Parkinson Society Canada National Research Program, 27 new awards

Parkinson Society Canada, together with its regional partners, is proudly supporting 27 new grant, fellowship and student awards, as of July 1, 2012:

  • 11 Pilot Project grants

(2 funded by Parkinson Society British Columbia and Parkinson Society Ottawa)

  • 2 New Investigator Awards
  • 4 Basic Research Fellowships

(1 funded by Parkinson Society British Columbia)

  • 1 Clinical Movement Disorders Fellowship, in partnership with TEVA Canada Innovation
  • 2 Clinical Research Fellowships
  • 5 Graduate Student Awards

(2 funded by Parkinson Society Saskatchewan and Parkinson Society Ottawa)

  • 1 Psychosocial Doctoral Award, in partnership with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) – Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health & Addiction
  • 1 Psychosocial Research Grant, in partnership with CIHR – Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health & Addiction

These new awards represent a total of $1,559,608 committed to support new research projects in Canada over the next two years.  Including the 15 research awards in their second year, the National Research Program is currently committed to investing $2,021,553 towards research.

2013-2015 research competition now open

Applications are now being accepted in the Graduate Studentship Award, Clinical Research Fellowship and Psychosocial Doctoral Training Award categories of the Parkinson Society Canada National Research Program. For more information, seeRequest for Applications.

Click here for more information on these awards, including project titles and amounts.

Current areas of research focus

Causes of Parkinson’s. Movement is usually controlled partly by a chemical called dopamine, which carries signals between nerve cells in the brain. Parkinson’s motor symptoms appear when a significant proportion of dopamine-producing cells have died gradually. Researchers are investigating the chemical or genetic triggers that start the cell death process in dopamine neurons. Understanding this sequence of events will ultimately enable scientists to develop treatments to stop or prevent the loss of dopamine-producing cells. In the future, this could lead to a cure for Parkinson’s disease.

Complications of Parkinson’s. Researchers are investigating motor and non-motor complications associated with Parkinson’s. The findings can lead to improved treatments and better quality of life for people with the disease.

Cognitive Impairment and Parkinson’s. Researchers are exploring how cognitive deficits affect the Parkinson brain. The more researchers discover about the links between Parkinson’s and cognitive changes, the greater their ability to develop specialized treatments for managing and preventing these symptoms.

Biomarkers. Biomarkers play an important role in determining whether a person has or is likely to develop a disease. Identifying biomarkers to detect the early stages of Parkinson’s would allow people with Parkinson’s to start treatments before significant nerve cell loss occurs and motor symptoms, such as resting tremors, appear. Biomarkers could also be used to spot people at risk of developing Parkinson’s, to improve diagnosis, to measure disease progression and to determine which treatment will work best.

Clinical Fellowships. People with Parkinson’s, regardless of where they live in Canada, deserve consistent, high quality care. Clinical Fellowships enable medical professionals, such as doctors, neurologists or neurosurgeons, to receive specialized training in caring for people with Parkinson’s. This ensures more Canadian medical specialists can provide high quality care to people with Parkinson’s.

Quality of Life. Quality of life research helps empower people with Parkinson’s and their families to live their lives to the fullest, despite the limitations of this disease. The researchers funded in this area come from a variety of health professions – nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech language pathology and social work. Their findings can lead to better treatments, improved support services, and advocacy strategies that help policy makers better understand the particular challenges of Parkinson’s disease.

Neuroscientist Kaylena Ehgoetz Martens is using an innovative new tool – virtual reality – to develop rehabilitation strategies to help people with Parkinson’s disease better navigate their environments and reduce their falls, freezing and shuffling. The PhD candidate at the University of Waterloo is determining how people with Parkinson’s perceive their environment and the movements of their own bodies.

“We’re trying to understand how brain dysfunction contributes to the control of walking. Then we want to translate that knowledge into rehab programs to give people with Parkinson’s disease better strategies to move and correctly perceive their environment.”

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