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Huntington’s Disease Society of America Announces Winners of 2016 Donald A. King Summer Research Fellowships
Scientists working at University of Iowa, Institute for Systems Biology and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia awarded fellowships to work on Huntington’s disease

New York, NY (April 18, 2016) — The Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2016 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 affecting approximately 30,000 Americans.

After rigorous review by the HDSA’s Scientific Advisory Board, three impressive students were awarded 2016 Donald A. King Summer Research Fellowships:

Mr. Lance Heady (University of Iowa) will be working at the University of Iowa with Dr. Andrew Pieper. He will be using a Caenorhabditis elegans (worm) model of HD to study the effectiveness of a novel class of neuroprotective compounds.

Ms. Dani Bergey (Montana State University) will spend the summer working with Dr. Nathan Price at the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, Washington on a project to use computational analyses of gene expression data to try to understand why neurodegeneration is seen first in the striatum of HD patients.

Ms. ShuJuan Zheng (University of Pennsylvania) will be working under the guidance of Dr. Beverly Davidson at the Center for Cell and Molecular Therapy at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Her project will assess the ability of different viruses that are used to deliver gene silencing drugs to spread in the different cellular populations in the brain.

HDSA established the Donald A. King Summer Research Fellowship program in 2005 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 second, to facilitate meaningful HD research to clarify the biological mechanisms underlying HD pathology. Applicants are evaluated by the quality of personal academic achievements, the mentoring plan for candidate, scientific rigor of the experimental design, and feasibility to achieve significant deliverables in a short summer timeframe.

Fellows present the outcomes of their projects to the HD community the summer following their award at the HDSA Annual Convention. The 31st Annual HDSA Convention, featuring the 2015 King Fellows, takes place June 2-4, 2016 in Baltimore, MD. Visit for more details and to register.


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 30,000 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.