The 2021-2023 cycle funds projects seeking to impact diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, quality of life, and biomarker development. For instance, Dr. Kevin Yen, from the University of Alberta, is studying the use of advanced imaging techniques to identify gait impairment, sometimes the most disabling symptom of Parkinson’s, as early identification and intervention are critical to improving quality of life. Ms. Pooja Ghandi, from the University of Toronto, is investigating the efficacy of the effortful swallow maneuver with the aim of improving swallowing safety in people living with Parkinson’s. Finally, Ms. Heidi Riek, from Queen’s University, is studying the development of an eye-tracking tool to diagnose and treat Parkinson’s disease, as the parts of the brain that control eye movement overlap with those affected by the disease.

Projects

Parkinson Canada and its partners are proud to support 17 new fellowships and student awards for the 2021-2023 research cycle, including:

  • 10 Graduate Student Awards
  • 5 Basic Research Fellowships
  • 1 Clinical Movement Disorders Fellowship
  • 1 Clinical Research Fellowship

Integrating neurotransmitter receptors and multi-modal brain imaging to improve treatment selection in Parkinson’s disease


Mr. Ahmed Khan
McGill University
Funded in Partnership with Québec Parkinson Network
Graduate Student Award
$20,000 over 2 years
Complications

Details coming soon

Mitochondrial dysfunction and vulnerability to oxidative stress in induced dopaminergic neurons derived from idiopathic Parkinson’s disease patients


Ms. Emilie Legault
University of Montreal
Funded in Partnership with Fonds de Recherche du Québec -Santé
Graduate Student Award
$10,000 over 2 years
Causes

Details coming soon

Addressing Missing Heritability in Synucleinopathies using Bioinformatic Approaches


Mr. Eric Yu
McGill University
Funded in Partnership with Québec Parkinson Network
Graduate Student Award
$20,000 over 2 years
Causes

Details coming soon

The effects of exercise modality on sleep quality and architecture in people with Parkinson’s Disease


Mr. Jacopo Cristini
McGill University
Funded in Partnership with Québec Parkinson Network
Graduate Student Award
$20,000 over 2 years
Treatment of Parkinson's

Details coming soon

The power of social connection


Esztella Vezer
PhD Student, Ryerson University-Yeate's School of Graduate Studies
Funded in Partnership with Parkinson Society of British Columbia
Graduate Student Award
$20,000 over 2 years
Quality of Life

People with severe symptoms from Parkinson’s may experience a high quality of life. At Toronto’s Ryerson University-Yeates School of Graduate Studies, Esztella Vezer, a PhD student, investigates whether social participation and social support affect the way people with severe Parkinson’s perceive their quality of life. Using questionnaires, Vezer will ask people to recount their social activities, describe their supports, and rank their quality of life. Her findings could inform the design of future programs and supports.

Read more

Eye tracking as a source of behavioural biomarkers for Parkinson’s disease


Heidi Riek
Queens University
Funded in Partnership with Parkinson Society of British Columbia
Graduate Student Award
$20,000 over 2 years
Biomarkers

Details coming soon

Exploring the efficacy of the Effortful Swallow maneuver for improving swallowing safety and efficiency in people with Parkinson Disease


Ms. Pooja Gandhi (Enhancing Wellness)
University Health Network
Funded in Partnership with Parkinson Society of British Columbia
Graduate Student Award
$20,000 over 2 years
Treatment of Parkinson's

Details coming soon

Sequencing the entire genome of REM sleep behavior and progression to neurodegenerative diseases


Mr. Prabhjyot Saini
McGill University
Funded in Partnership with Québec Parkinson Network
Graduate Student Award
$10,000 over 2 years
Causes

Details coming soon

Integrating gene expression and multimodal brain imaging for identifying and comparing therapeutic needs in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases


Mr. Quadri Adewale
McGill University
Funded in Partnership with Fonds de Recherche du Québec- Santé
Graduate Student Award
$10,000 over 2 years
Biomarkers

Details coming soon

Longitudinal changes in the neurovascular response in a rat model of L-DOPA induced Dyskinesia


Mr. Sam Booth
University of Manitoba
Graduate Student Award
$20,000 over 2 years
Complications

Details coming soon

Cerebellar transcranial ultrasound stimulation to alleviate freezing of gait in Parkinson’s disease


Dr. Jean-Francois Nankoo
University Health Network (Toronto, ON)
Funded in Partnership with Parkinson Society of British Columbia
$100,000 over 2 years
Treatment of Parkinson's

Details coming soon

Unblocking barriers to gene therapy


Dallan McMahon
Postdoctoral Fellow, Sunnybrook Research Institute
Funded in Partnership with Parkinson Society of British Columbia
$80,000 over 2 years
Treatment of Parkinson's

Delivering treatment directly to the areas of the brain that Parkinson's affects has so far proven difficult, in part because of blockage created by the blood-brain barrier. At Toronto's Sunnybrook Research Institute, neuroscientist Dallan McMahon uses microbubbles and ultrasound equipment to open the blood-brain barrier in mouse models. Once that barrier is open, substances that facilitate gene therapy can flow to the affected areas of the brain. The particular gene therapy being tested would trigger the transformation of support cells into new dopamine-producing brain cells.

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Understanding the molecular basis of α-synuclein strain interference


Dr. Surabi Mehra
University of Toronto (Toronto, ON)
Basic Research Fellowship
$80,000 over 2 years
Causes

Details coming soon

Mapping Brain Region-Specific CHCHD2 Protein Assemblies and Uncovering its Variant Contribution to Parkinson’s Disease


Dr. Mohamed Moutaoufik
University of Regina
Basic Research Fellowship
$100,000 over 2 years
Causes

Details coming soon

Integrative screens to uncover novel regulators of SNCA expression in the context of Parkinson’s disease pathogenesis


Dr. Konrad Ricke
University of Ottawa
$100,000 over 2 years
Causes

Details coming soon

Predicting gait problems


Dr. Kevin Yen
Movement Disorder Fellow, University of Alberta
Funded in Partnership with Parkinson Society of British Columbia
Clinical Movement Disorders Fellowship
$50,000 over 1 year
Clinical Movement Disorder Fellowship

Difficulty walking is among the most debilitating features of Parkinson's. At the University of Alberta, Dr. Kevin Yen, a neurologist, uses advanced MRI imaging to identify the areas of the brain linked to gait difficulties in people with Parkinson's. He hopes to develop a biological marker to predict which individuals will develop trouble walking, so clinicians can put supports in place for them earlier, improving their quality of life. Yen will also spend his fellowship year learning more about surgical options and other treatments for people with Parkinson's.

Read more

Clinical and neuroimaging correlation in PD-MCI


Dr. Biniyam Alemayehu Ayele
University Health Network (Toronto)
Funded in Partnership with Parkinson Society of British Columbia
Clinical Research Fellowship
$100,000 over 2 years
Clinical fellowship

Details coming soon