Van Andel Institute to recognize eminent Parkinson’s disease scientist Dr. Anders Björklund with 2024 Jay Van Andel Award

Annual award celebrates outstanding achievements in Parkinson’s research

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (April 11, 2024)Van Andel Institute has named pioneering scientist Anders Björklund, M.D., Ph.D., as recipient of its 2024 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, Sept. 23–24, 2024.

As a world leader in Parkinson’s research, Björklund’s work focuses on finding ways to prevent and repair cellular damage caused by the disease. Parkinson’s symptoms arise after the loss of brain cells that produce the chemical messenger dopamine, resulting in the disease’s hallmark movement-related symptoms.

Dr. Anders Björklund | Courtesy of Dr. Björklund

In the 1980s, Björklund’s team at Lund University in Sweden pioneered the first clinical studies to transplant healthy dopamine-producing neurons into the brains of people with Parkinson’s, with the idea to replace those lost to the disease. This critical work demonstrated that transplanted dopamine neurons can survive and flourish, restore dopamine production and, in some cases, induce significant clinical improvement.

“Dr. Björklund is an exceptional scientist whose keen insight and thoughtful dedication has led to countless breakthroughs in pursuit of cell-based treatments for Parkinson’s disease,” said Darren Moore, Ph.D., chair of VAI’s Department of Neurodegenerative Science and co-chair of the 2024 symposium. “We are honored to present him with the Jay Van Andel Award in recognition of his immeasurable contributions to the Parkinson’s field and community.”

Björklund is a professor at Lund University’s Wallenberg Center. He is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, an international member of the National Academy of Sciences and recipient of several awards including the inaugural Robert A. Pritzker Prize for Leadership in Parkinson’s Research.

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 exceptional contributions to Parkinson’s disease research and who have positively impacted human health.

As part of the award, Björklund will deliver the keynote lecture on the first day of Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease.

Each year, the Grand Challenge in Parkinson’s Disease symposium and Rallying to the Challenge meeting, a parallel event 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. The theme for 2024 is Cell Vulnerabilities and Therapeutics.

Related: Learn more about Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease ➔

In addition to the Jay Van Andel Award lecture, the events will feature scientific talks by more than 20 speakers, a research poster session and advocacy discussions.

Registration for the 2024 Grand Challenge in Parkinson’s Disease symposium and Rallying to the Challenge meeting is open and may be completed at grandchallengesinpd.org.