With the recent announcement of its 2015-2017 funded research grants and awards, Parkinson Society Canada’s (PSC) investment in its National Research Program (NRP) surpassed the $25 million mark. The program has come a long way since awarding the first research grant in 1981 of $150,000 to Dr. Clement Young of Toronto Western Hospital/University of Toronto. Since then, the NRP has funded 483 research grants and awards to Canadian researchers.
Parkinson Society Canada and its network of partners have great expectations for the 15 new grant, fellowship and student awards funded to advance our knowledge of Parkinson’s, a complex brain disease. One of the most promising of this year’s recipients is Louis-Éric Trudeau, a professor at the University of Montreal, who received a one-year pilot project grant of $44,250.
Neuroscientist Trudeau has identified a critical difference in the structure of brain cells. He found that dopamine-producing cells in the substantia nigra are much larger and consume much more energy than other cells. Trudeau thinks that this may be why they are more vulnerable than other cells to whatever process is killing the neurons in Parkinson’s disease.
“Like a motor constantly running at high speed, these neurons need to produce an incredible amount of energy to function. They appear to exhaust themselves and die prematurely,” said Trudeau. “For all major diseases of the brain, new therapies come after we know why the cells start to die,” Trudeau says.
Parkinson Society Canada is the largest non-government funder of Parkinson’s research in Canada; investing in science that explores most aspects of the disease, including: causes, complications, cognitive impairment, biomarkers, neuroprotection and quality of life.
We are currently funding 26 projects. Including 11 research awards in their second year, and the 15 new projects, the National Research Program is currently committed to investing $1,264,079. These latest awards represent a total of $924,090 committed to support new research projects* in Canada during the next two years as follows:
- 5 Pilot Project Grants
- 2 New Investigator Awards
- 4 Basic Research Fellowships
- 1 Clinical Movement Disorders Fellowship
- 3 Graduate Student Awards
Parkinson Society Canada’s National Research Program invests in:
- High-quality, innovative Canadian research by established and promising investigators.
- Discovery-stage research where investigators test new theories and pursue promising new leads.
- Researchers at the beginning of their careers in order to foster the next generation of Parkinson’s scientists.
- Novel research to build greater capacity, promote creativity and engage more researchers.