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Past Funded Grants

The Parkinson's Foundation has funded hundreds of millions of dollars in research and support services. Funded projects cover a wide range of areas important to the study of Parkinson's disease (PD). The Foundation's Scientific Advisory Board peer-review and select each grant. In addition to this grant funding, the Parkinson's Foundation continues funding the Parkinson's Outcomes Project; the largest clinical study of its kind that is currently tracking 10,000 people with Parkinson's who receive care at Centers of Excellence across the United States and internationally.

2017 Research Grants

Stanley Fahn Junior Faculty Awards: $1.8 Million (Three-Year Award)

Direct Imaging of the Cause and Treatment of Parkinson's Disease with Synthetic Modulatory Neurotransmitter Nanosensors (2017)
Markita Landry, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley

Parkinson's develops when levels of the chemical messenger dopamine A chemical messenger (neurotransmitter) that regulates movement and emotions. decline in the brain. Standard PD therapies work by raising dopamine levels. However, there is no way to measure changes in these levels quantitatively — for example, to understand how well a drug works. That's because dopamine is difficult to detect in the brain and because the area affected by PD is deep within the brain and difficult to scan. In studies with mice, we are developing new infrared dopamine nanosensors that can detect the brain's use of dopamine in real time — in the short term, such as after a physical therapy session or after a dose of medication, as well as throughout long-term disease progression. Our goal with this imaging technique is to provide a quantitative basis for evaluating drug effectiveness and dosing, rather than relying on trial and error and observation of symptoms.

Deconstructing the Behavioral Neuropharmacology of Parkinson's Disease (2017)
Michael R. Tadross, M.D., Ph.D., Duke University

Many scientists are trying to develop drugs to circumvent the side effects of standard PD medications. But the fact that the brain area affected — the striatum The area of the brain that controls movement, balance and walking. — consists of several types of cells, all tightly intermingled stymie their efforts. The non-dopamine therapies have helped some cell types while harming others, canceling out any benefit. We are using a new method called DART (Drugs Acutely Restricted by Tethering), to ensure sending a drug only to one isolated cell type. With this technique, we are mapping which cell types receive a benefit and which are responsible for side effects for several classes of drugs. The results will ultimately reveal insights into the causes of Parkinson's and will guide development of new targeted therapies.

In Vivo Systems-Based and Unbiased Approaches to Study Alpha-Synuclein Toxicity (2017)
Maxime Rousseaux, Ph.D., Baylor College of Medicine

In Parkinson's, abnormal forms of a protein called alpha-synuclein A protein in the human brain that is associated with the development of Parkinson's. It is the main component of Lewy bodies. form clumps within the brain's dopamine neurons Brain cells.. A hallmark of PD, these clumps (called Lewy bodies) associate with cell death. But scientists know little about what happens after a cell produces alpha-synuclein — what substances does it interact with and why does it clump together? Using new genetic and protein-screening technologies, we will identify proteins that bind to alpha-synuclein and increase or decrease alpha-synuclein levels. This, in turn, will shed light on how alpha-synuclein becomes toxic. We will focus on known proteins that become altered in PD, and that conventional drugs can target. This will lead us to a handful of promising candidates for new PD therapies, which can be laboratory tested.

High Throughput in Vivo Screens for Targeted Parkinson's Disease Gene Therapies (2016)
James Dahlman, Ph.D., Georgia Institute of Technology

DNA and RNA therapies are a promising new approach to gene therapy for Parkinson's. But, as with all therapies taken by mouth, researchers need to overcome the difficulties of getting these drugs through the digestive system and past the blood-brain barrier to the specific brain cells where they are needed. One way to do this is to encase the DNA or RNA therapy inside a protective chemical structure called a nanoparticle. Nanoparticles, like other investigational treatments, must be tested in laboratory animals. To date, the expense of these experiments has greatly limited the number of nanoparticles that could be studied. Using a cutting-edge system that our team has designed, we will be able to test 10,000 nanoparticles in mice to find the ones that are best at delivering DNA and RNA therapies to the brain cells affected by PD. Our results will help us synthesize a second generation of nanoparticles that are even more effective.

Parkinson's Genetic Risk Factors in Latino Populations (2016)
Ignacio Fernandez Mata, Ph.D., University of Washington

In recent years, dozens of genetic mutations have been identified that either cause Parkinson's directly or increase a person's susceptibility to developing the disease. All of these genes have been discovered in populations of European or Asian ancestry. Little is known about their role in Latinos, who carry a mixture of genes from indigenous Americans, Europeans and Africans. In earlier studies we have identified 2,000 people with PD in six South American countries and matched them with 2,000 healthy controls. Our study will genetically screen blood samples from these individuals to identify new susceptibility genes in Latinos. In families with many members affected, we will also sequence all known genes that cause PD in order to identify new genetic variants that cause PD. These data will be crucial in understanding the role of genetics in Latinos with PD, and will allow Latinos to participate in clinical trials for potential treatments targeted toward individuals with specific genetic variants.

Direct Pathway Striatal Activity in Dyskinesia (2016)
Alexandra Nelson, M.D., Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco

The gold standard treatment for Parkinson's movement symptoms is levodopaThe medication most commonly given to control the movement symptoms of Parkinson's, usually with carbidopa. It is converted in the brain into dopamine., often prescribed as Sinemet®. But after taking this medicine for several years, many people develop troublesome involuntary movements called dyskinesiasAbnormal, involuntary body movements that can appear as jerking, fidgeting, twisting and turning movements; frequently caused by dopaminergic medications to treat Parkinson's.. In studies with laboratory mice engineered to have Parkinson's symptoms, we will investigate how levodopa changes brain activity to both improve movement and to cause dyskinesias. Using a technique called optogenetics, we will monitor the activity of two types of cells in a critical brain area called the striatum The area of the brain that controls movement, balance and walking., both before and after levodopa treatment. Then we will compare the responses. We believe that the activity of one type of cells may closely mirror the beneficial responses to levodopa, while the other may closely mirror the disabling, dyskinetic responses. A better understanding of these two groups of cells will help in the development of Parkinson's therapies that provide the benefits of levodopa while minimizing the side effects.

