David G. Standaert, M.D., Ph.D., a faculty member at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has been awarded a major grant to help fund his research into dystonia — a movement disorder that exists both on its own and as a common symptom of Parkinson’s disease.
Standaert will share the $100,000 award with Antonio Pisani, M.D., Ph.D., who is on the faculty of the University of Rome Tor Vergata in Italy. The two frequently collaborate on research.
The Bachmann-Strauss Prize for Excellence in Dystonia Research, which is awarded by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, was presented over the weekend in New York City by Fox and Todd Sherer, Ph.D., CEO of the Foundation.
“Drs. Pisani and Standaert have made significant strides in plotting the cellular dysfunction that leads to dystonia,” said Bonnie Strauss, who created the Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia & Parkinson Foundation in 1995 and collaborated with MJFF in 2015.
“This team has laid the groundwork for development and testing of new therapies to help those living with dystonia,” she added.
Pisani and Standaert have published nine articles together since 2006. Their work examines the role and relationship of neurotransmitter activity in dystonia. They have profiled an imbalance in dopamine and acetylcholine activity in a type of dystonia with onset typically in adolescence.
Both researchers are also practicing clinicians.
“There is a tremendous need for more research in this field, and more researchers,” said Standaert. “I hope this recognition from Bachmann-Straus and MJFF will demonstrate to young investigators that there is support and encouragement for research in dystonia and will attract more of them to this field.”
The Bachmann-Strauss Prize is awarded annually to a researcher who has made profound contributions to dystonia research. The Michael J. Fox Foundation is the world’s largest nonprofit funder of Parkinson’s research.