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 over $4 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 43 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

  • Letter of Intent due: May 24, 2019
  • Complete applications due: July 26, 2019
  • Scientific Advisory Board review: September 2019
  • Notification of award: October 2019
  • Fellowship start date: No later than January 1, 2020

For more information contact: Dr. George Yohrling, Senior Director of Mission and Scientific Affairs at GYohrling@hdsa.org or Dr. Leora Fox, Manager of Mission and Research Programs at lfox@hdsa.org

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. DOWNLOAD DOCUMENT

Submit Letter of Intent

All interested applicants must provide administrative information and upload a completed Letter of Intent (LOI) via our online form. 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 provided the full application.




Michael Placzek, PhD

Instructor at Massachusetts General Hospital
Mentor: Jacob Hooker, PhD
Project Title: COX-2 PET radiotracers for imaging early HD pathology in the living brain Learn More

Edith Pfister, PhD

Instructor at University of Massachusetts Medical School
Mentor: Neil Aronin, PhD
Project Title: Alternative polyadenylation of the human HTT mRNA and its effect on mutant HTT accumulation Learn More

Richard Hickman, MBChB

Neuropathology Fellow at Columbia University
Mentor: Ai Yamamoto, PhD, and Jean-Paul Vonsattel, MD
Project Title: Aberrations in autophagy in the human brain of Huntington’s disease: a post-mortem study with correlation to murine models Learn More

Isabelle St. Amour, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow at Université Laval
Mentor: Sébastien Hébert, PhD
Project Title: Project Title: Importance of microRNA biogenesis deficits in Huntington’s disease Learn More

Rossana Foti, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow at University of Copenhagen, Center for Translational Neuromedicine
Mentor: Steven A. Goldman, MD, PhD
Project Title: Epigenetic dysregulation of oligodendrocyte differentiation and myelinogenesis in Huntington’s disease, and its relationship to disease-associated neuropsychiatric pathology Learn More