Overview

In 2005, HDSA established the Donald A. King Summer Research Fellowship program in honor of Donald King who passed away in 2004. Don was a tireless advocate for HD families and served as HDSA’s Chairman of the Board from 1999 to 2003. The purpose of this fellowship program is two-fold: first, to attract the brightest young scientists into the field of Huntington’s disease research and secondly, to facilitate meaningful HD research to clarify the biological mechanisms underlying HD pathology.

The Fellowship sponsors college students to pursue an HD research project during the summer months. Fellowship recipients, working under the supervision of senior HD scientists, will undertake a project that is focused and achievable in a short timeframe, yet helpful in guiding future HD research. Applications are accepted between December and March each year.

Purpose

There is a continual and important need to continue to train the next-generation of scientists and physicians with research expertise in neurodegenerative disorders, especially Huntington’s disease. The purpose of the Donald A. King Summer Research Fellowships program is two-fold: first, to attract the brightest young scientists into the field of Huntington’s disease research and secondly, to facilitate meaningful HD research to clarify the biological mechanisms underlying HD pathology.

Objective

The objective of the Donald A. King Summer Research Fellowships is to sponsor HD investigations that can be conducted over a 10-week period, between May and September. Fellowship recipients, working under the supervision of senior HD scientists, will undertake a project that will be helpful in future HD research and also nurture a continuing interest in HD research. The student fellowships are designed to attract the brightest future scientists into a career in Huntington’s disease research.

Eligibility

Application is open to matriculated undergraduate life sciences students, pre-medical students, and first-year medical students who are currently attending accredited institutions in the United States. The students will conduct full-time research, under the direction of a mentor, investigating a subject relevant to Huntington’s disease. Applications must be accompanied by a letter of support from the mentor who oversees the laboratory where the research will be performed. The duration of each project shall be at least 10 weeks.

Terms

The Donald A. King Summer Fellowship will provide funds, in the amount of $4,000, as stipend for a student(s) who completes a 10-week summer fellowship and submits to HDSA a report of their activities and findings. In addition, up to $500 is available for the host university/lab/center to help defray the costs associated with the research. Awards will be paid by HDSA directly to the student in two equal installments: the first (75%) payment shall be made upon written acceptance of the award; the second (25%) installment shall be made upon successful completion and fulfillment of the terms and conditions of the award. Any and all published papers, posters and abstracts resulting from research performed as an awardee must acknowledge the Huntington’s Disease Society of America, and be provided to HDSA when in-press.

Application

Each student applying for a fellowship must complete an application form outlining their project, and can only submit the form with an endorsement from a faculty mentor who will supervise the student. Selection criteria will include the academic credentials of the student, the scientific merit of the proposed project, and the relevancy of the proposal to HD. HDSA has a review committee which will select up to two candidates for funding and one alternate. Each recipient will be required to submit a progress report upon completion to receive final payment. Payment will be made directly to the fellowship recipient. A separate payment for the research expenses will be paid directly to the host institution where the research will be performed. Progress Reports will be circulated among all HDSA senior investigators and reports of interest may be published by HDSA in its research publications. Awardees may be invited to present the results of their research findings at an annual HDSA Convention.

Meet the 2019 Fellowship Recipients

Mr. Zach Cook (Brown University) will spend the summer working with Marc Tatar, PhD testing effectiveness of drugs in a fruit fly (Drosophila) model of Huntington’s disease.

Ms. Chloe LaRochelle (University of Central Florida) will be working under the guidance of Amber Southwell, PhD on a project that aims to investigate aggression in HD mice.

Ms. Alexandra Putka (Duke University) will be working in the laboratory of Dr. Audrey Dickey to elucidate how altered function of a protein called PPAR contributes to HD pathology.

Ms. Colleen Strohlein (University of Pittsburgh) will spend the summer working in the laboratory of Robert Friedlander, MD to investigate huntingtin protein phosphorylation status on the localization of mitochondria in HD.