NEW YORK (November 19, 2020) -- The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF) has announced William Dauer, MD, director of the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute and professor of neurology and neuroscience at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, as the recipient of the sixth 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. Todd Sherer, PhD, MJFF CEO, and a longtime patient of Dauer’s Elyse Weinbaum presented the prize at the Foundation’s virtual Research Roundtable event on November 17, 2020.
“Dr. Dauer has spearheaded groundbreaking research that explores the underlying causes, development and treatment of dystonia,” said Bonnie Strauss, who in 1995 founded The Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia & Parkinson Foundation, which launched a collaborative research alliance with MJFF in 2015. “We created the research prize for this purpose — to speed discoveries and testing of new therapies to help people living with this condition.” Ms. Strauss, who currently sits on MJFF's Board of Directors, was diagnosed with dystonia in 1984.
Dauer led a group of researchers that in 2014 developed a pre-clinical model that mimics dystonia, a movement disorder and symptom of Parkinson’s characterized by painful, prolonged muscle contractions that result in abnormal movements and postures.
In some cases of dystonia, a mutation in the DYT1 gene causes brain cells to make a less active form of a protein called torsinA. Dauer created the dystonia model by weakening torsinA function, which led to the death of certain brain cells that control movement. This important tool has allowed scientists to better explore the biology of dystonia’s onset and progression and test the impact of therapies.
The award is accompanied by an unrestricted grant of $100,000 to support a research effort.
“I am incredibly honored to receive the Bachmann-Strauss Prize,” said Dauer. “The award may recognize the work we have done this far, but the funds will enable further investigation of the pathology underlying dystonia and push forward the development of new treatments.”
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 $1 billion 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