(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 can
|Contact: Melissa Barry|
Parkinson's Disease Foundation