Contact: Mynelly Perez
212-242-1968, ext 214


Huntington’s Disease Society of America Announces First-Ever HD Human Biology Project Awards

New York, NY, October 3, 2013 — The Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA) is pleased to announce that four research grants have been awarded to launch the Society’s new research initiative, the HDSA Huntington’s Disease Human Biology Project.  Totaling $575,000, these grants emphasize the importance of bringing basic and clinical researchers together to facilitate Huntington’s disease (HD) science beyond animal models into human data and with the participation of HD patients.

Uniquely, the HD Human Biology Project requires that all awardees propose to work in collaboration with at least one of the twenty-one HDSA Centers of Excellence across the USA.  The HDSA Centers of Excellence are a select network of academic medical centers providing expert multi-disciplinary care to HD patients and families from health professionals with deep passion in the area of Huntington’s disease.

“These awards will foster innovative research to help the HD research community better understand the biology of Huntington’s disease as it occurs in humans”, said George Yohrling, PhD, Director of Medical and Scientific Affairs at HDSA.  “We are excited about the potential impact these HDSA supported studies can have on assessing potential disease-modifying therapies, as well as expanding our knowledge of the underlying causes of disease progression.”

HDSA received applications from researchers from twelve different countries.  Ultimately, grants were awarded to four research fellows.  The winning projects include statistical modeling of clinical HD data to better predict HD onset, biomarker development, and metabolic profiling of HD patient samples to better understand disease pathology.  The winners and titles of the 2013 HDSA HD Human Biology Project Fellowships are:

  • Dr. Robert Boggio, Senior Research Scientist, IRBM Promidis, Pomezia, Italy: Development of a novel, ultra sensitive bioassay for quantification of full-length mutant huntingtin in patient body fluids and analysis of different forms of huntingtin during disease progression.
  •  Dr. Helen Budworth, Project Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory: Metabolomic and gene expression analysis of fatty acid metabolism biomarkers of Huntington’s disease.
  •  Dr. Tanya Garcia, Assistant Professor, Texas A&M Health Science Center: Improved Definition and Prediction of Huntington’s disease motor-onset using advanced statistical models.
  • Dr. Jun Hua, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Kennedy Krieger Institute: Functional and Neurovascular biomarkers for HD using MRI at 7T.

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

“HDSA has a long history of supporting important HD science while simultaneously offering a broad catalog of programs to support families who are living with HD,” Louise Vetter, CEO of HDSA.  “Funded by the generosity of families who are committed to making a difference in the fight against HD, the Human Biology Project underscores our dedication to providing help for today and hope for tomorrow in order to bring our vision of a world free of Huntington’s closer.”

Huntington’s disease is a hereditary, degenerative brain disorder that results in a loss of cognitive, behavioral and physical control, and for which, presently, there is no cure. Symptoms usually appear in an individual between 30 and 50 years of age and progresses over a 10 to 25 year period.  Cases of juvenile HD have been diagnosed in children as young as two years of age.  Eventually, a person with HD becomes totally dependent upon others for his or her care.

More than 30,000 people in the United States are currently diagnosed with HD.  Each of their siblings and children has a 50 percent risk of developing the disease.  Although medications can relieve some symptoms in certain individuals, science has yet to find a means of conquering or even slowing the deadly progression of HD.

The Huntington’s Disease Society of America is the largest non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of everyone affected by Huntington’s disease. Founded in 1968 by Marjorie Guthrie, wife of folk singer Woody Guthrie who lost his battle with HD, the Society works tirelessly to provide community services, education, advocacy and research to support everyone affected by HD.

To learn more about Huntington’s disease and the work of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America, or call 1-800-345-HDSA.

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Contact: Mynelly Perez
         p. 212-242-1968, ext 214