NEW YORK (November 18, 2019) -- The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF) has announced Antonio Pisani, MD, PhD, associate professor of neurology at the University of Rome Tor Vergata in Italy, and David G. Standaert, MD, PhD, John N. Whitaker Professor and chairman of neurology at The University of Alabama at Birmingham, as the recipients of the fifth annual Bachmann-Strauss Prize for Excellence in Dystonia Research. The prize honors dystonia researchers for key scientific discoveries and provides incentive for the next generation of investigators to continue forging paths toward cures. Michael J. Fox and Todd Sherer, PhD, MJFF CEO, presented the prize to Pisani and Standaert at a Foundation event in New York City on November 16, 2019.
“Drs. Pisani and Standaert have made significant strides in plotting the cellular dysfunction that leads to dystonia," said Bonnie Strauss, who in 1995 founded The Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia & Parkinson Foundation, which launched a collaborative research alliance with MJFF in 2015. "This team has laid the groundwork for development and testing of new therapies to help those living with dystonia." Ms. Strauss, who currently sits on MJFF's Board of Directors, was diagnosed with dystonia in 1984.
Pisani and Standaert published their first paper together in 2006 and are now co-authors on nine articles detailing the pathology of dystonia, a movement disorder characterized by painful, prolonged muscle contractions that result in abnormal movements and postures. Dystonia is both a distinct movement disorder and a common symptom of Parkinson's disease. The collaborators’ 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 Pisani and Standaert are practicing clinicians as well, learning from their patients to inform their laboratory research and applying learnings from the bench at the bedside.
The award is accompanied by an unrestricted research grant of $100,000 to support a joint research effort. The researchers will use the funds to study several models of a genetic form of dystonia toward better understanding of the mutation’s effect.
“We are very honored to receive the prestigious Bachmann-Strauss Prize,” said Pisani. “It means we are working in the right direction for our findings to be recognized with such an award and that we can continue building knowledge toward new treatments and cures.”
“This work with Antonio is a very productive collaboration that has been an engine for discovery,” said Standaert. “There is a tremendous need for more research in this field, and more researchers. I hope this recognition from Bachmann-Strauss 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.”
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 $900 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.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation