Parkinson’s Disease Foundation Awards $4M in Research Funding for Early-Career Scientists

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by Ana de Barros, PhD |

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PD Foundation awards $4 million for research

The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (PDF) has announced research investments of $4 million for early career scientists addressing Parkinson’s disease (PD).

The foundation’s increased investment in early-career scientists is showcased through its new Stanley Fahn Junior Faculty Awards, a program named after PDF’s longtime scientific director. The awards provide young scholars with $300,000 in financial support over three years to develop their research, which must be focused on Parkinson’s disease.

The recently-announced awards reflect the urgent need for advancing care and finding a cure for the 1 million Americans living with Parkinson’s.

PDF’s research investments are selected through a highly competitive application process reviewed by the foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), which includes scientific experts and PDF-trained patient advocates.

“PDF research investments have advanced our understanding of Parkinson’s disease and improved millions of lives worldwide.  Yet our community is still without the therapies they need most — those that can slow or stop the disease.  Our most recent grants reflect PDF’s commitment to supporting the next generation of research leaders who will speed us toward better treatments and a cure,” said PDF Vice-President of Scientific Affairs James Beck, Ph.D., in a press release.

Among the awardees is Ignacio Fernandez Mata, Ph.D., who is an acting assistant professor at the University of Washington and a researcher at the Geriatrics Research Education and Clinical Center (GRECC) at VA Puget Sound Health Care System. His project, “Parkinson’s Genetic Risk Factors in Latino Populations,” will develop genetic research that has already contributed to what the scientific community knows about the disease.

“In Parkinson’s, genetic studies have advanced the field immeasurably, but they have been confined to studying those of European ancestry, which limits our knowledge and puts non-Europeans at risk for health disparities,” Mata said. “PDF understood this unmet need early on and, at the start of my career, provided seed funding to create the Latin American Research consortium on the Genetics of Parkinson’s Disease (LARGE-PD), which has recruited more than 4,000 individuals across Latin America.

“The PDF Stanley Fahn Award allows my team to take the research further — to perform the first-ever large-scale genetic study of non-European populations, so we can understand if the same genetic risk factors apply to Latinos and identify new ones to help us better understand the disease for everyone,” he added.

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