Parkinson's Foundation Announces $1.2 Million Investment

8/8/17

The Parkinson's Foundation is pleased to announce a $1.2 million investment in 27 career development and fellowship grants to support the work of promising early career scientists in the field of Parkinson's.

"We are proud to continue our long-standing tradition of nurturing the careers of the next generation of Parkinson's researchers," said John L. Lehr, chief executive officer of the Parkinson's Foundation. "Their innovative ideas may one day transform the field for millions worldwide."

Every year, the Parkinson's Foundation invests $4 million in a diverse research portfolio. A significant portion of that amount is directed toward career development grants and fellowships. The grant programs, which range from three months to two years in length, provide students, and postdoctoral researchers and clinicians with the opportunity to test new ideas, work with mentors and transition into senior leaders.

One standout grant recipient this year is Xi Chen, Ph.D., of the Van Andel Research Institute, who is using a $100,000 postdoctoral fellowship to study an emerging area of genetics: the VPS35 gene. The role of the VPS35 gene, which was discovered to play a part in Parkinson's, is not well understood. Working under the guidance of mentor Darren Moore, Ph.D., whose early research was also funded by the Parkinson's Foundation, Dr. Chen will study a mouse model to understand how VPS35 might interact with proteins and brain cells and potentially lead to Parkinson's symptoms. This understanding of the VPS35 gene may help to develop new drugs to prevent or treat Parkinson's in the future.

"As a former grantee, I know firsthand that the Parkinson's Foundation grant funding can help to launch a career in Parkinson's," Dr. Moore said. "In today's funding environment, the foundation's grants fill a critical gap and ensure that the best research continues."

"The Parkinson's Foundation recognizes that we must support the creativity and ingenuity of the next generation in order to make advances," said James Beck, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of the Parkinson's Foundation. "We are excited to track results from Dr. Chen and others whose work holds potential to help us end Parkinson's."

Parkinson's Foundation research investments are selected through a competitive application process reviewed by its Scientific Advisory Board, which includes scientific experts and foundation-trained patient advocates.

The foundation's latest career development and fellowship grants are listed below. Additional information is available at: www.pdf.org/results_funded.

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