Postdoctoral Fellowship Awardees: $1.5 Million (Two-Year Award)

White Matter Templates in Parkinson's Disease (2017)
Derek Bradley Archer, Ph.D., Mentor: David Vaillancourt Ph.D., University of Florida

Scientists studying Parkinson's are intensely searching for a biomarker — a blood test, brain scan or other objective measurement — that can definitively diagnose Parkinson's and act as a disease progression measure. Some of this research focuses on analyzing specific brain regions in people with PD. But the nerve fibers that connect brain regions, known as white matter or tracts, are also important.

We will use a scanning technique called diffusion MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) A medical imaging technique that uses magnetic forces to obtain detailed images of the body. MRI is non-invasive and does not use radiation. to create a map of the brain tracts affected by Parkinson's. Then we will use this map to assess Parkinson's and its progression in 151 people with PD and compare the results with scans from 87 people without Parkinson's. We aim to develop a way to quantify brain changes associated with Parkinson's, to improve diagnosis and treatment.

D620N VPS35 Knockin Mice: A New Model of Familial Parkinson's Disease (2017)
Xi Chen, Ph.D., Mentor: Darren Moore, Ph.D., Van Andel Institute

In a small percentage of cases, genetic mutations directly cause Parkinson's. One gene that can cause PD is known as VPS35. Little is known about how the VPS35 protein interacts with other proteins in nerve cells. We will genetically engineer laboratory mice to have a mutated VPS35 gene that is similar to the mutated form found in humans. We will study motor symptoms, dopamine levels, loss of dopamine neurons and other brain cell changes in these mice. We also will investigate how VPS35 interacts with two other proteins involved in Parkinson's — tau and alpha-synuclein. Understanding these interactions could help us to develop new drugs that interfere with the actions of either or both proteins to prevent or treat PD.

Expanding Human Dopamine Neuronal Progenitors for PD Therapeutic Development (2017)
Xiang Li, Ph.D., Mentor: Su-Chun Zhang, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison

Parkinson's develops when brain cells that normally produce the chemical messenger dopamine sicken and die. Among the approaches to treating the disease — as opposed to current therapies which treat and mask symptoms — are to develop therapies that rejuvenate sickened cells by slowing or preventing their death or to replace the dying cells with healthy ones. Both approaches require large quantities of dopamine neurons of uniform quality. To meet that need, we will develop a "cocktail" that will allow us to grow billions of dopamine neurons starting with relatively few human pluripotent stem cells — cells that have the potential to develop into different cell types. Then we will test the cells to be sure they function as dopamine neurons. Our goal is to produce a reliable supply of dopamine neurons for laboratories to use developing new therapies, or in clinical studies of cell transplant therapy.

Dynamic Interaction Between Striatal Dopaminergic and Cholinergic System in Regulation of Beta-band Oscillations as Mechanisms Underlying Pathophysiology of Parkinson's Disease (2016)
Daigo Homma, Ph.D., Mentor: Ann Graybiel, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The brain cells affected by Parkinson's use a chemical messenger called dopamine to help tell the body to move. But dopamine plays additional roles related to learning and other behaviors. Our laboratory recently discovered a new one. In experiments with rats, we found that dopamine release surged in the brain's striatum when the animals were running toward a reward, and were about to achieve their goal. But what happens in PD, when less dopamine is available? We propose that, in this situation, a different set of neurons that use the chemical messenger acetylcholine A chemical messenger (neurotransmitter) in the striatum area of the brain. It is involved in many brain functions, such as memory and control of motor activity. It is believed that acetylcholine and dopamine maintain a delicate balance in the brain. Lack of dopamine in people with Parkinson's disrupts this balance. Anticholinergic medications block acetylcholine. exert more influence. These neurons are already known to play a role in causing PD movement symptoms. In studies with rats, our research aims to understand how both dopamine and acetylcholine signals, converging in the brain's striatum, affect motivated behavior. With a tool called optogenetics, we can separately stimulate (or repress) neurons that use these chemical messengers. Our goal is to provide new insight into the mechanisms that underlie PD, which may lay the foundation for future therapies.

Investigating the Function of Mitochondrial Derived Vesicles in Neurons and Their Role in Parkinson's Disease (2016)
Rosalind Roberts, D.Phil., Mentor: Edward Fon, M.D., McGill University

Within the body's cells, structures called mitochondria are known as the powerhouses. They generate energy for the cell. The genes known as PINK1 and Parkin normally play a role in keeping mitochondria healthy. Mutations in these genes cause rare, inherited cases of Parkinson's, and much research points to mitochondrial damage as a cause of PD. Recent studies show that one way normal (non-mutated) PINK1 and Parkin help mitochondria is by enclosing "garbage" in bubble-like containers called vesicles. The vesicles are then dispatched to a lysosome, the cell's waste processor. I will use a technique called mass spectroscopy, which separates substances based on their mass, to find out what's inside the vesicles and what they are made of. I will also compare the vesicles in cells with and without genetic mutations linked to PD, to discover what might go awry to lead to PD. This is the first study of this kind to be carried out in dopamine neurons, the type of cell affected in PD.

Loss of Glucocerebrosidase Increases Dopaminergic Neuronal Vulnerability by Impairing Autophagic Flux (2016)
Emily Rocha, Ph.D., Mentor: J. Timothy Greenamyre, M.D., Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Mutations in the gene glucocerebrosidase (GBA), which result in low levels of the GBA enzyme, are the most common genetic mutations linked to Parkinson's. Normally, in a process called authophagy, GBA enzyme helps cells to clear and recycle waste products, including clumps of the alpha-synuclein protein. But when levels of GBA are are slow, alpha-synuclein clumps form in dopamine neurons. In fact, the clumps are known as the hallmark of PD. This study will be the first to directly measure the effects of lowered GBA enzyme on autophagy in the dopamine neurons of a living animal, the zebrafish. The research will provide insight into the mechanism that causes alpha-synuclein to form clumps when GBA enzyme is reduced or absent. Then, in experiments with rats engineered to have PD-like symptoms, we will use gene therapy to raise GBA enzyme levels, and determine if this enhances autophagy and prevents alpha-synuclein build-up. Ultimately, we aim to provide new insight into the cellular changes that underlie PD and identify potential strategies for therapies.

Alpha-synuclein Mediated Toxicity in the Aged Rat Brain: Molecular Mechanism of the Nucleus (2016)
Ivette Martinez Sandoval, Ph.D., Mentor: Timothy Collier, Ph.D., Michigan State University

Scientists have long known that the brain cells that die in Parkinson's contain a toxic build-up of a protein called alpha-synuclein. They also know that PD is a disease of aging – most people who develop PD do so after the age of 60. This research investigates the mechanisms by which alpha-synuclein harms brain cells. We seek to understand whether changes in brain cells due to aging make them more vulnerable to alpha-synuclein damage. Recent studies suggest that alpha-synuclein affects the way that brain cells "read" their genes – the way they orchestrate which genes are active or dormant at any given time. In experiments with both young and aged rats engineered to have PD symptoms, I will increase alpha-synuclein levels in the specific brain cells affected by PD. Then I will study the effects of excess alpha-synuclein on the molecular mechanisms that turn genes on and off. A better understanding of these mechanisms, and the ability to compare them in young and aging brain cells, may to lead to new targets for PD therapies.

Thalamostriatal Adaptations in Parkinson's Disease (2016)
Asami Tanimura, Ph.D., Mentor: D. James Surmeier, Ph.D., Northwestern University

Much research in Parkinson's has focused on the loss of brain cells that help to control the body's movement. These brain cells send signals from a region called the substantia nigra An area of the brain, part of the basal ganglia, where cells produce dopamine. to another called the striatum. But a second less-studied brain region, the thalamus A brain structure consisting of two egg-shaped masses of nerve tissue, each about the size of a walnut, deep within the brain. The thalamus is a key relay station for sensory information flowing into the brain and filters out information of particular importance from the mass of signals entering the brain. The ventralis intermediate nucleus (Vim) of the thalamus is one of three potential targets for deep brain stimulation (DBS). DBS to this site can reduce tremor but not the other symptoms of PD., also sends signals to the striatum. We know that changes to cells in the thalamus, including a build-up of alpha-synuclein protein, happen early in the course of PD. This research will compare signaling from the thalamus to the striatum in two groups of mice – normal mice and mice engineered to have PD-like symptoms – to understand how PD affects these circuits. Already, we have identified changes in two specific signaling pathways. With the recent development of a new PD mouse model, we can manipulate these circuits individually. A better understanding of these circuits in an animal model of PD will allow us to investigate ways to return their activity to normal and potentially alleviate movement difficulties. Ultimately this research could lead to new strategies for PD therapies.

Translational Research Grants: $600,000

These aim to ease PD-related cognition, sleep and fatigue difficulties, topics selected as part of our Community Choice Research Awards.

Impact of a Novel Exercise Intervention on Executive Function and Sleep in People with Parkinson's (2017)
Amy Amara, M.D., Ph.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham

Non-motor symptoms such as cognitive difficulties and sleep problems can be more disabling than motor symptoms for many people with Parkinson's. Currently available medications are either ineffective in treating cognition and sleep or offer unwanted side effects. Other therapeutic options such as exercise are known to improve the motor symptoms of PD, but need further exploration for cognition and sleep effects.

This study will examine how a 16-week exercise program, compared to no exercise, impacts cognition and sleep in Parkinson's. Participants will undergo cognitive and sleep testing to measure changes before and after the program. This research aims to identify a cognition and sleep-improving exercise program for people with Parkinson's.

Remotely Supervised Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) for At-home Treatment of Fatigue and Cognitive Slowing in Parkinson's Disease (2017)
Milton Biagioni, M.D., New York University

There is no current effective treatment available for fatigue and slowed thinking, both common PD symptoms. This study is testing an at-home brain stimulation device, along with cognitive training, to see if the dual therapy can ease both symptoms.

Participants can use the low-cost, relatively safe, non-invasive brain stimulation technique, called transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), at home. The computer-based cognitive training exercises work to strengthen cognitive abilities. The study will offer the therapies online, enabling people who have trouble getting to the clinic to take part from home. If the treatment works, the results will guide future brain stimulation research to validate this therapy for fatigue and slowed thinking.

Goal-directed Behavior in Parkinson's Disease (2017)
Nabila Dahodwala, M.D., University of Pennsylvania

Cognitive impairment and apathy are common symptoms that can be disabling for people with Parkinson's and caregivers. Our hypothesis is that these symptoms result from fewer "goal-directed behaviors." Goal-directed behaviors are activities done with purpose (for example, reading a book) versus habits or reactions, such as automatically laughing at a joke.

This study will test a new way of measuring goal-directed behavior in Parkinson's. It will also use brain imaging to observe brain changes that occur when people experience apathy and cognitive impairment. The hope is that the study will shed light on the mechanisms underlying apathy and cognition in PD and help in more easily diagnosing them. This knowledge will ultimately allow for the development of targeted PD treatments.

Multi-modal Neuroimaging of Fatigue in Parkinson's Disease (2017)
Hengyi Rao, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

Fatigue is a common PD symptom and a major contributor to stress and disability. However, because we know so little about its biological causes, it is difficult to find ways to prevent and manage it. This study will use neuroimaging to observe the brain changes underlying fatigue in Parkinson's. It will also explore the use of blue light as a potential treatment. A therapy exposing the eyes to blue light has proven to decrease daytime sleepiness in people with traumatic brain injuries. This study will explore whether this remedy may also be beneficial for easing fatigue in people with Parkinson's by increasing blood flow in the brain.

