Parkinson’s Foundation Increases Funding to $6.2 Million to Advance Parkinson’s Research

NEW YORK & MIAMI (August 14, 2018) — The Parkinson’s Foundation announced today an increased investment of $6.2 million across 53 research grants to support the work of promising scientists in the field of Parkinson's disease (PD) in 2018. Grants will support Parkinson’s clinical trials and research centers, in addition to career development and fellowships for scientists who actively study various aspects of Parkinson’s in hopes to make life better for people with the disease.

"Our goal at the Parkinson’s Foundation is to increase funding for researchers making significant contributions to advance our understanding of Parkinson’s disease," said John L. Lehr, president and chief executive officer of the Parkinson's Foundation. “By investing in innovative research, we are making progress toward better therapies and ultimately, a cure for Parkinson’s.”

This year, the Parkinson's Foundation increased its research investment by $2.2 million, which includes funding five additional movement disorders training awards and postdoctoral fellowships. Grants range from three months to three years in length and fund diverse research initiatives, providing students, postdoctoral researchers and clinicians with the opportunity to test innovative ideas and the opportunity to stay in the Parkinson’s research field.

Grant recipient Liana Rosenthal, MD, at Johns Hopkins University, a Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence, will apply the $100,000 Parkinson’s Foundation Clinical Research Award to study whether a protein found in the brain, called alpha-synuclein, can predict cognitive decline in people with PD who develop dementia. Through this study, her team will have the potential to improve the cognitive function and quality of life of people with Parkinson’s.

“The support of the Parkinson’s Foundation will help determine whether specific strains of alpha-synuclein are biomarkers of PD disease progression,” said Dr. Rosenthal. “This grant is crucial to my career development by furthering my goal of becoming an independent clinical and translational researcher in Parkinson’s disease.”

"Parkinson's Foundation grants support the exploration of all aspects of Parkinson’s, from researchers studying genetics to therapies and the inner workings of the brain that can provide relief for people today and help for tomorrow," said James Beck, PhD, chief scientific officer of the Parkinson's Foundation.

Parkinson's Foundation research investments are selected through a competitive application process and reviewed by its Scientific Advisory Board, which includes scientific experts and Foundation-trained patient advocates.

2018 Parkinson’s Foundation's research grants recipients include:

Parkinson’s Foundation Research Centers | totaling $1,900,000

Supports the innovative team’s scientific approach to Parkinson’s research

Columbia University: Un Jung Kang, MD

Rush University: Christopher Goetz, MD

Independent Investigator Awards | totaling $2,010,309

Supports critical funding to cutting-edge Parkinson’s research initiatives

Stanley Fahn Junior Faculty Scholars | totaling $900,000

Provides critical funding to early career scientists to further their PD research

  • Lipidomic Analysis in Genetic and Idiopathic Parkinson’s, Roy Alcalay, MD, Columbia University
  • Lipid Phase Separation as a Regulator of Alpha-synuclein Toxicity, Tim Bartels, PhD, University College London, UK
  • Deconstructing the Neuronal Metabolism-Mitochondria Axis in Dopaminergic Neurodegeneration, Gulcin Pekkurnaz, PhD, University of California, San Diego

Clinical Research Awards | totaling $600,000

Funds clinician-scientists to conduct clinical research in Parkinson’s

  • Investigating the Role of GBA in the Propagation of Lewy bodies in Parkinson’s, Marie Davis, MD, PhD, VA Puget Sound
  • Changes in levels, phosphorylation, and kinase activity of LRRK2 in biofluids from patients with idiopathic or alpha-synuclein linked Parkinson’s disease, Dimitra Papadimitriou, MD, PhD, Biomedical Research Foundation, Academy of Athens, Greece
  • The Use of vitamin K2 in Patients with Mitochondrial PD: Concept evaluation in a magnetic resonance (spectroscopy) imaging-based placebo controlled parallel group trial, Jannik Prasuhn, MD, University of Luebeck, Germany
  • A Specific and Less Toxic Alpha-Synuclein Strain Is A Possible Progression Biomarker for Parkinson’s Disease-Related Cognitive Impairment, Liana Rosenthal, MD, Johns Hopkins University

Impact Awards | totaling $251,399

Funds innovative Parkinson’s research

  • Honglei Chen, MD, PhD, Michigan State University
  • Richard Smeyne, PhD, Thomas Jefferson University

Incidence and Mortality in Parkinson’s Disease Initiative | totaling $151,901

Supports the analysis of public health data to identify trends in who is affected by PD each year

  • Connie Marras, MD, PhD, University Health Network
  • G. Webster Ross, MD, Pacific Health Research and Education Institute
  • Rodolfo Savica, MD, James H. Bower, MD, Mayo Clinic
  • Stephen Van Den Eeden, PhD, Kaiser Permanente
  • Allison W. Willis, MD, MS, University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine

Innovations Award | totaling $370,000

Supports the largest network of Parkinson’s clinical trial centers in North America

Parkinson’s Study Group, Michael Schwarzschild, MD, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital

Conference Award | totaling $75,000

Funds the convening of a group of experts to move the field forward on a specific PD topic

  • International Parkinson’s Disease Genomics Consortium, Joshua M. Shulman, MD, PhD, Baylor College of Medicine
  • Luxembourg German Indian Alliance on Neurodegenerative Diseases and Therapeutics, Manu Sharma, PhD, Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research
  • Gordon Research Conference on Parkinson’s Disease, Chair: J. Timothy Greenamyre, MD, PhD; University of Pittsburgh, Co-chair: Malu Tansey, PhD; Emory University

Parkinson’s Advocates in Research Leadership Awards | totaling $38,923

Pairs the Parkinson’s community with scientists to conduct patient-centered research

  • Parkinson's Diversity Recruitment for Research, Tammyjo Best, LPN, Emory University
    • Boxing to Improve Sleep Quality and Daytime Sleepiness in Parkinson's: A Pilot Study, Linda Denney, PT, PhD, MAppSc, Northern Arizona University
    • The Impact of Three Distinct Exercise Types on Fatigue, Anxiety, and Depression, in Parkinson's Disease, Mary S. Feldman, DO, Premier Clinical Neuroscience Institute
    • Online Voice Class for Hispanics with PD, Meredith Fonseca, MA, CCC-SLP, Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center

Fellowships and Early Career Awards| totaling $1,939,410

Supports and trains young investigators

Institutional MDS Fellowship Award | totaling $1,106,410

Trains neurologists to become experts in PD care and research

  • Columbia University: Lynda Nwabuobi, MD
  • Emory University: Sahyli Perez Parra, MD
  • Johns Hopkins University: Bonnie Kaas, MD
  • Rush University: Alana Kirby, MD, PhD
  • Toronto Western Hospital: Gerald Raimon M. Saranza, MD
  • University of Florida: Matthew Burns, MD, PhD

2018 Postdoctoral Fellowship | totaling $660,000

Prepares future leaders in Parkinson’s research

  • Stephanie Alberico, PhD, Columbia University (Mentor: Un Kang, MD)
  • Ross Anderson, PhD, Stanford University (Mentor: Helen Bronte-Stewart, MD)
  • Briana De Miranda, PhD, University of Pittsburgh (Mentor: J. Timothy Greenamyre MD, PhD)
  • Madalynn Erb, PhD, Van Andel Research Institute (Mentor: Darren Moore, PhD)
  • Samuel Stuart, PhD, Oregon Health and Science University (Mentor: Martina Mancini, PhD)

Collaborative Fellowships | totaling $93,000

Parkinson’s Foundation-Howard Hughes Medical Institute | $43,000

Determining the Role of The Basal Ganglia in Motor Sequence Learning and Vigor Representation in Natural and Parkinsonian States, Tori Riccelli, BS, Mayo Clinic School of Medicine

Parkinson’s Foundation-Parkinson Study Group Mentored Clinical Research Award | $50,000

Genetic Dissection of Clinical Heterogeneity in Parkinson’s, Emily Hill, MD

Parkinson’s Foundation-APDA Summer Student Fellowship | totaling $60,000

Providing students interested in Parkinson’s with an opportunity to conduct research

  • Nadia M. Anabtawi, University of Alabama at Birmingham (Mentor: Laura Volpicelli-Daley, PhD)
  • Sidhanth Chandra, University of Alabama at Birmingham (Mentor: Andrew West, PhD)
  • Wai-Kit Chia, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (Mentor: Monica Driscoll, PhD)
  • Michelle Chu, University of Minnesota (Mentor: Gregory Molnar, PhD)
  • Elsa Clinton, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain (Mentor: Carlos Barcia, PhD)
  • Yoan Petrov Ganev, Lake Forest College (Mentor: Shubhik DebBurman, PhD)
  • Ethan Tyler Marshall, University of Minnesota (Mentor: Luke Johnson, PhD)
  • Helen Nanette Matsoff, University of Wisconsin-Madison (Mentor: Marina Emborg, MD, PhD)
  • Ashley Park, University of California, Los Angeles (Mentor: Jeff Bronstein, PhD, MD)
  • Dakota Peacock, Kelowna General Hospital (Mentor: Daryl Wile, MD)
  • Richard Edward Richter, Northwestern University (Mentor: Angela Roberts, PhD)
  • Deepikaa Sriram, Northwestern University (Mentor: Angela Roberts, PhD)

Visiting Scholar Awardees | totaling $20,000

Allows researchers opportunity to travel to a new laboratory to learn new skills applicable to their PD research

  • Silvia Caminiti, MSc, King’s College London (Mentor: Marios Politis, MD, PhD)
  • Hojin Kang, MS, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Mentor: Ted Dawson, MD, PhD)
  • Lynne Krohn, National Institutes of Health (Mentor: Andrew Singleton, PhD)
  • Marta Ruiz-Lopez, University Hospital of Schleswig-Holstein (Mentor: Christine Klein, MD)

2018 Special Support for Meetings | totaling $12,500

Provides support for PD-related meetings

  • 2018 Basal Ganglia Gordon Research Conference, Conference Chair: Mark Bevan, PhD
  • ASNTR 2018 Student Travel Awards, Educational Chair: Fredric Manfredsson, PhD
  • International Tremor Conference, Course Directors: Sheng-Han Kuo, MD; and Elan D. Louis, MD, MS, Columbia University Medical Center
  • International Parkinson & Movement Disorder Society, Neuroscience of Movement Disorders, Course Director: David Standaert, MD, PhD
  • Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease Meeting, Conference Chair: Patrik Brundin, MD, PhD

Since 1957, the Parkinson’s Foundation has invested more than $330 million in Parkinson’s disease research and clinical care. For a full list of 2018 Parkinson’s Foundation research recipients visit


About the Parkinson’s Foundation
The Parkinson’s Foundation makes life better for people with Parkinson’s disease by improving care and advancing research toward a cure. In everything we do, we build on the energy, experience and passion of our global Parkinson’s community. Since 1957, the Parkinson’s Foundation has invested more than $400 million in Parkinson’s research and clinical care. Connect with us on Parkinson.orgFacebookTwitterInstagram or call (800) 4PD-INFO (473-4636).

About Parkinson’s Disease
Affecting an estimated one million Americans and 10 million worldwide, Parkinson’s disease is the second-most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s and is the 14th-leading cause of death in the U.S. It is associated with a progressive loss of motor control (e.g., shaking or tremor at rest and lack of facial expression), as well as non-motor symptoms (e.g., depression and anxiety). There is no cure for Parkinson’s and 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the U.S. alone.

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