APDA Funds $2.35M in New ‘Cutting-edge’ Parkinson’s Research

The amount is a 25% increase over last year's funding total

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by Mary Chapman |

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The American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) will fund a host of Parkinson’s disease research projects for the coming year, including one that will examine the molecular underpinnings of anxiety and another that proposes a treatment for freezing of gait, for a total funding package of $2.35 million, a 25% increase over the previous year.

“Part of APDA’s tagline is ‘hope in progress’ and it’s so rewarding to support our researchers as they develop their theories and obtain significant pilot data and initial proof of concept,” Leslie A. Chambers, APDA president and CEO, said in a press release. “This initial data often allows them to apply for and receive larger grants from the National Institutes of Health and other funding institutions.”

In all, for 2022-2023, the APDA awarded four postdoctoral fellowships, 13 research grants, one Diversity in Parkinson’s Disease Research grant, eight APDA Centers for Advanced Research grants, and one George C. Cotzias Memorial Fellowship, the organization’s most prestigious award. Overarching goals include learning what causes the progressive neurodegenerative disease and finding out how to cure it. The organization also hopes for better treatments.

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“Without the initial support from APDA, some research projects might never get off the ground,” Chambers said. “We’re proud to help make that progress happen and provide hope to everyone impacted by [Parkinson’s disease].”

The APDA established the diversity grant in 2019 to learn more about how Parkinson’s affects disparate populations with the goal of offering better care. For this funding round, the one-year grant went to Erin Foster, PhD, of Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, whose goal will be to understand engagement in research, clinical care, and community services among people of color with Parkinson’s.

The three-year George C. Cotzias Fellowship went to Gary Ho, MD, PhD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School in Boston. Ho will study the use of a type of protein modification, called palmitoylation, to correct vesicle trafficking defects, a cellular process thought to underly the disease’s development and progression.

Other grant projects will cover longitudinal changes of brainstem-based prodromal (before symptoms appear) Parkinson’s biomarkers, the role of the basal ganglia in acquiring and executing complex motor skills, and the therapeutic validation of new targets associated with Parkinson’s. Another will show how striatal circuits gradually change as dopamine neurons degenerate, a hallmark of Parkinson’s.

Grant proposals are reviewed by the organization’s scientific advisory board, composed of scientists from various backgrounds and expertise in a Parkinson’s. Information about applying for funding is available at the APDA website.

“As always, it is an incredibly challenging decision-making process, and the SAB has to make very tough choices,” said Rebecca Gilbert, MD, PhD, chief scientific officer, APDA. “Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we were thrilled to be able to fund even more research this year, enabling us to say yes to some really innovative projects and promising researchers.”

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