Montreal Neurological Institute researcher Dr Edward Fon receives a $296,656 US grant from the Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) for Parkinson's Research.
The grant to Dr Fon is part of a $2.6 million US initiative by the MJFF to study the role of protein degradation in Parkinson's disease. The MJFF announced the 11 international grant awards on January 13, 2003. Dr Fon is the only recipient at a Canadian institution.
Dr Fon is an Assistant Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University. He is a Clinician Scientist at the Montreal Neurological Institute specializing in the study and treatment of Parkinson's Disease. Dr Fon's research focuses on the molecular events leading to the degeneration of dopamine neurons in Parkinson's Disease.
Parkinson's Disease involves the death of dopamine nerve cells in the brain and leads to devastating motor and functional impairment. Although treatment is available, its effectiveness diminishes over the long term. Hope for a more definitive treatment lies in basic biomedical research. Already, important advances have been made using molecular and genetic approaches. In the past six years, five genes, which cause familial forms of Parkinson's Disease have been identified. Of these genes, "parkin" accounts for more cases than all the others combined. It is responsible for a young-onset familial form of the disease as well as certain non-familial cases.
Dr Fon's laboratory is interested in understanding the normal function of parkin and how defects in parkin lead to Parkinson's Disease. "It appears that the protein parkin functions as a key enzyme in the cell's main mechanism for protein degradation" said Dr Fon. "We believe that defects in parkin function might lead to inefficient protein degradation and the accumulation of potentially toxic proteins within dopamine nerve cells. This grant from the MJFF will allow us to further our understanding of parkin function and will enhance our understanding of the mechanisms of dopamine nerve cell death in Parkinson's Disease."
Dr Edward Fon is an Assistant Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery (McGill University) at the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI). He is a Clinician Scientist with a particular interest in Parkinson's Disease.
Dr Fon is a native of Montreal, obtaining his MD degree from the Université de Montreal and completing a Residency in Neurology at McGill University. Dr Fon conducted a Clinical and Research Fellowship in Neurogenetics with Dr Guy Rouleau at McGill University and completed his postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Dr Robert Edwards at the University of California, San Francisco.
Dr Fon's research focuses on the molecular events leading to the degeneration of dopamine neurons in Parkinson's Disease (PD). His laboratory is studying the link between normal dopaminergic neurotransmission and degeneration. The approach involves analyzing the roles of proteins such as parkin, and focusing on how protein defects lead to the cellular and molecular changes that result in degeneration. Dr Fon is also interested in the vesicular transport mechanisms regulating storage and release of dopamine, and how defects in these processes might contribute to dopamine cell death.
The Montreal Neurological Institute (www.mni.mcgill.ca) is a McGill University (www.mcgill.ca) research and teaching institute, dedicated to the study of the nervous system and neurological diseases. Since its founding in 1934 by the renowned Dr Wilder Penfield, the MNI has helped put Canada on the international map. It is one of the world's largest institutes of its kind; MNI researchers are world leaders in biotechnology, brain imaging, cognitive neuroscience and the study and treatment of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and neuromuscular disorders.
For more information, please visit Michael J. Fox Foundation and the Parkinson's Disease web site