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 more than $6.2 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 $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

Specific information about 2023 links and deadlines will be available around March; please check back for details.

  • Letter of Intent due: Mid-May 2023
  • Complete applications due: Late July 2023
  • Scientific Advisory Board review: September/October 2023
  • Notification of award: Mid- to late-October 2023
  • Fellowship start date: No later than December 1, 2023

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 2022 RFP is available for download here. The 2023 RFP will be added around March.

Letter of Intent

All interested applicants must provide administrative information and upload a completed Letter of Intent (LOI) via our online application system, which will open in March.

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.

Application

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, Assistant Director, Research & Patient Engagement, LFox@hdsa.org, and Kelly Andrew, Coordinator, Research & Mission Programs, KAndrew@hdsa.org.

2022 RECIPIENTS

Mitsuko Nakajima, MBChB, MPhil

Clinical Research Fellow, University College London
Mentor: Mentor: Sarah Tabrizi, PhD, FMedSci
Project Title: Mapping Premanifest Huntington's Disease at Ultra-high Resolution Learn More

Kilian Hett, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Mentor: Mentor: Daniel Claassen, MD
Project Title: Cerebrospinal fluid in glymphatic circuit in Huntington's disease Learn More

Maria Rosario Fernandez-Fernandez, PhD

Senior Scientist, Fundación para la Investigación y la Innovación Biosanitaria del Principado de Asturias (FINBA)-ISPA
Mentor: Mentor: Jose Jesus Fernandez Rodriguez, PhD
Project Title: Alterations in polysomal architecture associated with Huntington’s disease (HD) progression Learn More

Paul Dennis, MFA

Professor, Hunter College, CUNY
Mentor: Mentor: Ashwini K. Rao Ed.D, OTR, FAOTA
Project Title: Movement Intervention for Neurodegenerative Disease (MIND): Dance for Huntington’s Disease (DfHD) Learn More

Lea Danics, PhD

Postdoc, Semmelweis University
Mentor: Mentor: Karolina Pircs, PhD
Project Title: Identification of novel targets with therapeutic potential in HD using a patient-derived induced neuronal model Learn More

Ines Bras, PhD

Postdoctoral Scholar, University of Central Florida
Mentor: Mentor: Amber Southwell, PhD
Project Title: Extracellular vesicles as non-invasive biomarkers for Huntington disease progression and huntingtin lowering therapy Learn More