The Centers of Excellence program in muscular dystrophy research was established by NIH in 2003, in honor of the late Senator Paul D. Wellstone of Minnesota.
Established as part of the NIH enhancement and intensification of muscular dystrophy research associated with the MD-CARE Act, the centers are supported by five-year, renewable grants. The following NIH Institutes participate in the Wellstone Centers Program:
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Each Center involves several research projects and core facilities with an emphasis on translational and clinical research for various muscular dystrophies. Each Center has at least one core facility that shares its services or resources with the muscular dystrophy research community, nationwide. These Centers serve as focal points for research collaborations, training and communication.
Collectively the centers are engaged in research on:
- myotonic dystrophy
- other forms of muscular dystrophy
They are exploring promising approaches for treatment of these diseases including:
- stem cell
- small molecule drugs
- molecular genetic therapies
A Steering Committee, composed of the Directors and Co-Directors of each of the centers and NIH Program Staff, holds regular teleconferences and organizes an annual meeting to discuss scientific progress, promote collaborations and coordinate research, training and outreach activities.