Navigation Links
Parkinson's Disease Foundation awards $300,000 in bridge funding for innovative research projects

(February 19, 2009, New York, NY) The Parkinson's Disease Foundation (PDF) has awarded $300,000 in emergency bridge funding to four leading Parkinson's disease scientists. The grants will sustain promising investigations that were recently put into jeopardy by the sudden collapse of their primary private funder, The Picower Foundation.

The Picower Foundation, whose endowment was managed by Bernard Madoff, was forced to cease all grantmaking activities as of the end of 2008.

The awards will support four innovative research projects that were affected by this turn of events, with one-time grants of $75,000 each. The lead scientists on these projects, known in the field for their outstanding work in Parkinson's disease, include J. Timothy Greenamyre, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Virginia M.-Y. Lee, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, David Sulzer, Ph.D., of Columbia University Medical Center and D. James Surmeier, Ph.D., of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Each project is pursuing a novel avenue of research that may shed light on new ways of treating Parkinson's. Dr. Greenamyre, for example, will test several classes of medications already approved by the FDA for diseases other than Parkinson's to observe whether they are effective in improving gastrointestinal motility in Parkinson's. Despite the frequency and debilitating nature of this nonmotor symptom for people living with Parkinson's, there are no drugs designed specifically to address it.

Dr. Lee, along with John Q. Trojanowski, M.D., Ph.D., is focused on drug discovery, targeting the misfolding, or clumping, of a protein called alpha-synuclein. This clumping is believed to contribute to the cell death that leads to Parkinson's. Their team will test a variety of known compounds to determine if any are effective in preventing the protein clumping and will examine the most promising candidates for their potential to not only treat Parkinson's, but also to theoretically slow its progression.

Dr. Sulzer will investigate the role that inflammation, caused by an immune response, plays in causing the death of neurons in Parkinson's. Scientists already know that inflammation occurs in areas of the brain affected by Parkinson's disease and suspect that it may trigger cell death. By taking a fresh approach to understanding how inflammation is initiated, Dr. Sulzer's work may yield a better understanding of how Parkinson's develops, pointing toward new ways of treating the disease.

Dr. Surmeier will explore the idea that areas of the brain affected by Parkinson's, some of which have not been traditionally studied, may share a common mechanism that contributes to the death of neurons. He hypothesizes that this mechanism may involve excess levels of calcium inside cells. If Dr. Surmeier's high risk approach is on target, he says it may be very easy to identify a treatment that could concurrently ease the motor and nonmotor symptoms of Parkinson's, something that is not feasible with current therapies. One possibility includes isradipine, a medication already on the market for high blood pressure.

Dr. Lee, of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, noted, "With PDF's help, we will be able to continue our research, the ultimate goal of which is to expand the 'pipeline' of promising compounds for novel Parkinson's therapies."

PDF Executive Director, Robin Anthony Elliott said of the grants, "Our board of directors and my colleagues at PDF were deeply affected by how the loss of one family foundation and its millions of dollars of support can have such a direct and catastrophic effect upon Parkinson's disease research. We are not only proud to support some of the talented scientists left in the wake of this event, but also believe that we owe this type of commitment to the nearly one million people in the US living with Parkinson's - people who cannot afford, even in a time of economic uncertainty, for promising research to be put on hold."

These grants are part of PDF's four-pronged approach to funding Parkinson science. PDF's research initiatives include a Center Grants Program, which funds research at three leading universities; the International Research Grants Program, which provides seed grants to promising scientists studying the science of Parkinson's disease; career development and fellowship programs that support continued interest in the field of Parkinson's; and collaborative endeavors with other organizations that fund Parkinson's disease research. In fiscal year 2009, PDF will contribute $5.4 million to support Parkinson's disease research.


Contact: Melissa Barry
Parkinson's Disease Foundation

Related biology news :

1. High-fat diets inflame fat tissue around blood vessels, contribute to heart disease
2. Diet could reduce onset of eye disease by 20 percent
3. Detecting disease in greenhouse plants
4. McMaster researchers discover new mode of how diseases evolve
5. Engineers create intelligent molecules that seek-and-destroy diseased cells
6. While focusing on heart disease, researchers discover new tactic against fatal muscular dystrophy
7. Researchers examine role of climate change in disease spread
8. UT Southwestern researchers disrupt biochemical system involved in cancer, degenerative disease
9. ASM biodefense and emerging diseases research meeting
10. CSHL scientists clarify editing error underlying genetic neurodegenerative disease
11. New insights into a leading poultry disease and its risks to human health
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/17/2015)... , Nov. 17, 2015  Vigilant Solutions announces ... joined its Board of Directors. --> ... after recently retiring from the partnership at TPG Capital, ... companies with over $140 Billion in revenue.  He founded ... across all the TPG companies, from 1997 to 2013.  ...
(Date:11/12/2015)... Nov. 12, 2015  A golden retriever that stayed ... dystrophy (DMD) has provided a new lead for treating ... the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the ... . Cell, pinpoints a protective ... the disease,s effects. The Boston Children,s lab of ...
(Date:11/11/2015)... --  MedNet Solutions , an innovative SaaS-based eClinical technology company ... to announce that it will be a Sponsor of the ... be held November 17-19 in Hamburg , ... iMedNet , MedNet,s easy-to-use, proven and affordable ... been able to deliver time and cost savings of up ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/1/2015)... ... , ... Matthew “Tex” VerMilyea, PhD, HCLD, has joined Texas Fertility Center as ... lab procedures as well as continue his research efforts into the emerging technologies of ... New Zealand to bring home a High Complexity Clinical Laboratory Director named Tex,” says ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... 30, 2015 , ... Global Stem Cells Group ... the Santiago Marriott. The Global Stem Cells Group GMP facility is equipped with ... qualified medical researchers and practitioners, experienced in administering stem cell protocols using highly ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... 2015 Partnership includes an MPP ... for the u niversity , s ... treatment s cale - up through ... Africa , where licensees based anywhere in the world will have ... --> Africa , where licensees based anywhere in the world ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... Spherix Incorporated (Nasdaq: SPEX ) an ... and monetization of intellectual property, today provided an ... to create shareholder value. Anthony ... on published reports, the total addressable market of ... Spherix will seek to secure fair and reasonable ...
Breaking Biology Technology: