SP Foundation (USA) makes research grant awards

Posted - March 2007 in Research Highlights

The Spastic Paraplegia Foundation in the USA recently announced the recipients of their latest Research Grant awards.

The US mounts the largest research effort into HSP, with the SP Foundation awarding a total of just under half a million US dollars ($600,000 Aust) in their most recent annual program.  Here’s their description of the research projects they have just funded:

John K. Fink, M.D. Director of the Neurogenetic
Disorders Clinic and Professor of Neurology at the
University of Michigan was awarded a grant for his
outstanding proposal entitled “Developing treatment
for childhood onset hereditary spastic paraplegia
(SPG3A HSP)”.

Dr. Fink is recognized as the world’s leading expert on HSP. He has written at least twenty published medical journal articles on HSP that describe the huge advances that he has made in understanding the causes of HSP. He was also a major force in organising two international conferences – one on HSP and one on PLS.

Dr. Fink’s grant is a two year grant that will total $120,000.



Nina Tang Sherwood, Ph.D. an Assistant Research
Professor at Duke University was awarded a grant for
her superb proposal "Understanding the ameliorative
effects of temperature in fruit fly models of AD-HSP”.

Dr. Sherwood has developed a fruit fly model of HSP caused by mutations in its Spastin gene, and discovered much about the role of the Spastin gene product in fruit flies. She first published research about this work in 2004.

Dr. Sherwood was also awarded a two-year grant that totals $120,000.



Jeffrey D. Macklis, M.D., D.HST, and Paola Arlotta,
Ph.D. were awarded a one year grant totaling $125,000
for their proposal entitled “Molecular Controls over
the Development, Connections, and Survival of Upper
Motor Neurons”. Their 2006 proposal enlarges the
scope of their 2005 proposal that the SPF funded last
year.

Dr. Jeffrey Macklis is an Associate Professor of
Neurosurgery, and the Director of the
Harvard Stem Cell Institute, as well as the
Massachusetts General Hospital Harvard Medical
School Center for Nervous System Repair. He has
written approximately 85 articles regarding his work
in major scientific journals. He and his team have
made numerous major discoveries in the use of stem
cells to grow upper motor neurons. In fact, some of
their work has shown that the scientific rule that
upper motor neurons could never be regenerated was
wrong!

Paola Arlotta, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor at the
Harvard Stem Cell Institute
and the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for
Regenerative Medicine. Dr. Arlotta has published at
least seven papers in major scientific journals
describing the huge advances that she has made,
working with Dr. Macklis and others, in regenerating
upper motor neurons.