Characterization of Gastrointestinal and Neuroenteric Dysfunction in Parkinson's Disease (2017)
Amol Sharma, M.D.; Augusta University

Patients with Parkinson's often suffer from debilitating gastrointestinal (GI) issues in addition to many other motor and non-motor symptoms. These can manifest as delayed stomach emptying, gas/bloating, and severe constipation. However, the specific details of GI complaints by PD patients are poorly understood. We seek funding to better characterize GI issues in PD patients, and define the underlying mechanisms by investigating GI symptoms, studying movement of food through the digestive tract, and characterizing communication between the gut and the brain. This study will foster collaboration between movement disorder neurologists, PD patients and gastroenterologists to provide critical information that can lead to innovative therapies in the future to treat GI dysfunction in PD.

2016 Research Grants

The Parkinson's Foundation grants are part of our strategy to invest in leaders in science, health care and the patient community and then mobilize those leaders to work together toward the cure for Parkinson's. The grants below represent our 2016 investments.

Parkinson's Foundation Research Centers: $1.6 Million

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

Columbia University Medical Center
Un Jung Kang, M.D., PI
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.
Karen Marder, M.D., M.P.H.
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., PI
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.
Glenn T. Stebbins, Ph.D.
Dustin R. Wakeman, Ph.D.

Parkinson's Foundation Advancing Parkinson's Treatments Grants: $317,875

Facilitate the movement of treatments from "bench to bedside."

Innovations Awards ($150,000)

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

Parkinson's Foundation Parkinson's Prevalence Project: $50,000

Parkinson's Prevalence Data Analysis
Parkinson's Foundation

Meeting Sponsorship: $88,375

The Disease Modification in Early Parkinson's Disease Consortium | $15,000
(In partnership with the American Parkinson Disease Association)
David Charles, M.D., and Mallory Hacker, Ph.D., Vanderbilt University

Dystonia in Parkinson's Disease ($20,000)

William T. Dauer, M.D., University of Michigan

Non-pharmaceutical Ways of Maintaining Cognitive Function in Parkinson's: ($20,000)

Jennifer G. Goldman, M.D., M.S., Rush University Medical Center

Third Global Force PD: Cell-Based Therapies ($15,000)

Jeffrey H. Kordower, Ph.D., and Lorenz Studer, M.D., Rush University Medical Center and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Second Palliative Care in Parkinson's ($18,375)

Keiran Tuck, M.B.B.S., Julie Carter, R.N., M.S., A.N.P., and Benzi Kluger, M.D., M.S., Oregon Health & Science University and University of Colorado

PAIR Leadership Awards: $29,500

Meaningful Cognitive Outcomes in PD ($5,000)

Jared Benge, Ph.D., A.B.P.P.-C.N., Baylor Scott & White Health

Enhancing Patient Engagement in PD Mental Health Research ($5,000)

Roseanne D. Dobkin, Ph.D., Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Impact of Exercise on Fatigue, Anxiety A feeling of nervousness, worried thoughts and physical distress. and Depression A mood disorder whose symptoms can include a persistent sad or empty mood, feelings of hopelessness or pessimism, irritability and loss of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyable activities. in PD ($9,500)

Mary S. Feldman, D.O., Dartmouth College and Dartmouth-Hitchcock

Parkinson's Disease Outreach and Education to Underserved Communities ($5,000)

Jacqueline Rick, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

The Ecological MOod TrackEr (EMOTE) App in Parkinson's Disease: Filling the Unmet Need ($5,000)

Alit Stark-Inbar, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley

PDF Fellowship and Career Development Awards | $1.17 Million

Prepare leaders in Parkinson's research and clinical practice.

Clinical Training Fellowships ($460,000)

Columbia University Medical Center
Deepak Gupta, M.D.
Devin Hall, M.D.
Lan Luo, M.D.*
Sarah O'Shea, M.D.
Miriam Sklerov, M.D.**

Rush University Medical Center
Meagan Bailey, M.D.*
Avram Fraint, M.D.

Stanley Fahn Junior Faculty Awards: $900,000

High Throughput in Vivo Screens for Targeted Parkinson's Disease Gene Therapies
James Dahlman, Ph.D., Georgia Institute of Technology

Parkinson's Genetic Risk Factors in Latino Populations
Ignacio Fernandez Mata, Ph.D., University of Washington

Direct Pathway Striatal Activity in Dyskinesia
Alexandra Nelson, M.D., Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco

Postdoctoral Research Fellowships: $500,000

Dynamic Interaction Between Striatal Dopaminergic and Cholinergic System in Regulation of Beta-band Oscillations as Mechanisms Underlying PD Pathophysiology
Daigo Homma, Ph.D., Mentor: Ann Graybiel, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Investigating the Function of Mitochondrial Derived Vesicles in Neurons and Their Role in PD
Rosalind Roberts, D.Phil., Mentor: Edward Fon, M.D., McGill University

Loss of Glucocerebrosidase Increases Dopaminergic Neuronal Vulnerability by Impairing Autophagic Flux
Emily Rocha, Ph.D., Mentor: J. Timothy Greenamyre, M.D., Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Alpha-synuclein A protein in the human brain that is associated with the development of Parkinson's. It is the main component of Lewy bodies. Mediated Toxicity in the Aged Rat Brain Molecular Mechanism of the Nucleus
Ivette Martinez Sandoval, Ph.D., Mentor: Timothy Collier, Ph.D., Michigan State University

Thalamostriatal Adaptations in Parkinson's
Asami Tanimura, Ph.D., Mentor: D. James Surmeier, Ph.D., Northwestern University

Collaborative Fellowships: $102,500

Parkinson's Foundation-ABF Clinician-Scientist Development Award ($52,500)

(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

Parkinson's Foundation-PSG Mentored Clinical Research Award ($50,000)

