Parkinson’s Foundation Awards 34 Research Grants Worth $3.4M

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by Mary Chapman |

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To support scientists at all phases of Parkinson’s investigation and discovery, the Parkinson’s Foundation has awarded 34 research grants totaling $3.4 million.

Grant recipients represent a range of disciplines, and are working on multiple aspects of this neurodegenerative disorder. Their goal is to help patients better go about their daily life, and, ultimately, find a cure. Parkinson’s affects about 10 million individuals globally, including an estimated 1 million Americans.

“The Parkinson’s Foundation continues to provide these annual grant opportunities, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure that PD research can successfully move forward,” said John L. Lehr, president and CEO of the Parkinson’s Foundation, in a press release. “These research grants are critical to driving better patient outcomes and ensuring a better future for people with Parkinson’s disease.”

Because research plays a vital role in understanding and treating Parkinson’s, the nonprofit funds and supports a wide array of study. The grants offer early career scientists training opportunities, while providing established scientists with the means to test concepts and projects.

“With the support of the Parkinson’s Foundation, we hope to better understand how the nervous system functions as it relates to people with advanced Parkinson’s disease [who] experience freezing gait — an inability to move their feet — during demanding or particularly stressful situations,” said Kevin Wilkins, PhD, a postdoctoral grant recipient.

“We hope to develop ways to identify those at risk of developing cognitive and walking impairments as their disease progresses, and provide the key to better therapies.”

Among the most debilitating effects of Parkinson’s disease is the loss of coordination and control over movement, which frequently affects walking. Freezing of gait is an abnormal gait pattern marked by a sudden and temporary inability to move the feet forward when walking. Such episodes can lead to falls and injury.

The foundation’s research grants include Impact Awards — funding innovative, high-risk and high-reward projects that need support. This year, the organization awarded $450,000 to independent investigators whose work seek to uncover more about Parkinson’s mechanisms, and to lead to possible treatments. Each recipient gets up to $150,000 for about a year.

“These research grants allow us to better understand Parkinson’s disease and move the needle forward for better care and therapies for people with PD,” said James Beck, PhD, the foundation’s chief scientific officer. “We are thrilled to support these highly promising grant recipients as they advance research towards a cure.”

Recipients are chosen by a peer-reviewed panel of scientific experts and research advocates. To date, the organization has invested more than $365 million in Parkinson’s research and care.

Go here for more information about foundation research grants, including how to apply.