Laurie Sanders, PhD, assistant professor of neurology in the Pittsburgh Institute of Neurodegenerative Diseases, University of Pittsburgh, will receive the William N. & Bernice E. Bumpus Foundation Innovation Award. The Innovation Award is designed to provide support for the next generation of exceptionally creative thinkers with "high risk/high reward" ideas that have the potential to significantly impact the understanding of the cause and prevention of Parkinson's disease.
The $300,000 award will enable Dr. Sanders to further investigate the underlying mechanisms of neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease. There is strong evidence that oxidative damage to proteins and lipids are a contributing factor to the development of Parkinson's disease, but very little is known about unrepaired mtDNA damage, which has been shown to lead to cell death. Dr. Sanders' research will focus on the events that lead to mtDNA damage and could lead to crucial advances in the understanding of Parkinson's disease and experimental therapeutics.