Parkinson Society Canada National Research Program

Your research dollars at work

Parkinson Society Canada has funded more than 400 awards, fellowships, and grants, since 1981. The resulting research is teaching us more about how to prevent, diagnose and treat Parkinson’s disease.

Studying how pesticide exposure affects the development of Parkinson’s disease

Dr. Scott Ryan
Post-doctoral Fellow
Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

At Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, Post-doctoral Fellow Dr. Scott Ryan investigates the relationship between genetic mutations and pesticide exposure in Parkinson’s disease. Using florescent microscopy techniques, Dr. Ryan will study the effects of pesticides on mitochondria, the parts of a cell responsible for producing energy.

“We hope to learn more about what exactly goes wrong in cells following exposure to pesticides and how it can affect the development of diseases, such as Parkinson’s.”

Investigating bowel biopsy as a diagnostic test for Parkinson’s disease

Dr. Anthony Lang
Director, Division of Neurology, University of Toronto
Director, Movement Disorders Clinic, Toronto Western Hospital

Dr. Anthony Lang is investigating if a bowel biopsy from a colonoscopy is an effective diagnostic tool for Parkinson’s disease. If he finds it is, he will explore the effectiveness of bowel biopsies from rigid sigmoidoscopy. Unlike a colonoscopy, this procedure can be performed in any clinic room and patients don’t need to take laxatives. This could result in a widely available screening method for Parkinson’s disease and perhaps a way of monitoring the impact of disease modifying therapies.

“The hope is that we’ll have a way to diagnose the disease at a very early stage. In the future, this could help us implement disease modifying therapies when they are going to be most effective and also measure the effects of those therapies.”

Learning more about why people with Parkinson’s often develop uncontrolled movements

Dr. Andre Felicio
Post-doctoral Fellow
Pacific Parkinson’s Research Centre, University of British Columbia

Many people with Parkinson’s disease develop dyskinesia, uncontrolled movements that can be a side effect of dopamine-replacement therapy. But dopamine may not be the only chemical involved. Using brain imaging, University of British Columbia neurologist Dr. Andre Felicio investigates whether the chemical serotonin also plays a role in this debilitating side effect.

“Currently, therapies for dyskinesia focus only on dopamine dysfunction. We’re studying whether another chemical in the brain, serotonin, is involved. Learning more about the causes of dyskinesia is important in order to develop more effective therapies.”

For more information about Parkinson Society Canada’s National Research Program and currently-funded research, see:

Newly-funded researchers honoured at celebratory events

Thanks to generous donors and supporters, and with funds raised from the annual nation-wide Parkinson SuperWalk, a total of  $1,713,208 has recently been awarded to 33 researchers.

See photographs of the events held to honour the researchers and present them with their awards.

October 18, 2012 – Parkinson Society British Columbia
October 23, 2012 – Parkinson Society Ottawa
November 6, 2012 – Parkinson Society Quebec
November 7, 2012 – Parkinson Society Southwestern Ontario
November 14, 2012 – Parkinson Society Saskatchewan
November 27, 2012 – Parkinson Society Central & Northern Ontario