HD Human Biology Project Overview

Despite the identification of the gene responsible for Huntington’s disease (HD) over 25 years ago, to date there are no effective treatments available to patients to modify disease progression. Although animal models have been instrumental to our understanding of HD biology, the most physiologically relevant scientific observations are those that are recorded in HD patients. As a result, the Huntington’s Disease Society of America has adopted a patient-centric research strategy to push the field closer to meeting our goal of identifying effective therapies. The HD Human Biology Project is the cornerstone of this strategy. To date, HDSA has committed nearly $5 million dollars to support this program.

The Human Biology Project was launched in 2013 with the goal of fostering innovative research in collaboration with HD clinics to better understand the biology of Huntington’s disease as it occurs in humans. HDSA encourages researchers to consider one of HDSA’s 50 Centers of Excellence as a potential collaborator, but applicants may propose to work with any HD clinic around the world.

Project Details

  • 1-2 years of funding to support a scientist working collaboratively with an HD clinic anywhere in the world
  • Awards up to $75,000/year ($50,000 salary support and $25,000 research budget)
  • Recipient must commit at least 50% effort to the project
  • Open to researchers from around the world regardless of position/title
  • Preference given to young postdoctoral and clinical investigators (PhD and/or MDs) who are not yet independent
  • Innovative ideas from non-scientists will also be accepted and encouraged
  • Applications from for-profit institutions are welcome

Dates and Deadlines

The deadline for submitting a Letter of Intent (LOI) for the 2020 Human Biology Project has passed. Access to the full application will be extended to those whose LOIs met project guidelines. 

  • Letter of Intent due: May 22, 2020
  • Complete applications due: July 24, 2020
  • Scientific Advisory Board review: September 2020
  • Notification of award: October 2020
  • Fellowship start date: No later than January 1, 2021

Request for Proposals

This document outlines for researchers the full award details, important dates and deadlines, eligibility, and financial information for the HDSA Human Biology Project. The 2020 RFP is available for download here. 

Letter of Intent

All interested applicants must provide administrative information and upload a completed Letter of Intent (LOI) via our online application system

The LOI should be a short Microsoft Word document of 1000 words or less including the following information:

  • A short summary that outlines the intended research and specifically states how the results will help us better understand the biology of HD as it occurs in humans.
  • Any background and/or preliminary data
  • Specific aims
  • Brief experimental plan, including time required to complete studies
  • Qualifications of the researcher/applicant

Applicants whose LOIs have been accepted will be notified by email within 2 weeks of the submission deadline and will be provided the full application via our online system.


The full application requires administrative information, a signature from the applicant and their organization acknowledging the terms and conditions of this award, biographical sketches and a list of other funding (can be NIH-style) for the applicant, mentor, and other key personnel listed in the budget, a scientific abstract, lay description, and research proposal, 1-3 letters of reference from mentors or clinical collaborators, and institutional approvals for any human or animal work.   

For questions about the fellowship/application, please contact Dr. Leora Fox, Manager of Mission and Research Programs, lfox@hdsa.org, or Dr. George Yohrling, Chief Scientific Officer and Chief Mission Officer, GYohrling@hdsa.org 


Saul Martinez-Horta, MsC

Clinical Researcher
Mentor: Jaime Kulisevsky, MD, PhD, Sant Pau Hospital, Barcelona
Project Title: Neurobiological mechanisms subserving the differential expression and rate of progression of cognitive impairment in Huntington's disease Learn More

Ricardo Mouro-Pinto, PhD

Instructor in Neurology
Mentor: Vanessa Wheeler, PhD and Samuel Frank, MD, Center for Genomic Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School
Project Title: Development of CAG Contraction-based Therapeutics for Huntington’s Disease Learn More

Vilija Lomeikaite, PhD Candidate

PhD Candidate
Mentor: Darren Monkton, University of Glasgow, and Caroline Benn, LoQus23 Therapeutics
Project Title: Improving methods to accurately quantify somatic mosaicism in clinical samples from HD patients Learn More

Osama Al Dalahmah, MD, PhD

Neuropathology Fellow
Mentor: Jim Goldman, Columbia University
Project Title: The Transcriptional Landscape of Huntington Disease; Exploring the Neuroprotective Potential of Astrocytes at The Single Cell Level Learn More

Danielle Larson, MD

Neurology Fellow
Mentor: Danny Bega, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Project Title: TeleHD: Feasibility, validity, and value of telemedicine for motor and non-motor assessments in patients with Huntington’s disease Learn More