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Huntington’s Disease Society of America awards first-ever Berman-topper Family HD Career Development Fellowship


New York, NY, May 10, 2016 — The Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA) is pleased to announce that Dr. Ricardo Mouro Pinto (Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School) has been awarded the inaugural HDSA Berman-Topper Family HD Career Development Fellowship.

This prestigious new fellowship, made possibly due to generosity of the Berman and Topper families, provides up to $80,000 of funding per year for three years to young scientists and clinicians who desire to make Huntington’s disease (HD) part of their long-term career plan.

“On behalf of the Topper and Berman families, I would like to congratulate Dr. Pinto on being named the first recipient of what we hope is a valuable fellowship,” said Michael Berman. “With the support of HDSA, we are confident that Dr. Pinto’s work will lead to greater knowledge of HD and help in our goal of finding effective therapies.”

HDSA received applications from researchers from all around the world for this competitive grant.  Ultimately, the winning project will make use of innovative genome editing technology (CRISPR-cas9) to identify and validate potential new drug targets for HD that could modify the course of the disease in people.  It is officially titled: Identification of genetic modifiers of somatic CAG instability in Huntington’s disease by in-vivo CRISPR-cas9 genome editing.

“The prolonged period of stagnant NIH budgets, has increased the need for non-profit disease organizations, like HDSA, to ensure that the pipeline of HD scientists and clinicians is primed and ready for the future”, said George Yohrling, PhD, Senior Director, Mission and Scientific Affairs at HDSA.

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 HD. Today, there are over 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 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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