Current Research Projects


Identifying biomarkers to detect the early stages of Parkinson’s allows people to start treatments before significant nerve cell loss occurs and motor symptoms, such as resting tremors, appear. Biomarkers could also identify people at risk of developing Parkinson’s, improve diagnosis, measure disease progression and determine which treatment will work best. This is a vital and promising area of research.

2014-2016 Projects | 2013-2015 Projects

Causes of Parkinson’s

Movement is 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.

We fund research into the chemical or genetic triggers that start the cell death process in dopamine neurons. Understanding this sequence of events will enable scientists to develop treatments to stop or prevent the loss of dopamine-producing cells. This could lead to a cure for the disease.

2014-2016 Projects | 2013-2015 Projects

Cognitive Impairment and Parkinson’s

Many people with Parkinson’s experience cognitive changes as part of the disease progression including difficulty paying attention, problems finding words, slowness in thinking, difficulty retrieving information, and problems with planning, anticipating consequences and making decisions. Exploring and understanding how these cognitive deficits affect the Parkinson brain can lead to specialized treatments for managing and preventing these symptoms.

2014-2016 Projects | 2013-2015 Projects

Complications of Parkinson’s

The familiar symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are tremors, loss of balance, and slowness of movement. But non-motor complications of Parkinson’s can also impact quality of life. These include depression, anxiety, trouble sleeping, difficulty swallowing, low blood pressure, urinary incontinence, sexual problems or cognitive changes.

The nature, severity and impact of symptoms vary with each person. Investigating motor and non-motor complications associated with Parkinson’s could lead to improved treatments and better quality of life.

2014-2016 Projects | 2013-2015 Projects

Quality of Life Research

Researchers from health professions such as nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech language pathology and social work are exploring the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s and their care partners. 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. Quality of life research can empower people with Parkinson’s and their families to live their lives to the fullest, despite the limitations of this disease.

2014-2016 Projects | 2013-2015 Projects


Resting tremors and muscle rigidity appear after many dopamine-producing cells in the brain have died. Scientists are searching for neuroprotective compounds that can prevent the brain cells from degenerating. Several substances such as caffeine, nicotine, and turmeric may have neuroprotective qualities. Further research could lead to the development of drug therapies that slow, stop and even prevent Parkinson’s disease. These could be given to people with early clinical signs of Parkinson’s or those known to be at genetic risk.

2014-2016 Projects | 2013-2015 Projects