New York, NY, December 3, 2020 — Today, the Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA) announced that four research grants 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 was created to enable scientists to better understand Huntington’s disease in people,” said George Yohrling, PhD, Chief Scientific and Mission Officer at HDSA.  “Our 2020 fellows were selected by the Scientific Advisory Board at HDSA because their work holds the promise of filling critical gaps in our current knowledge of HD.”

HDSA received applications from researchers all around the world. Ultimately, grants were awarded to research fellows from Australia, Canada, Germany, and the United States.

The winners and titles of the 2020 HDSA HD Human Biology Project Grants are:

  • Melanie Alpaugh, PhD, Université Laval: Interrogating blood samples from Huntington’s disease patients to better understand cognitive impairments
  • Yifat Glikmann-Johnston, PhD, Monash University: Targeting the Huntington’s disease gut microbiome
  • Simon Laganiere, MD, Harvard Medical School: Identifying novel neuroimaging biomarkers in early pre-manifest Huntington’s disease
  • Bjoern von Einem, PhD, University Hospital Ulm: Feasibility of assessing mHTT and wtHTT mRNA levels in CSF-derived exosomes

For a complete summary of these four research projects, please visit

“HDSA is proud to support this global group of scientists as they bring their talent and curiosity into the HD field,” said Louise Vetter, President & Chief Executive Officer of HDSA.  “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.

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