Awards, Honors, and Grants

December 01, 2023

Khurana Receives $4M NINDS Grant to Study Function of Protein Involved in Parkinson's Disease

Vikram Khurana, MD, PhD

Vikram Khurana, MD, PhD, of the Department of Neurology, received a five-year, $4 million R01 grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) to further his research on the functions of alpha-synuclein, a protein involved in the development of Parkinson’s disease.

The research, first published in June 2022, suggested alpha-synuclein plays two roles. The team, including co-investigator Erinc Hallacli, PhD, discovered that in addition to interacting with vesicles, or transport structures within the cell, alpha-synuclein also binds to structures known as P-bodies, which are part of the cell that regulates messenger RNA (mRNA). When someone develops Parkinson’s disease, the balance between the two functions is broken. This $4 million grant will help address how important the newly discovered function of the protein is for patients with Parkinson’s disease, and further the researchers’ work with human brain tissue and human stem cells derived from patients. They will also study how frequent P-bodies are disrupted in Parkinson’s disease.

Khurana is chief of the Division of Movement Disorders. His lab studies therapies to prevent, slow or reverse neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s. Hallacli is a molecular biologist and became the lab’s first assistant professor of Neurology in March 2023.

The mission of NINDS, one of the 27 institutes and centers that comprise the National Institutes of Health, is to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease.