Hoping to lure new researchers to the Parkinson’s disease field and to support others’ new and innovative ideas, the American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) has awarded more than $1.7 million in fellowships, research grants, and funding for APDA Centers for Advanced Research.
The awards include a highly competitive George C. Cotzias Fellowship, two post-doctoral fellowships, 11 research grants, and eight APDA Centers for Advanced Research. The centers support front-line research into the cause, treatment, and eventual cure of Parkinson’s, according to a press release.
Applications are reviewed annually by the APDA’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). During that meeting, board members also decide the kind of research they want to invest in that year.
Among other things, the association’s support this year will give insight into the disease’s new biomarkers, and examine how and why Parkinson’s affects genders and some ethnic groups differently, said Rebecca Gilbert, MD, PhD, APDA’s vice president and chief scientific officer.
“APDA is funding an exciting array of projects this year,” she said.
In the past, research projects have produced important pilot data, according to the release, resulting in lucrative research grants from the National Institutes of Health and other funding entities.
“It is vital to accelerate research and support translational ideas that can lead to new treatments for those people living with [Parkinson’s disease],” said David G. Standaert, MD, PhD, John N. Whitaker professor and chair of neurology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham‘s School of Medicine, and SAB chairman. “APDA’s SAB is focused on investing in the best science to support that important mission.”
This year’s George C. Cotzias Fellowship went to emerging physician-scientist Aasef Shaikh, PhD, of the Cleveland VA Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University. The three-year award is designed to fund a long-term Parkinson’s project.
Shaikh’s project is aimed at learning how Parkinson’s affects the part of the brain that maintains gait and balance.
APDA’s Centers for Advanced Research fund expansive Parkinson’s research programs. These programs include novice researchers, fellowship and early-stage discovery programs, and advanced clinical translation. Through a rigorous application process, two new centers were chosen this year.
“The work being done as a result of the grants in this new funding cycle will have an incredible impact on the world of [Parkinson’s disease],” said Leslie A. Chambers, APDA’s president and CEO.
In its 57-year history, APDA has raised more than $177 million to provide patient services, increase public awareness of Parkinson’s, support its research, and ultimately end the disease.