NEW YORK (November 13, 2017) -- The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF) announced Andres Lozano, MD, PhD, professor of neurosurgery at the University of Toronto and Toronto Western Hospital, and a founding member of the Foundation's Scientific Advisory Board, as the recipient of the third annual Bachmann-Strauss Prize for Excellence in Dystonia Research. The prize honors dystonia researchers for key scientific discoveries and incentivizes the next generation of investigators to continue forging paths toward cures. Michael J. Fox and Todd Sherer, PhD, CEO of The Michael J. Fox Foundation, presented the prize to Lozano at a Foundation event in New York City on November 11, 2017.
"Dr. Lozano has been at the forefront of developing deep brain stimulation as a transformative treatment for dystonia that has changed the trajectory of countless patients' lives," said Bonnie Strauss, who in 1995 founded The Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia & Parkinson Foundation, which launched a collaborative research alliance with MJFF in 2015. "It is our privilege to honor him for his work leading the field toward fundamental discoveries that will increase understanding of dystonia and pave the way toward the next generation of therapies." Ms. Strauss was diagnosed with dystonia in 1984.
Lozano was selected in recognition of his pioneering work in deep brain stimulation (DBS), including its use to treat dystonia, a movement disorder characterized by painful, prolonged muscle contractions that result in abnormal movements and postures. Dystonia is both a movement disorder in its own right and a common symptom of Parkinson's disease. The prize committee was chaired by Susan Bressman, MD, Mirken Chair and professor of neurology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and included Ms. Strauss and experts in neuroscience research.
Sometimes compared to pacemakers in cardiovascular disease, DBS is a surgical procedure in which thin wires called electrodes are placed into one or both sides of the brain in specific areas and deliver electrical pulses to brain cells to decrease symptoms. DBS is used to treat an array of brain disorders in addition to dystonia, including Parkinson's disease.
The Bachmann-Strauss Prize for Excellence in Dystonia Research is accompanied by an unrestricted research grant of $100,000. Lozano plans to apply these funds to investigations aiming to refine and advance the use of DBS treatment for dystonia. Currently, the response to DBS as a treatment for dystonia is inconsistent from person to person, with some patients deriving greater benefit than others. Lozano and team will work to reduce this variability and optimize DBS by researching optimal targets in the brain as well as best device/electrical pulse settings for people with dystonia.
Lozano has worked to understand the brain's normal electrical activity and how it changes in dystonia and Parkinson's. This has fueled his research into the development of targeted DBS techniques and approaches to treat both.
"I'm humbled and grateful to receive the Bachmann-Strauss Prize," said Dr. Lozano. "It's the most prestigious award that signals people have made a difference in dystonia and are making important inroads into the diagnosis and development of novel treatments for the disease."
Read more about the Bachmann-Strauss Prize for Excellence in Dystonia Research and the contributions of its recipients on the MJFF website.
About the Bachmann-Strauss Prize for Excellence in Dystonia Research
The Bachmann-Strauss Prize for Excellence in Dystonia Research was established in September 2014 with a leadership commitment from the Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia and Parkinson Foundation (BSDPF). The alliance between MJFF and BSDPF builds on a 10-year working relationship between the foundations. This major dystonia research prize broadens public awareness and recognizes key scientific discoveries in dystonia. The Prize is awarded annually to a researcher who has made profound contributions to dystonia research and is accompanied by an unrestricted research grant of $100,000 to support further research in the awardee's laboratory.
About The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research
As the world's largest nonprofit funder of Parkinson's research, The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to accelerating a cure for Parkinson's disease and improved therapies for those living with the condition today. The Foundation pursues its goals through an aggressively funded, highly targeted research program coupled with active global engagement of scientists, Parkinson's patients, business leaders, clinical trial participants, donors and volunteers. In addition to funding more than $750 million in research to date, the Foundation has fundamentally altered the trajectory of progress toward a cure. Operating at the hub of worldwide Parkinson's research, the Foundation forges groundbreaking collaborations with industry leaders, academic scientists and government research funders; increases the flow of participants into Parkinson's disease clinical trials with its online tool, Fox Trial Finder; promotes Parkinson's awareness through high-profile advocacy, events and outreach; and coordinates the grassroots involvement of thousands of Team Fox members around the world.