New York, NY, October 14, 2021 — Today, the Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA) announced that five research grants totally more than $728,000 have been awarded under the Society’s largest research initiative, the HDSA Huntington’s Disease Human Biology Project.  These grants represent HDSA’s patient-centric research focus which brings basic and clinical researchers together to facilitate Huntington’s disease (HD) science in the human condition – instead of in animal models – with the direct participation of people affected by HD. 

“The HDSA HD Human Biology Project is focused on better understanding and accelerating research on Huntington’s disease in people,” said Louise Vetter, President & CEO of HDSA.  “The projects selected in 2021 reflect a thriving therapeutic pipeline in their focus on identifying biomarkers to inform future HD trials and exploring novel pathways for drug development.”   

HDSA received applications from researchers all around the world. Ultimately, grants were awarded to research fellows from Canada, Spain, and the United States. The winners and titles of the 2021 HDSA HD Human Biology Project Grants are: 

  • Ana Gámez-Valero, PhD, Universidad de Barcelona: Plasma extracellular small RNAs as early biomarkers of Huntington’s disease and indicators of dynamic changes in disease progression  
  • Tamara Maiuri, PhD, McMaster University: Poly ADP-ribose dysregulation in HD patient samples and potential for therapeutic intervention 
  • Joan O’Keefe, PhD, PT Rush University Medical Center: Neural underpinnings of cognitive, balance and gait deficits in Huntington’s disease 
  • Alby Richard, MD, PhD, University of Montreal: Oculomotor Learning as a Biomarker in Huntington’s Disease patients 
  •  Charlene Smith-Geater, PhD, University of California, Irvine: Modulation of E3 SUMO-ligase PIAS1 in 3D cortico-striatal assembloids and investigation of the HD relevant CSF SUMO-ome

Click here for a complete summary of these five research projects.

“HDSA is proud to support this global group of scientists as they bring their talent and curiosity into the HD field,” added Ms. Vetter.  “The HD Human Biology Project is a unique and important research program which continues our tradition of moving HD science forward so that effective treatments can be made available to families affected by HD as soon as possible.”  

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. Each child of a parent with HD has a 50/50 chance of inheriting the faulty gene that causes Huntington’s disease. Today, there are over 41,000 symptomatic Americans and more than 200,000 at-risk of inheriting the disease. The symptoms of Huntington’s disease are described as having ALS, Parkinson’s and 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 1-800-345-HDSA. 


Media:  Christopher Cosentino, HDSA Director of Marketing & Communications,