Research Report Updates

In memory of Delphine Martin Graduate Student Award
Mr. Jean-Francois Daneault, McGill University
Graduate Student Award – $30,000 over 2 years

Project title: Subthalamic deep brain stimulation in Parkinson’s disease: Effect on the mobility of patients and their caregiver

This funding allowed Dr. Daneault to complete his PhD studies on the impact of subthalamic deep brain stimulation on mobility in PD patients. The results of this study (published in Movement Disorder) along with the results of another study (published in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease) have direct clinical implications for the management of patients with PD scheduled for deep brain stimulation.

Dr. Jean-Francois Daneault is currently pursuing a postdoctoral fellowship from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, at Harvard Medical School where he will be developing new techniques and methods for the detection and management of PD.

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Porridge for Parkinson’s (Toronto) Graduate Student Award
Mr. Karl Grenier, McGill University
Graduate Student Award – $30,000 over 2 years

Project title: The interaction between PINK1 and the Mitochondrial Processing Peptidase: Defining the role of Mitochondrial import defects in Parkinson’s Disease

This funding allowed Dr. Grenier to complete his PhD studies on neurodegeneration mechanisms in PD. Specifically, he helped identify the nature of the protein that helps stabilize PINK1, and his results provided a novel view on how PINK1 is imported into the mitochondria. These novel results give us essential information on how the loss-of function of PINK1 might lead to neuronal death by knowing where PINK1 is and what important role it plays in the cell. The progress achieved has been substantial and will drive novel ideas of how PINK1 contributes to mitochondrial quality control, and adds essential information to a pathway that is now a primary suspect in causing Parkinson’s disease.

Dr. Karl Grenier is continuing his research at the Fon lab while he studies medicine at McGill University.

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Porridge for Parkinson’s (Toronto) Graduate Student Award
Ms. Sarah Coakeley, University of Toronto (CAMH)

Positron Emission Tomography Imaging of Pathological Tau in Parkinsonisms

Master’s student Sarah Coakeley is using medical imaging technology to scan the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease and compare them to brain images of people who are healthy and those who have two rare disorders, multiple system atrophy and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). Using radioactive dye that binds to a protein that accumulates in the brain cells of people with these diseases, she hopes to develop a diagnostic test for PSP.

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Dr. Robert Lorne Alexander Graduate Student Award
Ms. Chelsie Kadgien, University of British Columbia

Vacuolar protein sorting 35 (VPS35) neurobiology: Novel retromer cargo trafficking, synapse maintenance, and plasticity in the context of Parkinson’s disease mutations.

PhD student Chelsie Kadgien is zeroing in on the function of a particular gene that, when mutated, is linked to late-onset Parkinson’s disease. Kadgien investigates VPS35 to see if its role in transporting proteins that help brain cells communicate could eventually become the target for a drug that could disrupt or repair the problems that damaged forms of the gene cause

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Porridge for Parkinson’s (Toronto) Basic Research Fellowship Award
Dr. Natasha Radhu, University of Toronto (CAMH)

Interactions between motor cortical inhibitory and excitatory circuits in Parkinson’s disease using transcranial magnetic stimulation

Postdoctoral fellow Dr. Radhu uses Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) to study the brain’s excitatory and inhibitory circuits. She is investigating whether an imbalance in the circuits in the motor cortex, the section of the brain that governs movement, leaves people with Parkinson’s disease unable to calm a barrage of signals to the area of the brain that directs movement. If she can demonstrate this imbalance, she hopes her research will lead to a diagnostic tool and a way to see if medication used to treat Parkinson’s is effective.