Parkinson's Disease Foundation Awards $1 Million to Help Reveal Causes, Advance Therapies and End Parkinson's

NEW YORK, June 27, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Parkinson's Disease Foundation® (PDF®) is pleased to announce $1 million in funding for 14 global research projects designed to improve the lives and futures of people touched by Parkinson's disease.  For summaries of each one, visit www.pdf.org/en/parkinson_research_grantees.

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"There are one million people like me living with Parkinson's disease, who urgently need better treatments and a cure," said Fred Woodlief, D.D.S., Vice Chair of the PDF People with Parkinson's Advisory Council and member of the grants review committee.  "PDF is unique in listening to these needs by funding science on both its merit and its likelihood to improve lives."

The projects are supported via two core programs that encourage early-career scientists to test out their most daring ideas – International Research Grants and Research Fellowships.  Along with Dr. Woodlief, they were chosen by a committee that included Chair Robert Burke, M.D., PDF Scientific Director Stanley Fahn, M.D., and other scientific experts and lay advocates. 

Each project shares in PDF's diverse research goals: revealing causes, advancing therapies and ending Parkinson's disease.  For example, Tomas Bjorklund, Ph.D., of Lund University in Sweden, is looking for a solution to dyskinesia, a common side effect of the gold-standard medication for Parkinson's disease.  Using a PDF International Research Grant, he will study how particular brain cells may become overly active, leading to dyskinesia.  Based upon his results, he will identify targets for treating dyskinesia in people with Parkinson's disease.

Meanwhile Kelly Glajch, Ph.D., of Northwestern University, is using her PDF Research Fellowship to discover how a recently identified brain circuit might contribute to Parkinson's disease.  She theorizes that the circuit plays an important role in the normal control of movement and is altered in Parkinson's disease.  If she can uncover how this pathway works, her results could point the way toward improved therapies for motor symptoms.

PDF President Robin Anthony Elliott noted, "By supporting these 14 talented scientists, PDF is ensuring that a special few daring ideas will not be left on a laboratory bookshelf.  Instead, they will be explored for their potential to improve the lives and futures of the people who live with Parkinson's – the focus of our mission, our passion and our purpose."

Learn more about PDF's investigator-driven Parkinson's disease research projects by visiting www.pdf.org/en/parkinson_research_grantees.  Learn more about the additional Parkinson's disease research that PDF is funding in 2013 by visiting www.pdf.org/results_funded.

International Research Grants | $825,000
Promote innovative research projects that have high potential to significantly advance the knowledge of Parkinson's.

Epigenetic Dysregulation in Levodopa-Induced Dyskinesia
David Anderson, Ph.D., and Jay Schneider, Ph.D., Thomas Jefferson University

Stability of Tetrameric Alpha-synuclein as a Biomarker in Parkinson's Disease*
Tim Bartels, M.Sc., Ph.D., and Dennis J. Selkoe, M.D., Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital

Elucidation of the Role of Cholinergic Interneurons in Levodopa-Induced Dyskinesias
Tomas Bjorklund, Ph.D., Lund University, Sweden

Dissecting the Different Properties of Human Alpha-synuclein Between Dopamine and Non-Dopamine Neurons in Vivo*
Linan Chen, M.D., Ph.D., and Xiaoxi Zhuang, Ph.D., University of Chicago

Cellular Mechanisms of Semaphorin 3E-Plexin-D1 Signaling in Basal Ganglia Circuitry Formation and Neurodegenerative Diseases*
Chenghua Gu, D.V.M., Ph.D., Harvard Medical School

Identification and Characterization of a Novel Gene for Parkinsonism*
Paul Lockhart, Ph.D., and Gabrielle Wilson, Ph.D., Bruce Lefroy Centre, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Royal Children's Hospital, Australia

Interaction of LRRK2 and Tau in Mediating Neurodegeneration in Mouse Models of Parkinson's Disease
Darren Moore, Ph.D., Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland

Identifying Connectivity Changes with Deep Brain Stimulation in Parkinson's Disease
Matthias Schroeter, M.D., Ph.D., and Karsten Muller, Ph.D., Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Germany

Imaging Impulsive Control Disorders in Parkinson's
Antonio Strafella, M.D., Ph.D., Toronto Western Hospital, Canada

Cyclic GMP Signaling and Experimental Parkinsonism*
Anthony R. West, Ph.D., and Kuei-Yuan Tseng, M.D., Ph.D., Rosalind Franklin University

Research Fellowships | $190,000
Prepare leaders in Parkinson's research and clinical practice.

Optogenetic Characterization of the Pallidostriatal Synapse in Parkinsonian Mice
Kelly Glajch, Ph.D., Northwestern University

Characterization of a Novel Component That Functions Upstream of PINK1 Linking Mitochondrial Unfolded Protein Stress to Mitophagy
Yi-Fan Lin, Ph.D., Sloan-Kettering Institute

Role of Parkin in the Clearance of Defective Mitochondria with Deleted mtDNA: A New Mouse Model of Parkinson's Disease
Milena Pinto, Ph.D., University of Miami

Clearing Defective Mitochondria: How is Parkin Recruited and Activated?
Evgeny Shlevkov, Ph.D., Children's Hospital Boston

*Denotes second year of funding

About Parkinson's Disease 
Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects nearly one million people in the United States and seven to 10 million people worldwide.  Although promising research is being conducted, there is currently no cure for Parkinson's disease.

About PDF Research
Central to the mission of the Parkinson's Disease Foundation (PDF) is our commitment to funding research that is focused on three results: revealing causes, advancing therapies and ending Parkinson's disease.  In the calendar year 2013, PDF will contribute a total of $5 million towards Parkinson's disease research programs, funding three research centers, 40 scientific projects and 10 clinical fellows around the world.  A full list of this year's research projects is available on the PDF website at www.pdf.org/results_funded.       

About the Parkinson's Disease Foundation (PDF)
The Parkinson's Disease Foundation® (PDF®) is a leading national presence in Parkinson's disease research, education and public advocacy.  We are working for the nearly one million people in the US who live with Parkinson's disease by funding promising scientific research while supporting people living with Parkinson's disease through educational programs and services.  Since its founding in 1957, PDF has dedicated over $100 million to fund the work of leading scientists throughout the world and over $42 million to support national education and advocacy programs.

SOURCE Parkinson's Disease Foundation



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