Download a PDF of Parkinson Canada Research Program Awards for the current cycle.

Research Area: Causes
Recruiting the brain’s underdogs
Natalina Salmaso
Canada Research Chair in Behavioural Neurobiology
Carleton University
Pedaling for Parkinson’s Pilot Project Grant
Pilot Project Grant
$45,000 over 1 year

Carleton University researcher Natalina Salmaso is applying her knowledge of a class of brain cells called astrocytes, which have not previously been considered major players in the development of Parkinson’s disease. By stimulating these cells into action, she hopes to demonstrate the role they play in addressing the effects of this disorder. Her work may point the way to a therapeutic strategy that supports the body’s mechanisms for healing itself.


Research Area: Complications
Preventing a cure from becoming as bad as the disease
Martin Parent
Laval University
Pilot Project Grant
$45,000 over 2 years

Dr. Martin Parent, an associate professor at Laval University’s Department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, is studying the cause of dyskinesia, uncontrolled movements that are a side effect of the levodopa therapy that is still the best drug treatment for Parkinson’s disease. He and his colleagues will be using an innovative new gene-editing technology to manipulate the function of a specific gene they regard as a primary cause of this problem.


Research Area: Complications
Connecting transplanted brain cells
Caroline Lafrechoux
Laval University
Funded by the Lanka Charitable Foundation
Graduate Student Award
$30,000 over 2 years

At Laval University, Master’s student Caroline Lafrechoux is investigating how to guide the axons, or the connectors, between transplanted cells in the area of the brain where dopamine-producing cells are dying. If she can find a way to guide the axons to the right locations within the brain, she’ll improve the prospects for brain cell transplantation as a way to replace the damaged and dying cells that are causing Parkinson’s disease.


Research Area: Complications
Easing the pain of Parkinson’s
Dr. Susan Fox, Professor
Associate Director, Movement Disorders Clinic Toronto Western Hospital
University of Toronto
Garden Centre Group Co-op Corp. Pilot Project Grant
Pilot Project Grant
$45,000 over 1 year

With the legalization of marijuana on the horizon, many people are approaching their doctors to see if the oft-touted benefits of cannabinoids could help them. At the University of Toronto, Professor Susan Fox is conducting a small pilot study to see if applying cannabis oil provides relief from the sometimes sharp, burning pain that people with Parkinson’s suffer.


Research Area: Complications
Speaking up for Parkinson’s patients
Anita Abeyeskera
PhD student
Western University
Porridge for Parkinson’s (Toronto) Graduate Student Award
Graduate Student Award
$30,000 over 2 years

Western University doctoral student Anita Abeyesekera is applying her speech-language pathology and speech science background to open up a new approach to the study of hypophonia, the diminishment of the speaking voice that is often a characteristic of Parkinson’s disease. Her work focuses on understanding the experience people have of hearing their voices as being louder than they actually are, an observation that raises questions about how this disease affects sensory processing in the brain.


Research Area: Cognitive Impairment
Reigning in impulsivity
Dr. Melanie Tremblay
Post-Doctoral Fellow
University of Toronto
Pedaling for Parkinson’s Basic Research Fellowship
Basic Research Fellowship
$80,000 over 2 years

New medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease can be blessings for people who no longer respond to levodopa, the most commonly prescribed medication for this condition. But a side effect of this new class of medications can be impulsivity, leading to excessive gambling or other harmful problems. At the University of British Columbia, Melanie Tremblay investigates the underlying mechanisms in the brain that make people vulnerable to this side effect, to see if researchers could reverse the problem or develop another drug to treat it.


Research Area: Cognitive Impairment
Bringing networks back online
Dr. Stefan Lang
PhD student
University of Calgary
Funded by the Lanka Charitable Foundation
Graduate Student Award
$30,000 over 2 years

At the University of Calgary, Dr. Stefan Lang, a neurosurgical resident and PhD candidate, is using transcranial magnetic stimulation to deliver bursts of electrical pulses to stimulate the frontal lobe of the brain in people with Parkinson’s disease who have mild cognitive impairment. Lang hopes this non-invasive technique will trigger the brain’s plasticity, causing it to rewire the networks involved in judgment, memory and decision-making.


Research Area: Clinical Fellowship
Determining the Impact of a Multi-Disciplinary Movement Disorder Clinic on Health Outcomes and Health Care Spending in Parkinson’s Disease
Dr. Anish Kanungo
Clinical Fellow Movement Disorders Neurology
University of Manitoba
Funded by Parkinson Society British Columbia
Clinical Movement Disorders Fellowship
$50,000 over 1 year

Conventional wisdom suggests that treating people with Parkinson’s disease in a movement disorders clinic staffed by an inter-disciplinary team will produce better health outcomes and reduce costs. At the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s Movement Disorder Clinic, Dr. Anish Kanungo, a neurologist and clinical fellow, will study the data to see if there is actually an improvement in health outcomes, and a reduction in hospital, and long-term care admissions for people treated at the clinic.


Research Area: Causes
Establishing a new link between brain and body
Simon Wing
Professor
McGill University
Porridge for Parkinson’s (Toronto) Pilot Project Grant
Pilot Project Grant
$45,000 over 2 year

A gene previously associated with muscle wasting has recently been revealed as a possible key player in the way Parkinson’s disease spreads itself through the brain. Simon Wing, a professor in McGill University’s Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, is examining the possibility that this gene could be a critical target for therapies to treat the progress of this condition by simply halting this spread.


Research Area: Causes
Understanding where to hit Parkinson’s disease
Dr. Ying Wang
McGill University
Basic Research Fellowship
$100,000 over 2 years

Using specially designed, genetically altered mice, McGill University postdoctoral researcher Ying Wang is demonstrating what type of age-dependent decline of nerve cell function could cause Parkinson’s disease. By inducing Parkinson’s and then using a drug to reverse the disease in her mouse model, she hopes to uncover whether and to what extent the damaged nerve cells can regain lost function and recover.