Biomarkers

The simple skin biopsy that could detect Parkinson’s disease
Dr. Lili-Naz Hazrati
, University of Toronto
Pilot Project Grant: 1 yr. $44,818

Dr. Lili-Naz Hazrati is developing a simple skin biopsy to detect clumps of a protein called alpha-synuclein that is abnormally shaped, or misfolded, in people with Parkinson’s disease.


A simple skin test that could diagnose Parkinson’s disease
Dr. Drew Kern, 
University of Toronto
Clinical Movement Disorders Fellowship: 1 yr. $50,000

During his fellowship at Toronto Western Hospital’s Movement Disorders Program, Dr. Drew Kern, will treat patients and research skin biopsy as a biomarker that could diagnose Parkinson’s disease.


Drawing a map for delicate surgery
Dr. Abbas Sadikot, 
McGill University
Porridge for Parkinson’s (Toronto) Pilot Project Grant: 1 yr. $44,722

Dr. Abbas Sadikot, a professor with the Montreal Neurological Institute, is compiling a detailed “atlas” to map the intricate brain structures affected by Parkinson’s disease.


Scanning for the inflammation that may swell non-motor symptoms in the brain
Dr. Antonio Strafella, 
University of Toronto
Pilot Project Grant: 1 yr. $45,000

Dr. Anthony Strafella is using Positron Emission Tomography, or PET scans, to study the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease and to see what role inflammation may play in whether they develop non-motor symptoms.


Causes

Exploring the different faces of a central Parkinson’s disease protein
Martin Duennwald, 
University of Western Ontario
Pilot Project Grant (Funded by Quebec Research Fund on Parkinson): 1 yr. $45,000

University of Western Ontario biologist Martin Duennwald is studying a protein that normally protects us from the cellular degradation associated with Parkinson’s disease.


Stopping Parkinson’s disease, cell by cell
Karl Grenier, 
McGill University
Porridge for Parkinson’s (Toronto) Graduate Student Award: 2 yrs. $30,000

Doctoral student Karl Grenier has been studying two proteins that are crucial to helping our body’s cells eliminate damaged components.


Investigating parkin’s role in cell death
Dr. Tohru Kitada, 
University of Ottawa
New Investigator Award: 2 yrs. $90,000

At the University of Ottawa, Dr. Tohru Kitada is exploring the role of the gene parkin in modifying mitochondria, the energy-producing and stress-generating portion of cells.


Understanding the recycling process within cells
Paul Marcogliese, 
University of Ottawa
Graduate Student Award: 2 yrs. $30,000

Doctoral candidate Paul Marcogliese is testing the interaction of a gene called LRRK2 and other genes and proteins, to try to determine LRRK2’s function within a cell.


Appealing to Goldilocks
David Park, 
University of Ottawa
Pilot Project Grant: 1 yr. $45,000

“Too much is not good, and too little is not good. It has to be just right, which is what makes this research so challenging,” says Park who is investigating autophagy, the ongoing disposal or recycling of waste products from within the body’s cells.


Unblocking dopamine in the brain
Dr. Ali Salahpour, 
University of Toronto
Pedaling for Parkinson’s New Investigator Award: 2 yrs. $89,340

Ali Salahpour hopes one of the compounds he’s investigating will enhance the effects of the dopamine that remains in the brains of people with Parkinson’s.


Seeking the way to revive a vital molecule
Matthew Tang, 
McGill University
Basic Research Fellowship: 2 yrs. $80,000

Matthew Tang is studying ways of restoring the function of a critical protein responsible for managing how the body’s cells eliminate some waste products.


Studying the secrets of stressed cells
Nicolas Giguère, 
Université de Montréal
Graduate Student Award: 2 yrs. $30,000

Doctoral student Nicolas Giguère is investigating some of the hardest-working cells in the substantia nigra part of the brain, which may be vulnerable to the development of Parkinson’s disease.


Pruning the molecular roots of Parkinson’s disease
Pascale Legault, Université de Montréal
Pilot Project Grant (Funded by Quebec Research Fund on Parkinson) : 1 yr. $45,000

Biochemist Pascale Legault studies the role of microRNAs, key molecules that control significant portions of the body’s functions. Two of these microRNAs are disrupted in Parkinson’s disease.


Helping hard-working cells cope
Consiglia Pacelli, 
Université de Montréal
Basic Research Fellowship: 2yrs. $100,000

Post-doctoral fellow Consiglia Pacelli studies mitochondria, the source of biochemical energy found in all brain cells, including a special class of cells responsible for managing dopamine.


Complications

Freezing, falling, and cognitive impairment
Julie Nantel, 
University of Ottawa
New Investigator Award: 2 yrs. $90,000

People with Parkinson’s disease who have unstable posture and an unsteady gait may also suddenly freeze in place, causing them to fall. Nantel will explore the links between the gait issues, cognitive impairments and visual processing.


Quality of Life

Helping patients prepare for freedom of movement
Jean-Francois Daneault, 
McGill University
In memory of Delphine Martin Graduate Student Award: 2 yrs. $30,000

Doctoral student Jean-Francois Daneault suggests a program of exercise or physiotherapy before deep brain stimulation surgery could lead to a higher quality of life afterward.


Shall we dance? Unlocking the mysteries of movement
Joseph DeSouza, 
York University
Psychosocial Pilot Project Grant: 1yr. $44,999

Neuroscientist Joseph DeSouza scans the brains of people with PD who are learning to dance. Dancing not only helps them overcome their stiffness and inertia, it also activates regions of the brain outside the basal ganglia.


Risk factors for depression and apathy in Parkinson’s disease
Maxime Doiron, 
Laval University
Psychosocial Doctoral Award: 3 yrs. $105,000

“What I want to do is study the impact of some environmental and medical factors on the development of non-motor symptoms, such as psychological or psychiatric symptoms,” says Maxime Doiron.


Follow the bouncing ball to a better brain
Jocelyn Faubert, 
Université de Montréal
Pilot project grant: 1 yr. $45,000

Neuroscientist Jocelyn Faubert has developed a new virtual reality technology that is helping to improve the concentration, visual processing and attention capacity of many subjects. He’s now working with people with Parkinson’s disease.


Improving speech: movement made audible
Yana Yunusova, 
University of Toronto
Psychosocial Pilot Project Grant: 1 yr. $45,000

Speech language pathologist Yana Yunusova is working with computer engineers to develop interactive games that will help people with Parkinson’s disease improve the clarity of their speech.


Neuroprotection

The power of a cup of Joe (or two) to prevent or treat Parkinson’s
Dr. Julius Anang, 
McGill University
Clinical Research Fellowship: 2 yrs. $100,000

“Could caffeine slow down or stop the progression of Parkinson’s disease? Is there some neuro-protective effect? We are excited to see how things go,” says Dr. Anang about his current clinical trial.


An apple a day really may keep Parkinson’s away
George S. Robertson
, Dalhousie University
Pilot project grant: 1 yr. $45,000

Pharmacologist George S. Robertson believes something as simple as combining natural chemicals found in the peel of fruits and vegetables holds great promise for treating Parkinson’s disease.