PDF Funds $5.1 Million in New Research to Meet Community Needs, Ensure Talented Pool of Doctors and Scientists

Elizabeth SmithHow can we solve, treat and end Parkinson’s disease (PD) as quickly as possible? At the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (PDF), we are constantly looking for ways to answer this question. In 2015, the answer includes $5.1 million in research grants, which focus on answering the needs of people who live with PD and training scientists to redouble the fight.

In selecting scientific projects and training programs for funding, our highest value is ensuring the quality of the science and the caliber of the people we support. But in contrast to other funding organizations, we advance a second value: ensuring the importance of these projects to people who live with Parkinson’s disease and their families. We accomplish this by including people with Parkinson’s along with the scientists in our review committees, and — in the case of our new Community Choice Research Awards — actually polling the community to determine the projects which it believes to be of the greatest relevance to their needs.

The other aspect that PDF is working on is ensuring we have enough doctors and scientists who can fight this disease. With shortages of talented people looming in the field of Parkinson’s, PDF continues to identify talented young doctors and scientists with excellent ideas, and then support and train them in the battle against PD. In fact, through our Research Centers at Columbia University Medical Center and Rush University Medical Center, PDF is the largest private funder of the training of movement disorder neurologists in the United States. As this year’s PDF-funded research moves forward (see a full list below) we look forward to updating you on our progress in solving, treating and ending Parkinson’s disease once and for all. 

Research Centers: $2.36 Million

Allow talented scientists to collaborate on basic, translational and clinical research.

Columbia University Medical Center
Un Jung Kang, M.D., Principal Investigator, Roy N. Alcalay, M.D., M.Sc., Robert E. Burke, M.D., Lorraine N. Clark, Ph.D., Stanley Fahn, M.D., Blair Ford, M.D., Jill S. Goldman, M.S., M.Phil., Lloyd A. Greene, Ph.D., Sheng-Han Kuo, M.D., Oren Levy, M.D., Ph.D., Elan D. Louis, M.D., M.Sc., Karen Marder, M.D., M.P.H., Pietro Mazzoni, M.D., Ph.D., Eugene Mosharov, Ph.D., Serge Przedborski, M.D., Ph.D., Seth L. Pullman, M.D., Yaakov Stern, Ph.D., David Sulzer, Ph.D., Jean Paul G. Vonsattel, M.D., Cheryl H. Waters, M.D., Ai Yamamoto, Ph.D.

Rush University Medical Center
Christopher G. Goetz, M.D., Principal Investigator, Brandon R. Barton, M.D., M.S., Bryan A. Bernard, Ph.D., Cynthia L. Comella, M.D., Jennifer G. Goldman, M.D., M.S., Deborah A. Hall, M.D., Ph.D., Katie Kompoliti, M.D., Jeffrey H. Kordower, Ph.D., Leo Verhagen-Metman, M.D., Ph.D., T. Celeste Napier, Ph.D., Kalipada Pahan, Ph.D., Kathleen M. Shannon, M.D., Glenn T. Stebbins, Ph.D.

Weill Cornell Medical Center
M. Flint Beal, M.D., Principal Investigator, Claire Henchcliffe, M.D., D.Phil., Chaorui Huang M.D., Ph.D., Alexander Shtilbans, M.D., Ph.D.

Fellowship & Career Development Awards: $1.39 Million

Prepare leaders in Parkinson’s research and clinical practice.

Clinical Training Fellowships | $893,000

Columbia University Medical Center
Mier Kestenbaum, M.D., Daphne Robakis, M.D., Hiral Shah, M.D., Madeleine Sharp, M.D., Hussain Shaath, M.D., Miriam Sklerov, M.D., Angel Vinuela, M.D.

Rush University Medical Center
Ian O. Blascoe, M.D., Padmaja Vittal, M.D.

Postdoctoral Research Fellowships | $300,000

Functional Study of the Newly Identified Autosomal Recessive Early-onset Parkinsonism-associated Mutation in Sac1 Domain of Synaptojanin1
Mian Cao, Ph.D., mentor: Pietro De Camilli, M.D., Yale University

Optogenetic Dissection of the Role of Dopamine in Fine Motor Control
Damien J. Ellens, M.D., mentor: Daniel K. Leventhal, M.D., Ph.D., University of Michigan

Functional Analysis of Dopamine-dependent Circuits Activity in Parkinson’s Disease
Nan Li, Ph.D., mentor: Alan Jasanoff, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cell-specific Functions of the Globus Pallidus in the Basal Ganglia: Distinct Implications in Normal Behavior and PD
Amelie Soumier, Ph.D., mentor: Aryn H. Gittis, Ph.D., Carnegie Mellon University

In Vivo Modulation of Alpha-synuclein Phosphorylation: Tracking Aggregates in the Living Mouse Brain
Kateri Spinelli, Ph.D., mentor: Vivek K. Unni, M.D., Ph.D., Oregon Health & Science University

