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 $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 54 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 7, 2021
  • Complete applications due: July 9, 2021
  • Scientific Advisory Board review: September 2021
  • Notification of award: October 2021
  • Fellowship start date: No later than December 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 2021 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.

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.

2020 RECIPIENTS

Melanie Alpaugh


Mentor: Dr. Francesca Cicchetti, Laval University, Canada
Project Title: Interrogating blood samples from Huntington’s disease patients to better understand cognitive impairments Learn More

Yifat Glikmann-Johnston


Mentor: Dr. Julie Stout, Monash University, Australia
Project Title: Targeting the Huntington’s disease gut microbiome Learn More

Bjoern von Einem


Mentor: Dr. Bernhard Landwehrmeyer, Ulm University, Germany
Project Title: Feasibility of assessing mHTT and wtHTT mRNA levels in CSF-derived exosomes Learn More

Simon Laganiere


Mentor: Dr. Sam Frank, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, Massachusetts
Project Title: Identifying novel neuroimaging biomarkers in early pre-manifest Huntington’s disease Learn More