The Muscular Dystrophy Community Assistance, Research, and Education Amendments (MD-CARE Act) of 2001 (Public Law 107-84) aimed to expand and intensify research on muscular dystrophies (MDs). The Act included language directing the NIH to establish centers of excellence for research on these diseases. The Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Centers (MDCRC) program was later named in honor of Senator Paul D. Wellstone, a champion of MD research, as the Paul D. Wellstone MDCRCs.
The goal of the Wellstone MDCRCs is to foster the translation of new scientific findings and technological developments into novel treatments for the MDs. The MDCRCs promote basic, translational, and clinical research and provide important resources that can be used by the national muscle biology and neuromuscular research communities.
The six U.S. Centers are funded through the U54 mechanism by the NICHD's Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Branch (IDDB); the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases; the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The NICHD currently funds two Centers. In addition to funding the two MDCRCs through the U54 mechanism, the NICHD supports research and training on MD through several other mechanisms.
Each MDCRC serves as a focal point for research collaborations in the MD field and provides training and advice about MD for basic and clinical researchers. The Centers also engage MD patients and patient advocates in educational programs.
Centers include one or more scientific research resource cores that support the specific MDCRC projects and serve as a resource for the international MD research community. Current NICHD-funded cores that serve the research community include:
The MDCRCs study several types of MDs, including (but not limited to):
Researchers at the Wellstone MDCRCs engage in a variety of research activities to advance promising approaches for the treatment of MDs, including: