Parkinson Society Canada

Parkinson Society Canada

December 01, 2010 11:09 ET

Helping People With Parkinson's Find the Right Words, One of Five Novel Research Awards Granted

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 1, 2010) - Parkinson Society Canada gave five Canadian researchers a boost in funding today to improve quality of life for people with Parkinson's through Positron Emission Tomography (PET), ultra sound imagery, connecting cognition to communication and exploring new purposes for existing drugs. 

At an event hosted by Parkinson Society Central and Northern Ontario in Toronto, donors and Parkinson SuperWalk participants celebrated their contributions to improving the lives of those living with this brain disease while seeking better understanding of the causes of Parkinson's.

Awards were presented to:
  • Dr. Nicola Ray, a post doctoral fellow at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health received The Lois Harper Basic Research Fellowship, a $100, 000 award to study impulsive behaviours, including pathological gambling, a side-effect of medications used to treat stiffness or tremor.
  • Dr. Isabelle Boileau, a clinical research scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, received a $90,000 New Investigator Award to study involuntary movement known as dyskinesias, one of the most common and disturbing side-effects of medication to treat Parkinson's disease.
  • Dr. Richard Walsh, a neurologist at Toronto Western Hospital, received a $50,000 Clinical Movement Disorder Fellowship to work with Parkinson's patients using ultrasound images to determine types of Parkinson's disease. 
  • Ms. Angela South, a PhD candidate in speech language pathology at the University of Western Ontario, received The Michael Kingdon Estate Graduate Student Award, a $30,000 award to look at the challenges people with Parkinson's experience due to cognitive changes and to determine how language problems affect their lives and relationships.

Also receiving a grant but not present were Dr. Michael Schlossmacher, a world renowned physician-scientist, and Dr. Julianna Tomlinson of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, who together received a $45,000 Pilot Project Grant to screen over 1300 drugs used in treating other diseases to see if they can be repositioned to treat Parkinson's. If they can, it might shorten the time needed for clinical trials and will bring drugs to market faster. Funds for this grant were raised at Porridge for Parkinson's, a biannual event dedicated to raising money to find a cure for Parkinson's disease, in Toronto in 2009.

Funding for researchers is made possible through Parkinson Society Canada's largest fundraising event, Parkinson SuperWalk, held each September. "It is gratifying to see new hope and new discoveries in Parkinson's coming from monies raised by Torontonians," says Debbie Davis, CEO of Parkinson Society Central & Northern Ontario, "One thousand participants raised $323,500. That's 323,500 steps toward a better life for people with Parkinson's."

Also recognized at the celebratory event was Toronto resident Jim Vlahos, who completed the Athens Classic Marathon in October, raising $12,760 in memory of his late father-in-law. "I had many reasons for running this marathon but the most important one was to raise money for Parkinson's," says Jim.

This year, Parkinson Society Canada will contribute $1.3 million to over 30 research and pilot grants, new investigator awards, basic research and clinical fellowships, graduate student and psychosocial awards to encourage innovative ideas and foster emerging Canadian scientists who choose careers that help further understand Parkinson's disease.

Currently there is no cure for Parkinson's disease. Movement is normally controlled by dopamine, a chemical that carries signals between the nerves in the brain. When cells that normally produce dopamine die, the symptoms of Parkinson's appear. 

Since 1965, Parkinson Society Canada and Parkinson Society Central & Northern Ontario, one of 11 regional partners, have been supporting Canadians living with Parkinson's providing education, support, advocacy and funding for research. There are 235 chapters and support groups in Canada.

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