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Boston Researcher Receives $240,000 to Further Research into Parkinsonís Disease

Fellowship is Funded by the AAN Foundation and Parkinson’s Disease Foundation

Newswise — HONOLULU – A clinician scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston is receiving $240,000 to further his research into how stem cells may be used to treat Parkinson’s disease through the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Foundation and the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (PDF) Clinician Scientist Development Award in Parkinson’s Disease Research. Vikram Khurana, MD, PhD, a clinical fellow in neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital, was awarded the fellowship for his proposed research into stem cells generated from the skin of people living with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and how these cells may be used to understand and treat Parkinson’s disease.

The three-year award will consist of an annual salary of $75,000, plus $5,000 per year in educational expenses. The award recognizes the importance of clinical research in Parkinson’s disease and encourages young investigators in clinical studies. The fellowship will be presented today during the American Academy of Neurology’s 63rd Annual Meeting in Honolulu, which is the world’s largest meeting of neurologists with more than 10,000 attendees.

Clinical research is the fundamental transition stage between discovery and treatment. Clinical research provides the scientific basis for all forms of care, addresses patient and caregiver needs, and is the backbone for drug development and cost-effectiveness studies needed to improve lives. Fellowships provide recipients with up to three years of “protected time” with salary which allows them to continue important research projects in their chosen interests.

Parkinson's disease is a chronic and progressive movement disorder for which there currently is no cure. It involves the malfunction and death of vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons. Some of these dying neurons produce dopamine, a chemical that sends messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. As PD progresses, the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases, leaving a person unable to control movement normally. One million people in the United States currently have PD, and it is estimated that seven to 10 million people around the world suffer from the disease.

"PDF and the AAN Foundation collaborate through this award to ensure up-and-coming scientists committed to improving the lives of people living with Parkinson's have the tools to do so,” said James Beck, PhD, Director of Research Programs at PDF. “We look forward to seeing the results of Khurana's research into the potential of induced pluripotent stem cells to help the nearly one million people living with Parkinson's in the United States."

The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 22,500 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care.

A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit http://www.aan.com.

Source Date: Apr 13 2011
Source Publication: American Academy of Neurology/Newswise
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