New York, NY (April 26, 2021) — The Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2021 Donald A. King Summer Research Fellowships, a vital program to train the next-generation of scientists with research expertise in Huntington’s disease. Huntington’s disease is a rare, hereditary neurodegenerative disorder currently affecting approximately 41,000 Americans.

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 second, to facilitate meaningful HD research to clarify the biological mechanisms underlying HD pathology.  Applicants are evaluated by the quality of their personal academic achievements, mentoring plan, experimental design, and the feasibility of achieving their scientific goals in a short summer time frame.  

After review by HDSA’s Scientific Advisory Board, two young scientists were awarded 2021 Donald A. King Summer Research Fellowships.

  • Ratnesh Kesineni (University of Central Florida) will be mentored by former HDSA Human Biology Fellow Dr. Amber Southwell and will explore a potential link between biological age and aggregation of misfolded mutant huntingtin (mHTT) for potential therapeutic targeting.
  • Russell Wells (Whitworth University) will work with Michael Sardinia, PhD, DVM, to study the effects of dihexa, a small molecule that has previously shown positive effects in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease models, for the treatment of Huntington’s disease phenotypes in mice models.

HDSA established the Donald A. King Summer Research Fellowship program in 2005 in honor of Donald A. King who passed away suddenly in 2004.  Don was a tireless advocate for HD families and served as HDSA’s Chairman of the Board from 1999 to 2003. Click here to learn more about HDSA’s Donald A. King Summer Research Fellowship.


Huntington’s disease is a fatal genetic disorder that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. It deteriorates a person’s physical and mental abilities during their prime working years and has no cure. Every child of a parent with HD has a 50/50 chance of carrying the faulty gene. Today, there are approximately 41,000 symptomatic Americans and more than 200,000 at-risk of inheriting the disease.

The symptoms of HD are described as having ALS, Parkinson’s & Alzheimer’s – simultaneously.

The Huntington’s Disease Society of America is the premier nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of everyone affected by HD.  From community services and education to advocacy and research, HDSA is the world’s leader in providing help for today and hope for tomorrow for people with HD and their families.

To learn more about Huntington’s disease and the work of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America, visit or call (800)345-HDSA.