Tracking the Impact of APDA-funded Parkinson’s Research

APDA and Research Projects: Making a Difference

APDA proudly invests in the most promising clinicians and scientific projects focused on the discovery of the cause(s) and finding the cure(s) for Parkinson’s disease (PD). APDA is committed to scientific research and has been a funding partner in many major PD scientific breakthroughs, investing nearly $55 million in research since 1961. We are very proud of the impact our research funds have made in the past.


What are some past APDA Research Projects?

Many APDA-funded researchers have successfully leveraged pilot data to secure multimillion-dollar grants through the National Institutes of Health and other funding partners. You can learn more about our research program in our research video. You can also read more about our past researchers and how APDA grants have been vital in their ongoing work:

Every year, our Scientific Advisory Board meets in the spring to select the scientists that will receive APDA research funding. You can read about how a scientist develops a project.

APDA’s Newly-Funded 2023 Research Awardees

Our current group of grantees is working on exciting projects ranging from understanding the molecular underpinnings of anxiety in PD to testing the use of augmented reality in treating freezing of gait. Our grantees send us six-month and 12-month progress reports to keep us up to date on how their projects are progressing.

It is important to note that research advances can be slow, and the impact of our grant money given in one year may only be felt in a later year.

In an ideal world, we would be able to trace our research money from grant to a new treatment, but that is hard to do for many reasons:

  1. Usually, it is not one research project that leads to a new treatment but a contribution over time from many different projects.
  2. APDA often funds projects that are early in the pipeline and are focused on a more basic understanding of PD biology. These projects are essential to build our knowledge that will lead to new treatments, but the earlier on in the research pipeline we fund, the less likely we will be able to follow the line from the money to the treatment.

Tracking the Impact of APDA-funded Research

How do we know whether our Parkinson’s research investment has been put to good use? There are alternate markers that the research community uses to determine if research has been successful.

Here are various ways that APDA uses to understand the impact of our grant money:

  • Number of papers published in the medical literature that acknowledge APDA funding.
  • Quality of the journals in which the APDA-funded papers are published.
    • Not all medical journals are considered on par with each other. Some are more selective in the research papers that they accept than others.
    • The research community has created a metric called the Impact Factor, to measure how impactful a journal’s research is.
    • A journal’s Impact Factor is the average number of times articles published in the journal in the past two years have been cited in other journals. It is calculated by dividing the total number of citations in a two-year period by the total number of articles published in those two years. The higher the number, the more impactful the journal. In general, an Impact Factor of 10 or higher is considered remarkable, while above 3 is considered very good.
  • Number of times the individual APDA-funded papers were cited.
    • APDA can track how often the research paper is cited in subsequent research, a measure of how important the work has been to other research. As time goes on, the number of citations typically increases. For example, while APDA funded work from 2022 was so far only cited 42 times, APDA funded work from 2020 was cited 1,648 times, and work from 2021 was cited 728 times.

Academic Journals and ADPA-Funded Research

In 2021, 58 APDA-funded research articles were published in academic journals, investigating various aspects of PD, including the cell biology of LRRK2, whether Levodopa response is a valid indicator of PD, and plasma-borne indicators of inflammasome activity in PD patients. These studies were published in various journals with Impact Factors ranging from 1.62 to 41.38 with an average of 7.92. To date, they have been cited by 728 other research articles. 

The number of papers and citations varies from year to year (based on a wide variety of factors).

Here is the citation record for the APDA papers from the past three years

YearNumber of papersImpact factor rangeImpact factor averageNumber of citations

APDA-Funded Research Papers

Here are some specific examples of research papers that APDA has proudly funded

Research Discovers New Role of Alpha Synuclein

In June 2022, Dr. Vikram Khurana, one of APDA’s Geroge C. Cotzias Fellowship awardees published a paper in Cell entitled: The Parkinson’s disease protein alpha-synuclein is a modulator of processing bodies and mRNA stability. We highlighted this important work which described a new function for alpha-synuclein, the protein that abnormally accumulates in the brains of people with PD. Traditionally, alpha-synuclein was known to be involved in transport, or moving materials around the neuron, but this paper showed that it also interacted with structures in the cell called P-bodies, cell machinery that regulates gene expression. The paper also showed evidence that mutations that interfere with P-bodies can increase the risk of PD. The impact factor of the Cell is 66.85. This paper has been cited seven times since publication.

Genetic Predisposition and Exposures to Environmental Toxins Research

In June 2021, the laboratory of Dr. Tim Greenamyre, the medical director of the APDA Center for Advanced Research at University of Pittsburgh and member of APDA’s Scientific Advisory Board published a paper in Neurobiology of Disease entitled: The industrial solvent trichloroethylene induces LRRK2 kinase activity and dopaminergic neurodegeneration in a rat model of Parkinson’s disease. In this paper, the relationship between a genetic predisposition to PD and exposure to an environmental toxin was studied. The impact factor of Neurobiology of Disease is 5.23 and this paper was cited 10 times since publication.

Research on Sex-specific Cognitive Differences in Parkinson Disease

In April 2020, Dr. Elizabeth Disbrow, an APDA Research grantee, published a paper entitled: Sex specific cognitive differences in Parkinson disease in the journal NPJ Parkinson’s Disease. The paper demonstrated that there are cognitive differences between men and women with PD with men having significantly greater executive and processing speed impairments compared to females despite no differences in demographic variables or other measures of disease severity. The impact factor of NPJ Parkinson’s Disease is 9.304 and this paper has been cited 26 times since publication.

We continue to be very mindful of the impact of our funding and make every effort to maximize the effect of the dollars that we give to advance our understanding of PD.  

Tips and Takeaways

  • APDA proudly invests in research that advances our understanding of PD.
  • In addition to the research reports submitted by our grantees, we track the impact of our investment by monitoring the publication of the results of the studies that we fund, the quality of the journals that the results are published in and the number of times the results were cited in other research.
  • APDA continues to fund research because of the generous donations we receive from dedicated people like you. If you would like to support critical work like this, please consider donating of any size today.
  • To learn more about APDA’s research funding, please visit the What We Fund section of our website.

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