Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is a life-threatening condition that can occur after an allogeneic stem cell transplant, which is a procedure that some blood cancer patients choose as it may offer them a potential “cure.” GVHD arises when donated cells initiate an immune response and attack the transplant recipient’s organs, leading to significant morbidity and mortality.1 All stem cell transplant recipients are at risk to develop this post-transplant complication, causing those impacted to start an entirely different fight for their health.
There are two major forms of GVHD: acute, which generally occurs within 100 days of transplant, and chronic, which generally occurs more than 100 days after a transplant.2 Both forms can affect multiple organ systems including the skin, gastrointestinal (digestive) tract and liver.2 Symptoms of GVHD can be pervasive and debilitating, and may include rashes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice of the skin and/or eyes, muscle weakness or fatigue, shortness of breath, and more.1,2
Innovation that supports patients, caregivers, and health care providers is vital when managing any health condition, including GVHD. Due to its symptoms and effect on organ systems, fighting this disease is a challenge from the start and requires assistance from all involved to constantly think about how to best serve patients and improve their quality of life.
The Incyte Ingenuity Awards in GVHD was launched in 2020 to provide solutions for the challenges faced by those impacted by GVHD. This program, now in its fourth year, aims to support the U.S. GVHD community by funding two innovative initiatives annually (one initiative up to $35,000 and another up to $100,000) that foster collaboration amongst key stakeholders and address specific needs for people impacted by GVHD, including patients and their providers.
Since the program’s introduction, the Incyte Ingenuity Awards in GVHD has awarded five organizations a total of $370,000 in funding to bring their innovative projects to life, all of which aim to improve the lives of those living with GVHD. Through the award program, organizations have been able to create an app that educates patients on identifying symptoms, establish a GVHD expertise network to empower community-based providers, and create a GVHD-focused telehealth clinic. Most recently in 2022, two projects were selected that sought to address the challenges that children with GVHD face – with one project focusing on academic performance and another addressing physical rehabilitation for these young patients.
Meredith Cowden, one of the judges for the 2022 and 2023 Incyte Ingenuity Awards in GVHD, and patient advocate of the Meredith A. Cowden Foundation, shared what the program means to her, stating, “This program holds an important place in my heart, as I have been living with GVHD and advocating for better care for patients for the past 20 years. I personally understand the impact this disease can have on an individual and how important it is to keep encouraging experts to find solutions, as additional support is still very needed.” She added, “This award program creates opportunities for people with innovative ideas as they aim to shape a brighter future for those impacted by GVHD. I am honored to be a part of the judging panel once again and look forward to seeing what this next installment has in store for the GVHD community.”
Since each case of GVHD is unique, there will always be a need for innovative solutions to support those living with GVHD and their caretakers. This year’s Incyte Ingenuity Awards in GVHD is an opportunity for new ideas benefitting the GVHD community to be brought forth and receive funding, and it also brings a new and improved application process, making the process more accessible for all applying organizations. The streamlined application process starts with a letter of intent, followed by a more detailed application for selected applicants. Groups eligible to apply include 501(c)(3) non-profits, patients, policy and caregiver organizations, or health care providers, and mid-level or junior faculty from health care organizations (who can apply on behalf of their organization). Individuals interested in applying must partner with a non-profit or health care group to be eligible. Applications for the 2023 Incyte Ingenuity Awards in GVHD are due by June 24, 2023. To learn more about eligibility criteria and how to apply, visit https://www.incyteingenuityawards.com/.
© 2023, Incyte. MAT-INC-01954 02/23