The first virtual MSAP meeting held on 29. June 2020
Owing to disruption of international travel by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Medical & Scientific Advisory Panel (MSAP) met virtually on 29th June at 2 pm (Central European Summer Time) to consider new applications for research grants. After more than thirty years of MSAP meeting history, it was the first time the panel did not meet in person.
The position of MSAP Chair rotates among established MSAP members: Co-Chairs newly appointed at this meeting were Professors John Marshall and Thomas Magin. We were also delighted to welcome Dr Agnes Schwieger from Zurich as a new MSAP member, whose clinical experience with EB will further strengthen the Panel’s clinical expertise.
In total, 15 project proposals were submitted to the All Priorities call 2020, managed by DEBRA Austria on behalf of EB-ResNet and DEBRA International. Since then, research staff obtained 60 external reviews for these proposals, which provided the basis for the MSAP virtual meeting on 29th June. The standard criteria of scientific quality and originality, value for money, and potential to benefit people with EB, were used for evaluation and scoring of proposals.
For the first time, all applications went through a pre-screening process (‘Triage’). MSAP members were, according to their expertise, asked to screen a selection of proposals and the related external peer-reviews, noting those research proposals meriting discussion at the virtual meeting of the full Panel. Voting was individual and confidential. In consultation with the MSAP Chairs, EB-ResNet used the majority view to identify those applications, and the issues they raised, for further consideration by the full Panel.
The newly introduced pre-screening of applications (‘Triage’) was facilitated through the online Grant Management Tool ‚Grant Tracker‘. The Triage shortlisted 13 project proposals which were discussed by the full MSAP during the virtual meeting. Grant Tracker also enabled the on-line ‘live’ scoring of proposals during this meeting.
This time 5 national DEBRA groups (DEBRA Austria, DEBRA UK, DEBRA Ireland, DEBRA Spain and DEBRA France) were present as observers - two of them committed already to fund one or two of the recommended research projects.
The next step is now to discuss the funding of recommended proposals among the EB-ResNet member groups. The results will shortly be announced. We are more than grateful that EB research is continuing even though the COVID-pandemic has slowed down research activities worldwide.
In the name of all EB-ResNet members and DEBRA International, we wish to thank all MSAP members for their commitment to helping people with EB.