The Donald A. Burns Foundation is dedicated to funding noble causes and organizations, including the Daniel E. Ponton Fund for the Neurosciences. Formed in 2007 in partnership with Harvard Medical School teaching affiliate Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Ponton Fund seeks to advance medical research and patient care for those with psychiatric and neurological diseases. Its efforts through the years have ranged from facilitating the development of new treatments and therapies to increasing medical outreach to populations in need.
Thanks to the financial assistance of the Donald A. Burns Foundation, the Ponton Fund has been able to affect change worldwide by sponsoring a number of much-needed initiatives, including the following:
Building homes for patients in Rwanda and Malawi
In 2015, the Ponton Fund joined forces with Partners in Health to further the Program on Social and Economic Rights (POSER) initiative by building five new homes for patients in Rwanda. The aim of these residences is to help reduce the prevalence of infectious diseases that easily spread in the region due to the high incidence of substandard housing. In addition to providing this aid in Rwanda, POSER will undertake similar measures in Malawi to house 52 Nsambe villagers displaced by a disastrous fire.
Improving physician housing in Rwanda
A related initiative in Rwanda involves building living spaces for physicians. With the help of the Donald A. Burns Foundation and the Ponton Fund, a total of four quadraplexes opened for use at Butaro Hospital in the Burera District in 2015. The vision behind these new properties is to make working in the rural area more appealing to healthcare professionals and to encourage the best in the world to bring their practice to Rwanda.
Promising research on brain tumor therapy
Dr. Ian Dunn, a talented neurosurgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, has focused his latest research on improving the ways physicians diagnose tumors. Taking into account the various ways that brain tumors behave, he is leading a team in observing genetic changes in the genomes of brain tumors. Dr. Dunn aims to develop new therapies based on his findings, and with financial backing from the Ponton Fund, he hopes to eventually sequence the genomes of all tumors and create treatments based on this data.
Investing in the future of healthcare
Another recent development is the creation of two funds named after Michael J. Zinner, MD, that will support surgical residents at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. One fund will sponsor the travel expenses of students seeking to maximize their educational experience by participating in conferences or outreach activities, and the other will serve as a sort of rainy-day fund for residents coping with unexpected adverse financial circumstances.
Promoting the sharing of ideas
Similar in scope to the new Zinner funds, the Ponton Fund made it possible for five postdoctoral fellows to participate in the 9th International Oncolytic Virus Therapeutics Conference. The fellows, hailing from Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and Belgium, had the opportunity to present their research and network with leading scientists and clinicians on topics related to using oncolytic virus therapy to treat cancer.