APDA Meets to Discuss Grants, Diversity in Parkinson’s Research, Support, and Care

APDA Grant Research

The American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) recently hosted two groups of experts who assessed scientific projects vying for funding, and addressed diversity issues in Parkinson’s disease research and care.

The organization met with its scientific advisory board (SAB) to decide which grant projects it will fund for the 2019-2020 academic year. Grants are based on overall significance and field impact, appropriateness of the project’s chief investigator and scientific environment, and feasibility of the project’s proposed budget and end date. Funding decisions will be announced in August.

The APDA also hosted its first-ever Diversity in Parkinson’s Research Conference, which focused on needs surrounding the disease in diverse and under-served communities. Attendees included researchers investigating Parkinson’s in ethnic and minority populations, and clinicians who treat such patients.

Panel discussions included an overview of APDA diversity initiatives, research about biomarkers in diverse populations, disparities in Parkinson’s clinical trial enrollment, and what the field of hypertension can teach Parkinson’s investigators about access to diverse communities.

Currently, most Parkinson’s research focuses on relatively older white men, the APDA said. The organization wants to expand investigations to include more patients of varying ages, genders, races and ethnicities. It also wants more access among these groups for care, programs and services.

”APDA’s mission is to help everyone impacted by Parkinson’s disease live life to the fullest, and we mean everyone,” Leslie A. Chambers, APDA president and CEO, said in a press release.

The organization plans to establish an annual grant to support research focused on closing diversity gaps. For now, it offers an annual $50,000 post-doctoral fellowship, and multiple $75,000 research grants. The three-year $300,000 George C. Cotzias Fellowship supports early-career physician-scientists. In addition, the APDA awards its Centers for Advanced Research $100,000 each year to support PD investigations. (Visit this site for more information on APDA-funded research.)

”It’s so exciting to see the fascinating ideas outlined in the grant submissions,” said Rebecca Gilbert, MD, PhD, APDA vice president and chief scientific officer, of the current crop of proposals. “Proposed research projects included everything from ways of detecting a diagnosis of PD in the blood, to exploring ways that telemedicine can improve the lives of patients with PD. The SAB certainly had their work cut out for them and made some tough choices,” she said.

In addition to deciding who gets new grants, the SAB receives updates during annual meetings about previously funded research. During the May 16 meeting, for example, members were apprised of the latest research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where scientists are focused on advances in the role of brain inflammation in Parkinson’s development and progression. The SAB also heard from Washington University School of Medicine researchers studying imaging biomarkers for Parkinson’s.

David Standaert, a leading Parkinson’s researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, also is the SAB’s chairman. He called the Diversity in Research Conference a “fantastic” first step toward finding answers.

”Together, I think we can do great things to make both our research and services more inclusive and accessible,” he said.

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APDA Awards More Than $1.7 Million to Parkinson’s Disease Researchers

APDA grants

Hoping to lure new researchers to the Parkinson’s disease field and to support others’ new and innovative ideas, the American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) has awarded more than $1.7 million in fellowships, research grants, and funding for APDA Centers for Advanced Research.

 The awards include a highly competitive George C. Cotzias Fellowship, two post-doctoral fellowships, 11 research grants, and eight APDA Centers for Advanced Research. The centers support front-line research into the cause, treatment, and eventual cure of Parkinson’s, according to a press release.

Applications are reviewed annually by the APDA’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). During that meeting, board members also decide the kind of research they want to invest in that year.

Among other things, the association’s support this year will give insight into the disease’s new biomarkers, and examine how and why Parkinson’s affects genders and some ethnic groups differently, said Rebecca Gilbert, MD, PhD, APDA’s vice president and chief scientific officer.

“APDA is funding an exciting array of projects this year,” she said.

In the past, research projects have produced important pilot data, according to the release, resulting in lucrative research grants from the National Institutes of Health and other funding entities.

