(Sioux Falls, SD) – The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Michael Kruer, MD, of the Sanford Children’s Health Research Center, a five-year, $860,000 grant to support his research on genetic forms of juvenile Parkinson’s disease and dystonia.
The grant is one piece of Sanford’s growing Pediatric Movement Disorders Clinic, which is led by Dr. Kruer and designed to connect children with some of the most challenging conditions to cutting-edge clinical care and research.
Juvenile Parkinson’s disease begins under the age of 21 and can affect children as young as 5. It is a neurodegenerative disorder that progressively destroys the neurons in the brain. Initial symptoms can include rigidity, stiffness, resting tremors, slow movements and impaired speech and motor skills. Although rare, study of this aggressive form of Parkinson’s disease has spurred major advances in the understanding of the biological basis of adult-onset Parkinson’s.
Dystonia is a movement disorder that causes involuntary contractions of muscles. It can affect men, women and children of all ages and backgrounds and may target a single muscle or the entire body. Symptoms often begin during childhood and can worsen over time. A many as 500,000 people in the United States suffer from dystonia, which has no cure and is the most common movement disorder behind essential tremors and Parkinson’s disease.
The NIH grant will allow Dr. Kruer, a geneticist and movement disorders researcher at Sanford Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls, to continue his exploration of the molecular basis of these diseases through the use of yeast and mouse models.
“These studies will provide us with insight into the fundamental biology of Parkinson’s disease and dystonia and help us understand why crucial neuroprotective mechanisms fail,” said Dr. Kruer. “This has applicability to millions of people worldwide.”
Dr. Kruer is a pediatric neurologist and associate scientist at the Sanford Children’s Health Research Center. He was recognized nationally for his research last year by the Child Neurology Foundation.
About Sanford Research/USD
Sanford Research/USD is a non-profit research organization formed between Sanford Health and the University of South Dakota. Sanford Health is an integrated health system headquartered in Fargo, ND and Sioux Falls, SD and represents the largest, rural, not-for-profit healthcare system in the nation with a presence in 111 communities, eight states and three countries. In 2007, a transformational gift of $400 million by Denny Sanford provided for an expansion of children’s and research initiatives, specifically finding a cure for type 1 diabetes, and has given Sanford Research significant momentum in its goal of becoming one of the premiere research institutions in the United States and the world. Most recently, a subsequent gift of $100 million by Mr. Sanford has paved the way to establish Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Research.
With a team of more than 200 researchers, Sanford Research comprises several research centers, including Children’s Health Research, Edith Sanford Breast Cancer, Cancer Biology, Center for Health Outcomes and Prevention, Sanford Applied Biosciences and the National Institute for Athletic Health and Performance (NIAHP).