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The Raynor Cerebellum Project, a part of The Once Upon a Time Foundation, Announces Two Grants for $1 Million Each and The Upcoming 2024 Big Ideas Summit.


November 20, 2023

The Raynor Cerebellum Project, a part of The Once Upon a Time Foundation, Announces Two Grants
for $1 Million Each and The Upcoming 2024 Big Ideas Summit.

The Raynor Cerebellum Project aims to improve the lives of individuals with Cerebellar Disease in the next
seven to ten years, through new research initiatives and the fostering of a research culture of collaboration
between labs at multiple institutions across multiple disciplines. The RCP is an experiment in “goal-oriented
science,” with success defined by whether participants’ collective work improves patients’ lives, without
necessarily knowing why therapies are working in the time frame we have set. The RCP is funding truly new
research initiatives — not simply a continuation or extension of labs’ current research programs. Investigators
must be able to explicitly “connect the dots” from what they propose to RCP’s strategic goal.

The grant awards result from 60 Letters of Intent submitted in response to a Request for Applications that was
issued in March 2023.

  • A team led by Dr. Jörn Diedrichsen of the University of Western Ontario received $1M over 3 years to
    develop a “growth chart” for the human cerebellum across the entire lifespan from birth to 80 years.
    They will deliver an analysis pipeline that can be used widely to age-specific norms of the development
    of cerebella from full-term and pre-term infants, divided according to the different functional
    compartments of the cerebellum. The analysis pipeline will allow clinicians across different institutes to
    estimate the influence of specific clinical risk factors informed by a large population of neurotypically
    developing children. In children born prematurely, they will predict further anatomical and behavioral
    development in motor, social, language, and executive domains.
  • A team led by Dr. Panagiotis Kratimenos of the George Washington University received $1M over 3
    years to characterize fully the molecular and immunological profile of cerebella from children born from
    24 weeks of gestation through full term. Their studies will provide a comprehensive understanding of
    how preterm birth drives the risk of developing an abnormal cerebellar connectome. The use of human
    cerebellar tissues for neuropathological and molecular bioenergetic analyses, together with advanced
    computational neuroimmune approaches, present a unique lens to study cerebellar injury in human
    preterm neonates. Results from their studies will play a crucial role in developing appropriate
    prevention and/or therapeutic strategies for neurodevelopmental abnormalities involving the

The second annual Raynor Cerebellum Project gathering —the 2024 RCP Big Ideas Summit — will explore
strategies for non-invasive and invasive neuromodulation of the cerebellum as a therapeutic strategy. The Big
Ideas Summits are a different experience than typical research conferences, focused not on the presentation of
papers, but on the facilitation of a free exchange of ideas between the best scientists in the world who
represent a wide cross section of fields pivotal in advancing cerebellar research. At the next Big Ideas Summit,
experts in brain stimulation, device development, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and different forms of
non-invasive stimulation will convene with experts in cerebellar circuit function in health and disease.

$10 million of funding is available — the goal will be to seed the formation of 1 or 2 groups that will receive up
to $5M of funding each for collaborative, interdisciplinary approaches to manipulate the cerebellar circuit and/or
its associated pathways for therapeutic benefits. The Summit will be held at a stunning location, Sanctuary
Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa, located in Scottsdale, Arizona, April 9-12, 2024. The choice of this
inspiring location was deliberate as we aim not only to foster new interactions between researchers and
clinicians from different disciplines, but also hope to inspire creative new ideas with one of the nation’s most
spectacular landscapes as the backdrop. Applications to attend are open now and can be found at the Raynor
Cerebellum Project website

Together, under the leadership of the Governing Board, the RCP plans for over $100 million in funding.

  • The RCP’s parent organization — The Once Upon a Time Foundation, a $250 million Foundation
    based in Fort Worth, Texas — has allocated $30 million to the RCP.
  • This is in addition to the $14 million that has already been funded to launch the Raynor Cerebellum
    Lab at UT Southwestern.
  • The RCP anticipates raising an additional $50 million through additional commitments from the
    Once Upon a Time Foundation as well as building outside partnerships with other funding sources.
  • Funding will also be provided for an annual Post-Doc/Graduate version of the Big Ideas Summit – to
    allow a place for those younger but exceptional future leaders to gather and exchange ideas to help
    push the mission goal forward. The first annual event will take place in Fall 2024.

To read more about the mission behind the Raynor Cerebellum Project please access the PDF linked below.

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