Pictured here: Grant with his daughter Kate Finlayson, the inspiration behind Team Hydro. Along with his wife Pam and sons Peter and Sam, Grant keeps Team Hydro moving on the quest to find and fund a cure for hydrocephalus. You can support the cause HERE.
Our family is heading to SF this week, where on Saturday at 8:30am my wife Pam and sons Peter & Sam will jump into the frigid waters of the San Francisco Bay for Team Hydro’s annual Alcatraz Swim for Hydrocephalus Research!
I am pleased to report that, over the past year, Team Hydro’s research efforts have continued to have tremendous impact. A recap of 2022-23 highlights:
- Team Hydro funded four new “seed” grants (Innovator Awards organized by the Hydrocephalus Association, for which Pam serves on the board of directors and our son Sam serves on the research screening committee). For info on these new grants see (link).
- This brings Team Hydro’s funded grants to date to a total of 17, for an aggregate of more than $1 Million in grant funding. These grants have been awarded to 15 different researchers across three continents, and affiliated with 11 world class research institutions including among others Harvard University, Washington University of St. Louis, Indiana University, University of Queensland (Australia), University of California at San Diego, Wayne State University, Loma Linda University, and University of Patras (Greece).
- Team Hydro’s seed grants have achieved extraordinary multiplier effects, with the first $1 Million in funded research to date collectively qualifying for follow-on funding of more than $20 Million in major awards by NIH and DoD to multiple Team Hydro grantees — an aggregate multiplier of over 20x (up from 7x a year ago).
- One of our superstar grantees, Dr. Bonnie Blazer-Yost (recipient of two Team Hydro grants in 2015 and 2022) recently received major additional follow-on funding of $11.7 Million from DoD. (link)
- Building on these grants, Indiana University has announced plans to launch a dedicated Hydrocephalus Research Center to be led by Dr. Blazer-Yost — which we believe is the first such dedicated research center in the world. (link)
- Just this past week, it was announced that a second compound (utilizing SGK1 inhibitors) developed by Dr. Blazer-Yost’s research has been granted a patent by the US Patent Office. (link). Like her first patented compound (utilizing TRPV4 inhibitors), this one will also now move into clinical trials on the path to approval by the FDA for non-surgical treatment of Hydrocephalus (i.e., a pill to reduce CSF production, potentially enabling treatment without the surgical placement of high risk shunt devices).
- Another super-star researcher, Dr Carolyn Harris was the recipient of a Team Hydro-enabled grant in 2020 to study the differences in how immune cells in the brain react after a shunt is placed. Earlier this year, Dr Harris secured nearly $3M in follow-on funding from the NIH to continue that research! This funding will allow her team at Wayne State to decipher how and why shunts are failing – from what tissue source and what those cells are doing – and then importantly how to prevent that from happening. Inspired by her successes, she’s also founding a startup company to build a more physiologic valve for patients!
- Dr. Ryann Fame, a brilliant young scientist who conducted cutting-edge research on cerebrospinal fluid (CSF, the complex system that becomes disrupted with Hydrocephalus) as a post-doctoral fellow under a Team Hydro grant to the Lehtinen lab at Children’s Hospital in Boston, has been appointed Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at Stanford Medical School. (link) Dr. Fame will now lead her own laboratory at Stanford, focusing on the CSF system and Hydrocephalus and funded in part by another Innovator Award this year. Dr. Fame, who is an open water swimmer, will also personally join us for the Alcatraz Swim this Saturday! (She previously completed several Team Hydro swims with us across the Boston Harbor.)
We are so proud and grateful that Team Hydro has been been able to play a small role in encouraging Dr. Blazer-Yost, Dr. Fame, Dr. Harris, and a growing number of additional brilliant scientific innovators (link) to bring their training, talents and passion to the challenge of solving Hydrocephalus. This has been the dream for Team Hydro from the beginning — to encourage a new generation of our most promising researchers to apply their talents to improve scientific understanding, develop better treatments, and ultimately find a cure for this tragic condition that has has been neglected for so long.
We are pleased to note that Team Hydro has been able to apply its limited resources with extraordinary efficiency and careful stewardship:
- With all overhead provided on a volunteer basis, we honor our commitment to donors that 100% of donations go directly to research
- By partnering with our good friends at the internationally prominent Hydrocephalus Association, which runs a request for proposals each year, we gain access to a remarkable pipeline of world-class research proposals — with Team Hydro enjoying the right to select for funding the proposals that we are convinced have the greatest potential for outsized impact
- As noted above, the quality and impact of Team Hydro-funded research is reflected in the tremendous follow-on funding multiplier we have witnessed: more than 20x to date, and continuing to rise as more funded projects mature.
We are thrilled to welcome for the Team Hydro Alcatraz Swim this year one of our largest groups of dedicated swimmers ever, including the entire Stanford Water Polo team (link), the Malvern Prep (PA) water polo team (link), members of the San Ramon Valley High School water polo team, as noted one of our distinguished grant recipients (go Professor Fame!), and we will again be joined by a remarkable athlete who lives with shunted hydrocephalus (go Kate Damrell!), as well as friends and family members of other heroic hydrocephalus patients.
We also continue to be grateful for the dedication of local age group swim teams that sponsor fundraising events for Team Hydro: in particular, we salute the Dorset Dolphin swim team of Marietta, Georgia (link), which hosts the “Dolphin Dash” each year to raise funds and awareness for Hydrocephalus research (our love and gratitude to the Beck family, whose inspirational daughter Lilly swims — and lives each day — with shunted hydrocephalus). The successful 6th annual Dolphin Dash completed this summer brought the total contribution from local swim team events to Team Hydro’s research funds over the $100,000 mark.
We applaud and celebrate the efforts of all of these swimmers to help spread the word: using their strength as swimmers to do good, and tapping their networks to raise awareness and funding for the cause. We believe they will be great champions and ambassadors for Hydrocephalus research into the future.
Finally, with great gratitude for your generous support, we note the following milestones in our overall fund- and awareness-raising efforts:
- Team Hydro’s total funds raised has now surpassed the $1.5 Million mark
- Since inception, Team Hydro has received generous donations from approx. 10,000 contributors — a metric of our collective success in the key goal of spreading awareness!
- The recent liquidation of an (anonymous) in-kind donation of a private equity fund interest brought its contribution to Team Hydro to more than $300,000 — our largest single donation to date.
The great success that we have been blessed with is giving us confidence to be able to deploy effectively a larger amount of funding going forward. So if you are in a position to help — with personal donations, in-kind donations, and/or recommendations for other sources of support — we will continue to be extremely grateful!
Whether it is for $3 or $300,000, every donation is a precious treasure to us: a genuine expression of your love, empathy and respect for those who suffer, and a commitment to do what we can to make things better for those who struggle with tremendous pain and constant impending tragedy.
Thank you again for your friendship and support for this important cause! If you are in a position to do so and feel so inspired, Pam’s fundraising page can be found here.
Chief Towelholding Officer
Team Hydro Foundation