grants are often used as seed money, allowing investigators to formulate the data required to apply for larger government funded research grants. The Center’s focus is on innovation, collaboration and results.
- Packard investigators are chosen after a highly selective, invitation-only grant process.
- Once a grant is awarded and funding is established, investigators must stay in good standing by fulfilling all requirements and milestones.
- Investigators are required to attend monthly meetings (at least three out of ten) throughout the year (Hopkins-based researchers must attend eight). These meetings are required brainstorming sessions where grantees, advisors and colleagues share ideas and critique one anothers’ work.
- Each spring, an annual symposium brings the entire Center together. Investigators are expected to attend and present their progress, which is evaluated by the scientific advisors. At all meetings, investigators are required to share new, unpublished data in a collaborative format.
- A research program coordinator monitors each investigator and ensures compliance and reporting on a timely basis.
To date, the Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins has invested more than $23 million, funding 106 research projects, with several new grants pending. Research grants are awarded throughout the year on a flexible time frame, with the idea that rapid funding fosters innovative ideas.
The Center’s directors set short-term goals as well as long-range ones and keep close watch on progress. A Scientific Advisory Board of internationally prominent scientists with expertise in basic cell biology, neurodegeneration, clinical investigation and the workings of the biopharmaceutical industry, evaluates investigators’ work annually to keep it on track. This board also oversees the Center’s research agenda and reviews all research grants. The Center takes its approach to ALS research seriously and uses funding wisely; if a research path turns unproductive, support stops.
Contact the Robert Packard Center
How the grant process works
Prospective investigators must be invited to submit a proposal and must be endorsed by the director, science director, a Center advisor, investigator, or affiliate. Unsolicited applications are not accepted. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the funding year. Applicants submit proposals electronically to the Center’s research program coordinator. Proposals are then reviewed by the science director, director, and the Center’s internal (Johns Hopkins) Operating Committee. If accepted, proposals are finally reviewed by an external reviewer, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board.
Even if a project is favorably received, it must be weighed in the context of the budget for each fiscal year, so the administrative director must also give approval before a project is funded. The Center always has more applications than it can fund, so occasionally projects must be denied, or deferred, because of funding limitations. However, the Center usually finds a way to fit in extremely worthy projects.
Where is the Packard Center located?
The Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins is a center “without walls.” While many scientists are conducting basic science and clinical research at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, there are many more scientists working at other institutions such as Harvard University, Louisiana State University, Northwestern University, Stanford University, to name just a few. The Center embraces any high-caliber organization where scientists are working toward the mission of halting or finding the cure for ALS.