Illinois Researcher Receives $130,000 for Ataxia Research

Funded by American Brain Foundation and National Ataxia Foundation

PHILADELPHIA – An Illinois researcher will receive $130,000 to continue her research into Fragile X-associated Tremor/Ataxia Syndrome (FXTAS)—is an inherited degenerative disorder and a significant cause of adult-onset ataxia—through the Clinical Research Training Fellowship in Ataxia funded by the American Brain Foundation and National Ataxia Foundation. The award was presented in Philadelphia during the American Academy of Neurology’s 66th Annual Meeting, the world’s largest meeting of neurologists. Padmaja Vittal, MD, MS, a first-year fellow at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, received this award for her investigation into the role of antisense FMR1 in the development of Fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome. “The goal of this research is to evaluate different genetic patterns in patients with Fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia Syndrome, an inherited disease causing tremor, problems with walking and memory issues,” said Vittal. “It is estimated that 1.6/2000 men in the United States are at risk for developing FXTAS and this number is lower for women. The hope is that this research would allow us to predict if patients will develop symptoms of the disease or remain symptom free. There is a critical need for enhanced screening tools to help families of patients suffering from this disorder, so timely treatment can be implemented.” The two-year award will consist of an annual salary of $55,000 plus $10,000 per year for tuition to support formal education in clinical research methodology. Clinical research is the fundamental transition stage between discovery and treatment. Clinical research provides the scientific basis for all forms of care, addresses patient and caregiver needs and is the backbone for drug development and cost-effectiveness studies needed to improve lives. Fellowships provide recipients with up to three years of “protected time,” with salary that allows them to continue important research projects. Added Vittal, “It is indeed an honor to receive this award. It represents an exciting opportunity to conduct clinical research and make a contribution to the field of ataxia. This award will be a springboard to my future career as a clinician scientist and I am grateful to be supported by the American Brain Foundation and the National Ataxia Foundation.” Learn more about ataxia at About the American Brain Foundation: The American Brain Foundation supports crucial research and education to discover causes, improved treatments, and cures for the brain and other nervous system diseases. One in six people is affected by brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, autism, and epilepsy. For more information about the American Brain Foundation and how you can support research, visit or visit us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube.

About the National Ataxia Foundation: The National Ataxia Foundation (NAF) is a membership supported, 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization established in 1957, dedicated to serving persons with ataxia and their families. The Foundation's primary mission is to support promising ataxia research and to provide vital programs and services for ataxia families. More information about NAF and ataxia can be found at


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