“It is vital to accelerate research and support translational ideas that can lead to new treatments for those people living with [Parkinson’s disease],” said David G. Standaert, MD, PhD, John N. Whitaker professor and chair of neurology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham‘s School of Medicine, and SAB chairman. “APDA’s SAB is focused on investing in the best science to support that important mission.”

This year’s George C. Cotzias Fellowship went to emerging physician-scientist Aasef Shaikh, PhD, of the Cleveland VA Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University. The three-year award is designed to fund a long-term Parkinson’s project.

Shaikh’s project is aimed at learning how Parkinson’s affects the part of the brain that maintains gait and balance.

Learn more about the awardees and browse all APDA-funded research here. Researchers and physicians interested in applying for APDA funding can visit here for 2019-2020 opportunities.

APDA’s Centers for Advanced Research fund expansive Parkinson’s research programs. These programs include novice researchers, fellowship and early-stage discovery programs, and advanced clinical translation. Through a rigorous application process, two new centers were chosen this year.

 “The work being done as a result of the grants in this new funding cycle will have an incredible impact on the world of [Parkinson’s disease],” said Leslie A. Chambers, APDA’s president and CEO.

In its 57-year history, APDA has raised more than $177 million to provide patient services, increase public awareness of Parkinson’s, support its research, and ultimately end the disease.

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Source: Parkinson's News Today

ADPA’s ‘Look Closer’ Campaign Captures Full Lives of Parkinson’s Patients

awareness campaign

The American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) launched a series of public service announcements via television stations and social media channels to promote a richer understanding of Parkinson’s disease and how it affects and inspires those touched by it.

Look Closer, the centerpiece the group’s monthlong campaign that coincides with Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month, specifically encourages viewers to look beyond the disease and become aware of the “full lives” both patients and caregivers enjoy. TV announcements appear in both English and Spanish.

The announcement, filmed in New York City, touches on the life stories of eight people and was directed by the documentary filmmaker Matthew Makar, the founder of Elementary Films. Background music was composed by Nami Melumad, who donated the work.

“Most people take PD at face value, APDA writes in a press release, “associating it only with the more commonly-known physical symptoms such as tremors and slow movements. But there is more than meets the eye … invisible symptoms including sleeplessness, loss of smell, depression and more. … APDA is urging people to look closer to see the people behind the disease, to see the unshakeable spirit and determination that it takes to live life to the fullest with PD.

Patients profiled include Allison Toepperwein, a single mother from Texas who was diagnosed at age 37 and went on  to be a contestant on the TV show “American Ninja Warrior.”

Announcements running nationwide since April 1 include 60-, 30- and 20-second TV spots, and can be viewed on social channels like YouTube. All spots are also  on the APDA’s website, and people are encouraged to view and share them to learn more about the disease and show  support for the organization and its work.

“The eight people featured in the PSA are just a small sampling of the amazing people we meet every day who are tackling their PD journey with optimism and resolve,” Leslie A. Chambers, APDA’s president and chief executive officer, said in the release. “From extreme athletes diagnosed in their 30’s, to a bridge-playing senior who’s been living with PD for seven years, to a rodeo champion diagnosed just over a year ago, we feel that it’s so important to show the public that people with PD are living full and fruitful lives.”

The campaign also features a video library showcasing the people featured in the spots, and inspirational “real life” stories submitted by the public. The videos will be available throughout the year.

“Our efforts are two-fold,” Chambers said. “In addition to educating people about the disease and offering hope and inspiration via the people profiled in the PSA [public service announcement] and online, it’s incredibly important that people understand that APDA is here to help every step of the way. We provide the support, education, programs, and services people need to live their best lives.”

Founded in 1961, APDA is one of the largest grassroots networks dedicated to fighting Parkinson’s disease. To date, APDA has raised and invested more than $170 million in patient services and educational programs, elevating public awareness and supporting research into Parkinson’s disease and its potential treatments.

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Source: Parkinson's News Today