HD Human Biology Project Overview

Despite the identification of the gene responsible for Huntington’s disease (HD) over 30 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 humans with HD. 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 more than $9 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 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 $90,000/year (Up to $72,000 salary support and maximum $30,000 research budget; annual travel costs cannot exceed $5,000).
  • 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 3rd, 2024
  • Complete applications due: July 5th, 2024
  • Scientific Advisory Board review: September 2024
  • Notification of award: October 2024
  • Fellowship start date: No later than December 1, 2024

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 2024 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, ProposalCentral.

If you have previously used ProposalCentral, you may sign in here and search for an Open Opportunity by typing “Huntington’s Disease Society of America” in the search box field and filtering opportunities by Grant Maker. This should take you to the Human Biology Project LOI. If you have not used ProposalCentral before, you can create an account using the same link.   

You may also begin a new LOI with the direct to program link, here. Note that this link will always take you to a new LOI; to continue an existing LOI you must login to ProposalCentral.com.

The LOI should be a short Microsoft Word document, maximum 2 pages, 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.   

Summaries of previously funded projects can be found below.

For questions about the fellowship/application, please contact Dr. Leora Fox, Assistant Director, Research & Patient Engagement, LFox@hdsa.org, and Kelly Andrew, Coordinator, Research & Mission Programs, KAndrew@hdsa.org.


Xiangrui Zeng, PhD

Research Fellow, Massachusetts General Hospital
Mentor: Drs. Diana Rosas, Bruce Fischl, and Juan Iglesias
Project Title: Integrating clinical MRI and ultra-high resolution ex vivo MRI to model laminar anomaly progression in Huntington's disease Learn More

Natalia Pessoa Rocha, PhD, PharmD

Assistant Professor, University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston
Mentor: Dr. Erin Furr-Stimming
Project Title: Olfactory dysfunction and clinical correlates in patients with Huntington’s disease Learn More

Nikhil Ratna, PhD

Postdoctoral Scholar, University of Washington
Mentor: Dr. Jeff Carroll
Project Title: Bringing a Historical HD Brain Bank into the Single Cell Era Learn More

Roy Maimon, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California San Diego
Mentor: Mentor: Dr. Don Cleveland
Project Title: Identifying Mechanisms of Adult Neurogenesis by Exploiting Single Cell Spatial Transcriptomics and Application to HD Learn More

Thiago Macedo e Cordeiro, MD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston
Mentor: Mentors: Antonio Teixeira, MD, PhD, and Erin Furr-Stimming, MD
Project Title: Home-based TDCS for cognitive and behavioral symptoms in Huntington's disease: a pilot feasibility and mechanistic study Learn More

Jessica Levesley, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of British Columbia
Mentor: Mentor: Dr. Michael Hayden
Project Title: Investigation of the effect and mechanistic drivers of loss of interruption modifier variants in Huntington disease patients Learn More