Parkinson’s Foundation Awards 33 Grants Worth $5.7M

One research grant will advance an imaging technique called 3D electron tomography

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by Patricia Inácio, PhD |

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Note: This story was updated Aug. 18, 2022, to reflect researchers awarded The Stanley Fahn Junior Faculty Award will receive a total maximum grant of $300,000 over three years. 

The Parkinson’s Foundation announced it is investing $5.7 million across 33 research grants as part of its commitment to speed innovative solutions for possible treatments of the disease.

The focus of the investment is for ground-breaking research being conducted by early-career researchers as well as more established researchers. The goal is to bring forward new therapies and ultimately a cure for the 10 million people living with Parkinson’s disease.

“The pioneering work of most Nobel Prize recipients occurred before the age of 40, and young scientists are likely to play a significant role in groundbreaking PD [Parkinson’s disease] discoveries. Compared to the National Institutes of Health, our support doubles the number of early career researchers dedicating their careers to PD,” James Beck, PhD, said in a press release. Beck is chief scientific officer of the Parkinson’s Foundation,

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“Established investigators also bring keen insight to understanding PD, and our funding drives the pursuit of novel ideas that may lead to PD breakthroughs,” he added.

One of the Parkinson’s Foundation’s funding schemes, The Stanley Fahn Junior Faculty Award, acts as a bridge to support promising early-career scientists to continue researching Parkinson’s disease. The scheme was named after Stanley Fahn, MD, the Parkinson’s Foundation longtime scientific director who was committed to the training of next-generation  Parkinson’s scientists.

The award — totaling a maximum of $300,000 over three years — allows young researchers to establish their own independent line of research.

Sarah Shahmoradian, PhD, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, was one of the recipients of the Stanley Fahn Junior Faculty Award.

The funding will allow her to use an imaging technique called 3D electron tomography to visualize and study the alpha-synuclein protein in its natural state in the brain. Misfolded alpha-synuclein is the major component of Lewy bodies, which are protein clumps that develop inside nerve cells and contribute to neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease.

3D electron tomography uses beams of electrons to investigate the structure and location of proteins with high-resolution. The outcomes of this research will further understanding of how Parkinson’s develops, and may lead to the development of new biomarkers of disease progression and therapies.

“The generous support from the Parkinson’s Foundation cements my commitment to continuing my PD [Parkinson’s disease] research. By receiving this award from an organization so intimately linked to those affected by PD, I feel a heightened sense of personal responsibility and urgency,” said Shahmoradian.

All research grant applications to the Parkinson’s Foundation are reviewed by a panel of scientific experts, including members of the Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board and Foundation-trained research advocates.

More information about all research grant opportunities from the Parkinson’s Foundation and award recipients is available here.

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