(In partnership with the Parkinson Study Group)
Cerebellar Morphologic and Functional MRI Measures as a Biomarker of Cognitive Impairment in Parkinson's Disease
Baijayanta Maiti, M.D., Ph.D., Mentors: Joel Perlmutter, M.D., and Steven Petersen, Ph.D., Washington University in St. Louis

Parkinson's Foundation-APDA Summer Student Fellowships ($60,000)

(In partnership with the American Parkinson Disease Association)

Identifying Elements of the Transcriptional Regulatory Network of PARIS (ZNF746) Involved in Alpha-synuclein-Induced Neurodegeneration
Preston Ge, Mentor: Ted Dawson, M.D., Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University

The Interaction of Parkinson's Disease Gene FBXO7 with Bag2
Dima Hage, Mentor: David Park, Ph.D., University of Ottawa

DBH-ASYN Mouse Model, Effect of Inflammation in Gastrointestinal System
Kiana Khosravian, Mentor: Malú Tansey, Ph.D., Emory University

The Role of the ESCRT Complex in a Vesicular Trafficking Pathway from Mitochondria to Lysosomes
Sydney Lee, Mentor: Edward Fon, M.D., McGill University

REM Sleep Without Atonia Signatures Help Distinguish Between Synucleinopathy Disorders
Stuart McCarter, Mentor: Erik St. Louis, M.D., Mayo Clinic

In Vivo Optical Measurement of Direct and Indirect Path Projection Neuron Activity in a PD Rodent Model with Treatment of L-DOPA and Cannabinoid Antagonists
Rachel Mikofsky, Mentor: David Sulzer, Ph.D., Columbia University Medical Center

Relevance of Amino Acid Charge/Polarity in New Familial Mutants of Alpha-synuclein
Emily Ong, Mentor: Shubhik DebBurman, Ph.D., Lake Forest College

Impact of Inflammation on Alpha-synuclein Expression in the Colonic Enteric Nervous System
Henry Resnikoff, Mentor: Marina Emborg. M.D., Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison

Association Between Water Source and Incidental Parkinson's Disease
Maya Silver, Mentor: Brad Racette, M.D., Washington University

Investigation of Dopamine Neuron Degeneration as a Consequence of Microbiome-Derived Bacteria
Samuel Stanley, Mentor: Kim Caldwell, Ph.D., University of Alabama

Parkinson's Disease Penetrance in Obligate Carriers of SMPD1 Mutations
Adina Wise, Mentor: Roy Alcalay, M.D., M.S., Columbia University Medical Center

High Angular Resolution Diffusion Imaging Correlates of Cognitive Impairment in Parkinson's Disease
Kali Xu, Mentor: Kathleen Poston, M.D., M.S., Stanford University School of Medicine

* Denotes a second year of funding ** Denotes third year of funding

2015 Research Grants

In addition to our Investigator Awards, we also funded more than 40 research grants in 2015 as part of our strategy to solve, treat and end Parkinson's disease (PD).

Our Scientific Advisory Board and people with PD who bring knowledge of living with the disease and a deep understanding of which problems need solutions, helped select the research we invested in. The board determines what research is likely to improve the lives and futures of people living with PD.

Research Centers: $1.6 Million

Our Research Centers allow talented scientists to collaborate on basic, translational and clinical research.

Columbia University Medical Center
Un Jung Kang, M.D., PI
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.
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., F.R.C.P.C.
Yaakov Stern, Ph.D.
David Sulzer, Ph.D.
Jean Paul  G. Vonsattel, M.D.
Cheryl H. Waters, M.D., F.R.C.P.C.
Ai Yamamoto, Ph.D.

Rush University Medical Center
Christopher G. Goetz, M.D., PI
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.
Dustin R. Wakeman, Ph.D.

Fellowship and Career Development Awards: $983,000

These prepare leaders in Parkinson's research and clinical practice.

Clinical Training Fellowships: $390,500

Columbia University Medical Center
Shabbir Hussan I. Merchant, M.D., Lan Luo, M.D., Madeleine Sharp, M.D., Miriam Sklerov, M.D.

Rush University Medical Center
Meagan Bailey, M.D., Ian O. Bledsoe, M.D.

Postdoctoral Research Fellowships: $300,000

Alpha-synuclein Aggregation Causes Toxicity by Decreasing Functional Forms of the Protein
Matthew Benskey, Ph.D., Mentor: Fredric P. Manfredsson, Ph.D., Michigan State University

Mechanisms for the Modulation of Striatonigral and Striatopallidal Neuron Activity by Phosphodiesterase 10A Inhibition in L-DOPA-induced Dyskinesia
Fernando Padovan-Neto, Ph.D., Mentor: Anthony R. West, Ph.D., Rosalind Franklin University

Deciphering the Mechanism of Action of Parkin Using a Structure-based FRET-reporter System
Matthew Tang, Ph.D., Mentor: Edward Fon, M.D., Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University

Novel Deep Brain Stimulation Paradigms on Treating Parkinsonian Non-human Primates and the Underlying Physiological Plasticity
Jing Wang, Ph.D., Mentor: Jerrold Vitek, M.D., Ph.D., University of Minnesota

Input- and Cell-type Specific Rewiring of Subcellular Connectivity in the Striatum in Parkinsonian Mice
Yu-Wei, Wu, Ph.D., Mentor: Jun Ding, Ph.D., Stanford University School of Medicine

Phosphorylated Alpha-synuclein Peptides as Biomarkers of Parkinson's Disease
Li Yang, Ph.D., Mentor: Jing Zhang, M.D., Ph.D.,
University of Washington 

Collaborative Fellowships: $142,500

Parkinson's Foundation-AANI Clinician-Scientist Development Award ($52,500)

(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

Parkinson's Foundation-PSG Mentored Clinical Research Award ($50,000)

(In partnership with the Parkinson Study Group)

Comparative Evaluation of Data-driven Parkinson's Disease Subtypes for Clinical Research
Tiago Mestre, M.D., M.Sc., Mentor: Connie Marras, M.D., F.R.C.P.C., Ph.D., University of Ottawa

