GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (April 27, 2021) — Van Andel Institute has chosen internationally recognized Parkinson’s disease expert Ted Dawson, M.D., Ph.D, to receive its 2021 Jay Van Andel Award for Outstanding Achievement in Parkinson’s Disease Research. The award will be presented during Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease, VAI’s flagship annual Parkinson’s disease symposium, Oct. 6–8, 2021. This year’s symposium will be held virtually.
Dr. Dawson is the director of the Institute for Cell Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, where he also serves as the Leonard and Madlyn Abramson Professor of Neurodegenerative Diseases and as a professor of neurology, neuroscience and pharmacology, and molecular sciences.
His groundbreaking research has revealed game-changing insights into the molecular and genetic mechanisms underlying Parkinson’s disease, many of which have informed the development of potential new medications. Most recently, Dr. Dawson and his colleagues have linked a molecular pathway that governs cell death with the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells, which in turn leads to Parkinson’s hallmark movement-related symptoms.
“We are honored to recognize Dr. Dawson’s exceptional research, which has transformed the understanding of Parkinson’s and opened new doors for developing therapies that slow or stop disease progression,” said Darren Moore, Ph.D., chair of VAI’s Department of Neurodegenerative Science and co-chair of the 2021 symposium.
The Jay Van Andel Award for Outstanding Achievement in Parkinson’s Disease Research was established in 2012 in memory of VAI founder Jay Van Andel, who battled Parkinson’s disease for a decade before his death in 2004. The annual award is given to scientists who have made outstanding contributions to Parkinson’s disease research and who have positively impacted human health.
Each year, Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease and Rallying to the Challenge, the parallel meeting for people with Parkinson’s hosted in partnership with Cure Parkinson’s, bring together scientists, medical professionals and Parkinson’s advocates from across the globe to explore the latest breakthroughs in Parkinson’s research and treatment.
This year’s events will be virtual and free of charge. They will feature scientific talks and panel discussions by 27 invited speakers, a research poster session and advocacy discussions, all focused on the influence of genetic risk factors on cell and brain biology, including risk for Parkinson’s. Speakers also will discuss how genetic factors may be leveraged for treatment with a special focus on clinical trials, drug discovery and biomarker development that target the genes GBA1 and LRRK2.
Registration for the 2021 virtual Grand Challenge in Parkinson’s Disease symposium and Rallying to the Challenge meeting will open in May. For more information, visit grandchallengesinpd.org.
ABOUT VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE
Van Andel Institute (VAI) is committed to improving the health and enhancing the lives of current and future generations through cutting edge biomedical research and innovative educational offerings. Established in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1996 by the Van Andel family, VAI is now home to more than 400 scientists, educators and support staff, who work with a growing number of national and international collaborators to foster discovery. The Institute’s scientists study the origins of cancer, Parkinson’s and other diseases and translate their findings into breakthrough prevention and treatment strategies. Our educators develop inquiry-based approaches for K-12 education to help students and teachers prepare the next generation of problem-solvers, while our Graduate School offers a rigorous, research-intensive Ph.D. program in molecular and cellular biology. Learn more at vai.org.
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