A Novel Function of PINK1/Parkin Pathway in Regulating Oxidative Phosphorylation through mRNA Localization & Translational Control
Zhihao Wu, Ph.D., mentor: Bingwei Lu, Ph.D., Stanford University School of Medicine 

Collaborative Fellowships | $142,500

PDF-ABF Clinician-Scientist Development Award | $52,500 (per year for three years)

(In partnership with the American Brain Foundation)

Parkin Overexpression as a Therapeutic Strategy
Amber Van Laar, M.D., mentor: J. Timothy Greenamyre, M.D., Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

PDF-PSG Mentored Clinical Research Award | $50,000

(In partnership with the Parkinson Study Group)

A Functional MRI Study of Dopamine’s Effects on the Stability & Flexibility of Working Memory in Parkinson’s
Robert White III, M.D., Ph.D., mentors: Jill Ostrem, M.D., and Mark D’Esposito, M.D., University of California, San Francisco

PDF-HHMI Medical Research Fellowship | $40,000

(In partnership with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute)

Noninvasive Stimulation of Functional Neural Networks for Remote Brain Modulation & Tremor Reduction in Parkinson’s Disease
David Fischer, mentor: Alvaro Pascual-Leone, M.D., Ph.D., Harvard Medical School

Summer Student Fellowships | $48,000

Quantitative Analysis of Alpha-synuclein in Various Brain Regions of Parkinson’s Disease Mouse Model
Hanan Baker, mentor: Marie-Francoise Chesselet, M.D., Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles


Clinical Subtypes of Parkinson’s & Longitudinal Trend of Disease Progression
Seyed-Mohammad Fereshtehnejad, M.D. mentor: Ronald Postuma, M.D., M.Sc., McGill University, Canada

PINK1-AIF Interaction & Implications in PD Pathogenesis
Fadi Hage, mentor: David Park, Ph.D., University of Ottawa, Canada

Can Sensory Attention Focused Exercise (PD SAFEx) Improve Balance Control & Proprioception in PD?
Shannon Lefaivre, mentor: Quincy J. Almeida, Ph.D., Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada

Genetic Variation and Cognitive Impairment in People with Parkinson’s from Uruguay
Andrés Lescano, M.D., mentor: Ignacio Fernandez Mata, Ph.D., University of Washington

Role of Cognition in Reversing Motor Deficits in PD
Charles Marquardt, mentor: Michael W. Jakowec, Ph.D., University of Southern California

Oscillatory Activity in the Subthalamic Nucleus in a Rodent Pharmacological Model of Parkinsonian Tremor
Samantha Podurgiel, mentor: John Salamone, Ph.D., University of Connecticut

Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor 4 Positive Allosteric Modulators Attenuate LPS-Induced Inflammation in Microglia Cells
Ranjani Ponnazhagan, mentor: David Standaert, M.D., Ph.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham

Methylene Blue as a Treatment for Motor & Cognitive Deficits in a Rodent Model of Parkinson’s
Elizabeth Smith, mentor: Hongjoo Lee, Ph.D., The University of Texas at Austin

Pathogenic Interactions Between Alpha-synuclein & Trichloroethylene In Vivo
Rachel Tang, mentor: Edward A. Burton, M.D., D.Phil., University of Pittsburgh

Role of Basal Ganglia in Sensorimotor Transformation
Pouneh Vaziri, mentor: Robert Chen, M.B.B.Chir., M.Sc., Toronto Western Hospital, Canada

Impact of Medical Care Structure & Provider Availability on Outcomes in Parkinson’s Disease
Jonathan Woo, mentor: Allison Willis, M.D., University of Pennsylvania

Student Travel Awards | $5,900

Funding students to present results of their Parkinson’s research at the following conferences:

Annual Conference of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology
Melissa Furlong, mentor: Freya Kamel, Ph.D., University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

18th International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders
Eleanna Kara, mentor: Henry Houlden, M.D., Ph.D., UCL Institute of Neurology, United Kingdom

18th International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders
Diana Jean-Young Kim, mentor: Martin McKeown, M.D., University of British Columbia, Canada

Gordon Research Seminar: Barriers of the CNS
Niyanta Kumar, mentor: Robert Thorne, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison

Annual Meeting of American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Sang-Min Lee, mentor: Richard Mailman, Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University

Gordon Research Conference: Neurobiology of Cognition
Shaun Patel, mentor: Emad N. Eskandar, M.D., Massachusetts General Hospital


International Research Grants: $742,500

Promote innovative research projects that have high potential to significantly advance the knowledge of Parkinson’s.