Parkinson's Foundation-HHMI Medical Research Fellowship ($40,000)

(In partnership with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute)

Correlation of SIRT6 Expression with Differential Vulnerability of Dopaminergic Neurons to Pathology in Normal Aging and Parkinson's Disease
Alireza Samiei, Mentor: Mel Feany, M.D., Ph.D., Harvard Medical School

Stanley Fahn Research Fellowships ($100,000)

Two years of research support for top-ranked applicants to the Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program.
Functional Analysis of Dopamine-dependent Circuits Activity in Parkinson's Disease*
Nan Li, Ph.D., Mentor: Alan Jasanoff, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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

Summer Student Fellowships ($40,000)

Palliative Care in PD: A Mixed Methods Analysis Project
Isabel Boersma, M.S., Mentor: Benzi Kluger, M.D., M.S., University of Colorado School of Medicine

Investigating Clinical and Pathological Differences in Parkinson's Disease and Related Alpha-synucleinopathies via Immunohistochemistry
Hannah Bucklin, Mentor: Virginia M.Y. Lee, Ph.D., Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

Evaluation of Striatal Expression for AGTR1 in the Striatonigral Pathway
Julia Cha, Mentor: Ann Graybiel, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Role of Glutaredoxin 2 in Mitochondrial Integrity and Dopaminergic Protection in C. elegans Model of PD
Pierce Curran, Mentor: Shu Chen, Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University

Testing the Protective Ability, Mechanism, and Stability of Guanabenz Derivatives for Potential Use in Parkinson's Disease-Targeted Neuroprotective Therapy
David Dai, Mentor: Lloyd A. Greene, Ph.D., Columbia University Medical Center

Effects of Inosine on Blood Glutathione in SURE-PD Trial
Daniel Di Luca, Mentor: Michael Schwarzschild, M.D., Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital

Evaluating c-Abl Phosphorylation of Parkin in Animal Models of Parkinson's Disease
Preston Ge, Mentor: Ted Dawson, M.D., Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Regulation of LRRK2 Activity Through PIRB
William Pan, Mentor: Zhenyu Yue, Ph.D., Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Gastric Administration of Paraquat and Lectins Linked to the Parkinsonian-like Gastric Dysmotility in Rats
Michael Skolka, Mentor: R. Alberto Travagli, Ph.D., Penn State Hershey College of Medicine

Role of the Subthalamic Nucleus in Blink Suppression
Maryam Vaseghi-Shanjani, Mentor: Robert Chen, M.A., M.B., BChir., M.Sc., F.R.C.P.C., Toronto Western Research Institute

Student Travel Awards ($13,000)

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

Eastern North American Region International Biometric Society Spring Meeting

Augmented Beta Rectangular Regression Models: A Bayesian Perspective
Jue Wang, Mentor: Sheng Luo, Ph.D., University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

45th Annual Society for Neuroscience Meeting

A Common Neuroinflammatory Profile Associated with Intrastriatal
Megan Duffy, Mentor: Caryl E. Sortwell, Ph.D., Michigan State University

Evolution of Limb Kinematics During Fine Motor Skill Acquisition in Rats
Titus John, Mentor: Daniel Leventhal, M.D., Ph.D., University of Michigan

Modulation of LRRK2 Kinase Activity by a Fragment of its COR Domain
Adam Schaffner, Mentor: Zhenyu Yue, Ph.D., Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Impaired Alpha-Synuclein Membrane Interaction Promotes Aggregation and Neurotoxicity in Parkinson's Disease
Daniel Ysselstein, Mentor: Jean-Christophe Rochet, Ph.D., Purdue University

Gordon Conference on Oxidative Stress and Disease

DJ-1 in Grx1 Mediated Dopaminergic Neuronal Protection
William Johnson, Mentor: John Mieyal, Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University

International Society for Posture and Gait Research Congress

Does Anxiety Compete for Processing Resources During Walking and a Dual-task in Parkinson's?
Brittany Intzandt, Mentor: Quincy J. Almeida, M.Sc., Ph.D., Wilfrid Laurier University

Keystone Symposia: Neuroinflammation in Diseases of the Central Nervous System

Genetic Variant Associated with Altered HLA Expression and PD
George Kannarkat, Mentor: Malú Tansey, Ph.D., Emory University

Meeting of the American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy

rAAV-mediated Regulation of Striatal Nurr1 Expression Alters Development and Severity of Levodopa-induced Dyskinesias in the 6OHDA Rat Model of Parkinson's
Rhyomi Sellnow, Mentor: Fredric P. Manfredsson, Ph.D., Michigan State University

19th International Congress of Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders: The Neuroprotective Potential of Subthalamic Nucleus DBS in an Alpha-synuclein

Overexpression Rat Model of PD
David Luke Fischer, Mentor: Caryl E. Sortwell, Ph.D., Michigan State University

Genetic Variation and Cognitive Impairment in Parkinson's Disease Patients from Uruguay
Andrés Lescano, M.D., Mentor: Ignacio Fernandez Mata, Ph.D., University of Washington

International Research Grants: $330,000

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

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

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

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

Advancing Parkinson's Treatments Grants: $515,000

Facilitate the movement of treatments from "bench to bedside."

Parkinson's Foundation Parkinson's Prevalence Project ($250,000)

Prevalence of Parkinson's Disease in Olmsted County, Minn.
James Bower, M.D., M.Sc. and Rodolfo Savica, M.D., M.Sc., Mayo Clinic Rochester

Parkinson's Disease Prevalence in the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study
G. Webster Ross, M.D., Pacific Health Research & Education Institute

Prevalence and Incidence of Parkinson's Disease in 4 California Counties 2008-10
Caroline M. Tanner, M.D., Ph.D. University of California San Francisco

Prevalence of Parkinsonism in Kaiser Permanente Northern California 
Stephen Van Den Eeden, Ph.D., Kaiser Permanente Division of Research

Verification of PD Diagnosis in Individuals Who Do Not See a Neurologist
Allison Willis, M.D., M.S., University of Pennsylvania

Innovations Awards ($150,000)

Parkinson Study Group: Advancing Clinical Research 
Michael Schwarzschild, M.D., Ph.D., and Hubert Fernandez, M.D.

Meeting Sponsorship: $115,000

Gordon Research Conference on PD ($100,000)

Emerging Research in the Etiology and Pathogenesis of a Complex Disease
David Sulzer, Ph.D., and Andrew Singleton, Ph.D., Columbia University Medical Center and National Institutes of Health

Van Andel Institute Grand Challenges in PD ($3,000)

Patrik Brundin, M.D., Ph.D., Van Andel Institute

Fostering New Directions in PD Research: Movement Disorders Course for Graduate and Postdoctoral Students and Junior Neurologists ($10,000)

International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society

American Society for Neural Therapy and Repair Conference ($2,000)

Michael Modo, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh

Conference Awards: $93,000

Fatigue in PD Follow-Up: Cytokine Levels
Christopher Fagundes, Ph.D., M.S., Rice University and Karen Herlofson, M.D., Ph.D., Sorlandet Hospital, Norway.

Global Force PD: Cell Based Therapies for PD
Claire Henchcliffe, M.D., D.Phil., Lorenz Studer, M.D., and Viviane Tabar, M.D., Weill Cornell Medical College and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Palliative Care in Parkinson's Disease 
Benzi Kluger, M.D., M.S., University of Colorado

PAIR Leadership Awards: $15,000

What Constitutes a Meaningful Cognitive Outcome in Parkinson's?
Jared Benge, Ph.D., A.B.P.P.-C.N., Baylor Scott & White Health

Parkinson's Disease Outreach and Education on Behalf of the University of Pennsylvania Udall Center
Jacqueline Rick, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

Development and Continuous Usage Feedback from the Parkinson's Disease Community on the Ecological MOod TrackEr (EMOTE) App: Filling in the Unmet Need
Alit Stark-Inbar, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley

2015 Investigator Awards

Under the direction of its Scientific Advisory Board, the Parkinson's Foundation most recently awarded the following Clinical Research and Intervention Investigator Awards for Parkinson's Disease. The four grants targeted key scientific questions about gender differences in Parkinson's, cognition and inflammation:

Determinants of Sex Differences in Caregiving for Parkinson's Disease
Nabila Dahodwala, M.D., University of Pennsylvania

We awarded Dr. Dahodwala a two-year grant to study issues resulting in caregiving differences and to explore potential improved caregiving options. Starting with an analysis of data from Parkinson's Foundation Parkinson's Outcomes Project, Dr. Dahodwala will study barriers to effective caregiving, starting in a small-scale setting and expanding to understand a large and diverse group. Drawing on outcomes data, she will design an approach to help clinicians to address issues of caregiving and to engage clinic social workers to improve the lives of both women and men affected by PD.

The Relationship Between Microglial Activation and β-amyloid Deposition in PD-MCI and PD-dementia
Antonio Strafella, M.D., Ph.D., University of Toronto, Toronto

In 2010, the Parkinson's Foundation awarded Dr. Strafella a grant to research how patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) The intermediate stage between the cognitive decline of normal aging and dementia. It can involve problems with memory, language, thinking and judgement. differed from those without, at the level of deep brain structures, using advanced imaging techniques. Dr. Strafella will follow up this work looking at inflammation, studying the impact of the Alzheimer's protein β-amyloid in Parkinson's. This study will use an advanced imaging technique, positron emission tomography (PET) scans, to examine how many key factors interrelate in the brain. First, they will look at the brain's immune system's activation, which is based on cells called microglia that respond to inflammation in the brain, in patients experiencing cognitive change. Second, they will look for β-amyloid deposition to see if this Alzheimer's protein links to the inflammation. Finally, they will look to see if the brain atrophies in regions where they find one or both signals. A big question is which comes first: the bad proteins or the inflammation? They will base this study around a new technology: an innovative PET-scan tracer showing where the brain's immune system is active.

Neuroinflammation via T-cell Response in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Diseases
David Sulzer, Ph.D., Columbia University

Dr. Sulzer explores a radical new hypothesis in this study: could Parkinson's disease be significantly characterized as an autoimmune disorder, where immune system response, rather than toxic protein accumulation, causes Parkinson's the cell damage? Dr. Sulzer's lab has found two markers of immune response present in people with Parkinson's. Though this work relates to the current focus on the key Parkinson's protein called α-synuclein, it suggests that this protein's greatest impact may be downstream from its synthesis and misfolding. By focusing on studying tissue from people with Parkinson's and not models, Dr. Sulzer hopes to provide a greater understanding of Parkinson's.

Establishing the Link Between Canonical TGFβ-superfamily Signaling and Parkinson's Disease Pathophysiology
Paschalis Sideras, Ph.D., Biomedical Research Foundation Academy, Athens, Greece

Signaling proteins called transforming growth factor-beta (TGFβ) proteins regulate several brain processes, including some inflammatory reactions. Scientists know that several TGFβ proteins link to Parkinson's, but do not know how. Dr. Sideras will study these regulatory proteins in several mouse models of Parkinson's, looking for common responses across models that could help inform treatment decisions and future research. Dr. Sideras hopes that understanding TGFβ will guide strategies to make the dopamine-producing neurons more resistant to PD.

Additional Past Funded Research

Prion-like Propagation of a-Synuclein Pathology in iPSC-derived Dopamine Neurons from Patients with Parkinson's Disease
Edward A. Fon, M.D., FRCP-C, Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

Using induced stem cell lines derived from actual patients (non-embryonic), Dr. Fon will create neurons with PD in a cell culture. He and his team will then look closely at the internal structures of the cells and how PD pathology affects them at the cell level. They will also create neurons from people who didn't have Parkinson's so that they can compare. Dr. Fon's team has tested almost 200,000 potential drugs to stop Parkinson's using generic human-derived cells and found some that seem like they may be able to slow down or stop the disease. They will repeat this test using actual, human-derived neurons created using induced stem cells to screen potential drugs to stop PD.

