PHILADELPHIA, PA. (4/13/2017) -- The Philadelphia Foundation is pleased to announce that Shaili Aggarwal, Ph.D. and Shaun Sanders, Ph.D., are the 2017 recipients of the Brody Family Medical Trust Fund fellowships for medical research in incurable diseases. The prestigious fellowships fund up to two consecutive years for full-time postdoctoral fellows in the early stages of their research into cutting-edge treatments. The fellowships were created to support local research into diseases that have a substantial societal impact and for which no consistently effective cure presently exists.

 Dr. Shaili Aggarwal

Dr. Aggarwal is a second-year Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Pharmacology & Physiology at Drexel University College of Medicine. Her research focuses on the development of alternative treatments for cocaine addiction by targeting a novel functional site within the dopamine transporter that is distinct from the cocaine binding site.

Her proposal involves detailed studies into the structure of this novel site by employing several chemical and biology-based methods. This information will help develop new and promising treatments for cocaine addiction.

 Dr. Shaun Sanders

Dr. Sanders received her Ph.D. in neuroscience in 2015 and now is a postdoctoral fellow at the Shriners Hospital’s Pediatric Research Center in the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University. Her research focuses on neurodevelopmental disorders known as “mTORopathies” – because they are characterized by increased activity of the enzyme mTOR – which can lead to brain malformations associated with epilepsy, intellectual disability, and/or autism spectrum disorders.

The goal of her research is to gain new insights into how mTOR activity is regulated and to use this knowledge to identify novel treatment strategies.

“The Brody family’s vision – providing those facing difficult diagnoses with hope of eventual cures and treatments – is funding cutting edge research and driving innovation long after the family set aside philanthropic dollars for this purpose through their estate planning,” said Pedro A. Ramos, President and CEO of The Philadelphia Foundation. “Awarding these fellowships is a meaningful and tangible example of the enduring impact that grants made through our donors and partners have throughout the region every day.”

This year marks the sixth time fellowships have been awarded from the endowed fund. It was established by Sara Brody in memory of her brother Dr. Louis Brody, her parents Dora and Hans Brody, her sister Ida Brody and her brother Benjamin Brody. Dr. Brody was a police surgeon and a family practitioner.

Past recipients have studied ALS, Alzheimer's Disease, Type I diabetes, heart disease, fibrosis (the overproduction of connective tissues which can result in a stiffening of skin and joints), motor function related to spinal cord injuries and ways to fight chronic infections such as HIV and cancer.

Awards are provided annually, allowing the fund to sustain several multi-year research projects.

The trust’s provisions stipulate that a recipient must be a researcher at Temple University, Drexel University or the University of Pennsylvania.

To make the awards, The Board of Managers of The Philadelphia Foundation is advised by a highly distinguished panel of physicians and scientists with expertise in medical research convened by The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

About The Philadelphia Foundation

Founded in 1918, The Philadelphia Foundation (TPF) strengthens the economic, social and civic vitality of Greater Philadelphia. TPF grows effective philanthropic investment, connects individuals and institutions across sectors and geography, and advances civic initiatives through partnerships and collaboration. A publicly supported foundation, TPF manages assets of over $392 million and more than 900 charitable funds established by its fund holders. It distributes about $25 million annually to nearly 1,000 nonprofits as grants and scholarships. To learn more, visit www.philafound.org.

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