The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) announces the creation of the Mars Shot Fund, an initiative to raise $100 million to help pay for research into nuclear medicine, molecular imaging, and therapy. To date the fund has received $600,000 in grants and pledges, and work is underway to increase federal spending on this issue.
The Mars Shot initiative stemmed from an article published in The Journal of Nuclear Medicine (JNM) which focused on the potential of innovation in the field. Current SNMMI president, Richard Wahl, MD, FACNM, wanted to further explore what the future of nuclear medicine could look like and, along with several colleagues, authored a paper for JNM that detailed five areas for growth. These areas of focus included oncologic imaging, cardiac imaging, neurologic imaging, physics and data science, and radiopharmaceutical therapy.
“Research and development are critical to advancing these five areas of growth, however current funding is lacking,” said Wahl. “The National Institutes of Health (NIH), funding line is about 10 percent right now. The Mars Shot Fund is a way to help fund highly innovative, high impact research that might not be funded by NIH or other agencies.”
The Mars Shot Fund is led by a board of scientists and funders, as well as a Scientific Advisory Board which will guide the direction of the board in the science space. As additional funding is obtained, the board will make research money available through a grant application process. Applications will be reviewed by SNMMI study sections and, if approved, then awarded funding.
Individuals and organizations have already made generous donations to the Mars Shot Fund. The Lobular Breast Cancer Alliance has designated a $50,000 grant which will be matched by $50,000 from SNMMI. In addition, Scott and Carol Ann Smallwood—who tribute nuclear medicine with saving Scott’s life after being diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor—have pledged $500,000 over three years to the fund.
SNMMI is advising Congress to include a line item for the Mars Shot Fund in the Department of Energy or the Department of Defense budget in the coming session. Individuals are also being asked to contribute to the fund.
“We are in a revolutionary period for nuclear medicine, molecular imaging, and therapy,” said Wahl. “It’s essential that we capitalize on the momentum of this unparalleled innovation now so that we can continue to transform the nature of disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment in the near future.”