Studies of Prion-like Peripheral to CNS Transmission of α-Synuclein Pathology Mouse Models
Benoit Giasson, Ph.D., Center for Translational Research in Neurodegenerative Disease, UF Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration, University of Florida, Gainesville

The key to Parkinson's may be a protein called alpha-synuclein. Dr. Giasson and his team are going to inject clumps of alpha-synuclein into the bodies of animals and then figure out if it can get into the brain from, for example, an injection in the leg. If the protein does spread this way, and if the animal then develops symptoms of PD, then this could prove that this model does work. This also would give us an easily made PD model that could be used to study drugs that might cure the disease.

PET Imaging of Hyperphosphorylated Tau Denotes Cognitive Impairment in Parkinson's Disease
Stephen Gomperts, M.D., Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston

The protein tau, seen in Parkinson's is better known for its association with cognitive change in other conditions such as Alzheimer's disease A neurodegenerative disorder that results in loss of memory, thinking and language skills and behavioral changes. It is the most common form of dementia. or chronic traumatic encephalopathy caused by repeated impact to the brain. A newly developed radioactive tracer will show where the protein tau is accumulating and create a picture using a PET scan. For the first time, scientists will be able to look at tau in patients living with PD and figure out if the cognitive change we see in PD is a result of this protein or something else.

Exercise Targeting Cognitive Impairment in Parkinson's Disease
Giselle M. Petzinger, M.D., University of Southern California, Los Angeles

Parkinson's experts believe that exercise is as important as any drug in holding back the disease, but many people with PD wonder, "What kind of exercise should I do?" This study will test a new exercise protocol that Dr. Petzinger developed from studying the biology of exercise at the cellular level versus a more traditional approach. Her goal will be to show that this new, specially designed exercise protocol improves high-level thinking in people with Parkinson's. This important work will focus on improving early and subtle aspects of cognitive change, including standard tests of executive function but also novel tests that incorporate testing of aspects of thinking that are important to patients.

Risk Factors for Cognitive Change in Parkinson's Disease from the Framingham Study
Rhoda Au, Ph.D., Boston University School of Medicine

If successful, this study will help us to understand how much cognitive change seen in Parkinson's is really part of Parkinson's disease, rather than in association with other factors. It will show us how much research into Alzheimer's disease and other dementiasA term used to describe a group of brain disorders that cause a broad complex of symptoms such as disorientation, confusion, memory loss, impaired judgment and alterations in mood and personality. can influence Parkinson's-associated cognitive change and show us how much research into those diseases could help people with Parkinson's.

Can Parkinson's Disease be Prevented?
Anat Mirelman, PhD; Nir Giladi, MD, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Israel

Researchers are conducting this study to find if tracking the incidence of PD in a population where the expected incidence is known but subjected to a series of neuroprotective interventions can prevent PD.

Are Novel MRI features Suitable Biomarkers for Motor and Non-motor Manifestations of Parkinson's Disease?
Martin McKeown, M.D., University of British Columbia, Canada

This study aims to show that the shape of brain structures, identified by imaging, can show Parkinson's disease and track its progress.

Motor Programming and Memory
M. Felice Ghilardi, M.D., New York University

This study identifies PD motor learning deficit mechanisms and explores possible correction.

Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB) in PD
Carlos Singer, M.D., University of Miami

Researchers are conducting this study of 200 people with PD to identify SDB prevalence in PD, determine the correlation of SDB and PD-related cognitive impairment, and determine positive airway pressure (PAP) effects on SDB and cognition in PD. The study enrolls both English- and Spanish-speaking participants.

Biomarker Assessment of the Parkinson's Associated Risk Study (PARS) Cohort
Matthew Stern, M.D., MSCE, University of Pennsylvania

This study uses biospecimens collected while the first signs of PD progress into diagnosable PD to find if the blood chemistry changes show PD presence and progression. The ultimate PARS project goal is to better understand who may be at risk for PD to prevent it before it starts. Learn more information about the PARS study

ParkFit Trial Analysis
Bastiaan Bloem, M.D., Ph.D., Radboud University, Netherlands

This study is testing a motivational regimen to see if it is the right approach to encourage patients to exercise and to measure the results achieved.

The Nintendo Wii vs. Handheld Control Gaming and its Relationship to Function in Clients with Parkinson's Disease
N. Ben Herz, OTD, MBA, OTR, Georgia Health and Sciences University

This study is evaluating the use of the Wii for therapy for PD patients, with the goal of proving that the objective measures of performance and adherence available with the Wii will result in better outcomes.

Visual Attention Deficits as an Early Sign of Cognitive Change
Sherrilene Classen, Ph.D., MPH, OTR/L, University of Florida

This study is exploring visual attention deficit as a symptom of Parkinson's disease, yielding new insight into how Parkinson's affects the brain and the manifestations of these symptoms.

Early Detection of Cognitive Changes in the Brain
Antonio Strafella, M.D., Ph.D., FRCPC, Toronto Western Research Institute

This study is using advanced imaging techniques to study the mechanisms that lead to Parkinson's-related cognitive impairment in Parkinson's disease, a model pioneered successfully in Alzheimer's disease.

Comparing Physical Therapy Outcomes: LSVT-BIG© v. Aquatic Methods
David J. Houghton, MD, MPH, University of Louisville

This study compares two new PD physical therapy approaches, potentially establishing aquatic therapy efficacy, a therapy Medicare currently does not cover.

Comparing PD Management Strategies: Comprehensive Service Delivery vs. Standard Care
Robert Iansek, Ph.D., Victorian Comprehensive Parkinson Program, Australia

This study is exploring the cost-effectiveness of coordinated care versus uncoordinated care in a controlled experiment.

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