New York, NY, October 12, 2017 — Today, the Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA) announced that four new research grants have been awarded under the Society’s largest research initiative, the HDSA Huntington’s Disease Human Biology Project.  Totaling nearly half a million dollars, 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 2017 HD Human Biology Project continues HDSA’s history of providing the necessary resources to scientists to better understand HD in the best model of the disease, people”, said George Yohrling, PhD, Senior Director, Mission and Scientific Affairs at HDSA.  “Our 2017 fellows will pursue innovative and understudied lines of HD research.  Their projects will expand our knowledge of HD by investigating topics related to cognitive reserve, GI disruption, biomarker development and novel neuroprotective mechanisms.”

HDSA received applications from researchers from all around the world.  Ultimately, grants were awarded to four research fellows, from the England, Italy and the United States.

The winners and titles of the 2017 HDSA HD Human Biology Project Grants are:
  • Dr. Marta Biagioli, Assistant Professor, University of Trento, Italy: CircRNAs, non-coding, stable RNA circles as potential new biomarkers for Huntington’s disease.
  • Dr. Ali Khoshnan, Senior Research Scientist, California Institute of Technology: Exploring intestinal dysbiosis and developing Gastrointestinal-based therapeutics for Huntington’s disease.
  • Dr. Marina Papoutsi, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University College London, England: Variability in cognitive impairment in Huntington’s disease: the effect of environment on cognitive reserve.
  • Andrea Ruetenik, Graduate Student, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine: The protective role of NAD salvage pathway proteins against mutant huntingtin toxicity.

For a complete summary of these four research projects, please click here.

“By funding important science from developing young scientists, HDSA’s Human Biology Project is actively shaping the scientific progress to treat and ultimately cure HD,” said Louise Vetter, President & Chief Executive Officer of HDSA.  “As HDSA marks fifty years of working tirelessly to improve the lives of people affected by Huntington’s disease, our commitment to research is unwavering.  We will not stop until HD no longer destroys families.”

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 30,000 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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