July 10, 2006
Contact: Jennifer Forbes, Communication/Public Affairs
UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Researcher Receives Funding for Translational Research from The Michael J. Fox Foundation
New Brunswick—Mona Thiruchelvam, PhD, assistant professor of environmental and occupational medicine at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School is one of 10 recipients internationally to receive a grant for translational research in Parkinson’s disease (PD) from The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.
The Foundation awarded $1.8 million in total funding to 10 research teams working to validate the therapeutic potential of various basic science discoveries, pushing them one step closer to the clinic. The projects are being funded under the foundation's annual Target Validation initiative, the focal point of which is to ensure that the translation of research into beneficial therapies for PD is confirmed through narrowly-focused validation studies.
Dr. Thiruchelvam's lab is one of six teams that will work to generate new neuroprotective strategies with potential to slow or stop disease progression, something no treatment on today's market can do. Her research will focus on synthetic estrogen's ability to protect dopamine neurons in culture.
The evidence for estrogen’s neuroprotective potential is considerable: epidemiological data demonstrate a lower risk of PD in women than in men; estrogen replacement therapy further reduces risk; and protective effects of estrogen have been seen in animal models of PD.
Four other teams will investigate potential approaches to alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson's Disease.
Founded in 2000, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research is dedicated to ensuring the development of a cure for Parkinson's disease within this decade through an aggressively funded research agenda. The Foundation has funded nearly $76 million in research to date, either directly or through partnerships. For more information, visit www.michaeljfox.org.
As one of the nation’s leading comprehensive medical schools, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, with campuses in New Brunswick, Piscataway and Camden, is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in education, research, health care delivery and the promotion of community health for the residents of New Jersey. With 2,400 full-time and volunteer faculty, the medical school maintains educational programs at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels for more than 1,500 students, as well as continuing education courses for health care professionals and community education programs.
As one of eight schools of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, the medical school encompasses 21 basic science and clinical departments and also integrates diverse clinical programs conducted at its 34 hospital affiliates and numerous ambulatory care sites in the region. UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School also hosts 85 centers and institutes; among them are The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the Child Health Institute of New Jersey, the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute and the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey.