Pilot Projects Program


2016 Competition

Mark Aldermann - Early synapse loss in Alzheimer’s disease: In vivo imaging
of microglial engulfment, pruning, and anti-CR3 immunotherapy in awake mice

Laura Cox - Role of the intestinal microbiota in calorie-restriction mediated protection of Alzheimer’s disease

Vivek Gautam - Functional Significance of Neurexin in Alzheimer’s Disease

Genevieve Van de Bittner - Neuron Population Monitoring in Alzheimer's Disease: Human Translation of a Novel PET Imaging Agent

Felipe von Glehn  - Investigation of pathogenic B-cell associated chronic meningitis causing cortical neuronal degeneration in progressive multiple sclerosis

Rakesh Karmacharya - Investigating GW8510 as a potential therapeutic lead for Parkinson’s Disease

Silke Nuber - Shifting Multimers: A New Paradigm for Calpain-Mediated Synucleinopathy

Sabrina Paganoni - Molecular imaging to detect microglia activation in people with PLS

Amar Sahay - Identification of novel pro-neurogenic factors to enhance memory processing during aging

Jason Schapansky - The role of glucocerebrosidase and LRRK2 in α-synuclein metabolism

Bhagat Singh - Identifying the Molecular Mechanisms of Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy

Tejia Zhang - Development and Characterization of Zebrafish Models of Sphingolipidoses

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The pilot projects program funds the best ideas for innovative pilot projects aimed at understanding and developing treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.  This program is a catalyst for enabling major grant applications and to develop stronger ties between HNDC community investigators.  Researchers are encouraged to make better use of HNDC core facilities.



  • Request for proposals circulated through the community
    1. Invite ideas for novel projects that can be started immediately
    2. Projects must be able to be completed within one year
    3. Project requires minimal funding
  • Cross-institutional review panel scores proposals
  • Clinical and translational research are considered
  • Priority is first given to junior investigators
  • Applications are judged on:
    1. Scientific merit
    2. Novelty
    3. Likelihood preliminary data will be generated that could form the basis of a proposal to major funding agencies
    4. Applicant’s ability to access appropriate facilities and has the technical ability to carry out the project
  • Panel meets to discuss the relative merits of the most promising proposals
  • Successful applicants are awarded $20,000-$40,000 of funding

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2015 Competition

Forty-three proposals were received.  On January 20th the program review committee met and selected the following six winners:

Murugaiyan Gopal (BWH) — MicroRNA control of inflammatory Th17 cells in Multiple Sclerosis

Gad A. Marshall (MGH/BWH) — Novel performance-based and subjective complex activities of daily living tests for early AD

Jennifer R. Gatchel (MGH) — Examining the association between neuropsychiatric symptoms and markers of Alzheimer’s disease in cognitively normal older adults

Nikolaos Patsopoulos (BWH) — Multiple genes targeting as therapeutic strategy for multiple sclerosis

U. Shivraj Sohur (MGH) — New-generation pipeline for Parkinson’s disease therapeutics targeted to molecular programs of midbrain dopaminergic neuron subtype identity

Marta Olah (BWH) — Microglia Heterogeneity in Healthy Aging and AD – a Mass Cytometry Study

For a list of previous winners, click here.