Epigenetic Dysregulation in Levodopa-induced Dyskinesia* 
David Anderson, Ph.D., and Jay Schneider, Ph.D.,Thomas Jefferson University

Elucidation of the Role of Cholinergic Interneurons in Levodopa-induced Dyskinesias*
Tomas Björklund, Ph.D., Lund University, Sweden

Interaction of LRRK2 and Tau in Mediating Neurodegeneration in Mouse Models of Parkinson’s Disease*
Darren Moore, Ph.D., Van Andel Research Institute

Identifying Connectivity Changes with Deep Brain Stimulation in Parkinson’s Disease*
Matthias Schröeter, M.D., Ph.D., and Karsten Müller, Ph.D., Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Germany

Novel Insights into the Properties and Fate of Naturally Secreted Alpha-synuclein
Georgia Sotiropoulou, Ph.D., University of Patras, Greece

Striatal CaV1.3 Calcium Channel Silencing as a Neuroprotective Target for Levodopa-induced Dyskinesias
Kathy Steece-Collier, Ph.D., and Fredric P. Manfredsson, Ph.D., Michigan State University

Imaging Impulse Control Disorders in Parkinson’s*
Antonio Strafella, M.D., Ph.D., Toronto Western Hospital, Canada

Neuroprotection by XPro1595 in a Chronic MPTP Monkey Model of Parkinson’s
Malú Tansey, Ph.D., and Yoland Smith, Ph.D., Emory University

Dysfunctional Signalling Mechanism of Neurotransmission in Parkinson’s Disease
Zhenyu Yue, Ph.D., Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai


Advancing Parkinson’s Treatments Grants: $499,500

Facilitate the movement of treatments from “bench to bedside.”

Challenge Awards | $270,000

Parkinson’s Prevalence Project: Improving Estimates of Parkinson’s Prevalence and Incidence in North America
Organized by James C. Beck, Ph.D., PDF

Innovations Awards | $150,000

Parkinson Study Group: Advancing Clinical Research 
Michael Schwarzschild, M.D., Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital and Hubert Fernandez, M.D., Cleveland Clinic

Conference Awards | $30,000

Conference on Fatigue and Parkinson’s
Joseph Friedman, M.D., Brown University 
Community Choice Research Award

Conference on Gastrointestinal Function and PD
Ronald Pfeiffer, M.D., University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Eamonn Quigley, M.D., Houston Methodist Hospital
Community Choice Research Award

Meeting Sponsorship | $29,500

Van Andel Institute Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease: The Role of Inflammation
Patrik Brundin, M.D., Ph.D., Van Andel Institute

Baylor College of Medicine 24th Annual CME Course for Neurologists
Joseph Jankovic, M.D., Baylor College of Medicine

University of Pennsylvania Marian S. Ware Research Retreat: Transmission of Neurodegenerative Disease Pathologies: New Insights into the Progression of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Related Disorders
Virginia M.-Y. Lee, Ph.D., M.B.A., and John Q. Trojanowski, M.D., Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

American Society for Neural Therapy and Repair (ASNTR): Support for Trainees to Present PD Data
Michael Modo, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh

NINDS Satellite Meeting at the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting: Mechanisms of Misfolded Protein Propagation in Neurodegenerative Disease
Margaret Sutherland, Ph.D., National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Gordon Research Conference: Basal Ganglia Cells and Circuits in Health and Disease
D. James Surmeier, Ph.D., Northwestern University, and Nicole Calakos, M.D., Ph.D., Duke University

International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society, Fostering New Directions in Parkinson’s Research
Serge Przedborski, M.D., Ph.D., Columbia University Medical Center

PAIR Leadership Awards | $20,000

Participant Retention in Parkinson’s Clinical Studies
Patricia Ede, R.N., and Martha Nance, M.D., Struthers Parkinson’s Center and University of Minnesota, and Kim and Libbe Erickson, PDF Research Advocates

Opportunities and Challenges in Patient-Researcher Collaborations to Accelerate Parkinson’s Research
Benzi M. Kluger, M.D., M.S., University of Colorado, and Diane Cook, PDF Research Advocate

Self-Reported Benefits of Participation in a Singing Group (Tremble Clefs) in Parkinson’s Disease
Stephanie Lessig, M.D., University of California, San Diego and Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and Thelma Balbes, M.A., PDF Research Advocate

Tele-Neurological Assessments of People with PD
Christina Vaughan, M.D., M.H.S., Medical University of South Carolina, and Jay Phillips and Marilyn Phillips, P.T., PDF Research Advocates


Côté Clinical Genetics Initiative: $110,000

Identify and understand the role of genetic markers in Parkinson’s.

Generation and Characterization of Purified Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-derived Dopaminergic Neurons to Study Monozygotic Twins Discordant for Parkinson’s
Aiqun Li, Ph.D., mentor: Scott A. Noggle, Ph.D., New York Stem Cell Foundation

Molecular Basis of Substantia Nigra Dopamine Neuron Vulnerability in Parkinson’s Disease
Ping-Yue Pan, Ph.D., mentor: Zhenyu Yue, Ph.D., Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

*Denotes second year of funding

Back to Contents for Summer 2014 News & Review