CRANIA scientist Dr. Luka Milosevic receives Banting-Dystonia Medical Research Discovery Award

Recipients of the award receive a one-year grant of up to $30,000.

CRANIA scientist Dr. Luka Milosevic has been named recipient of the 2022 Banting-Dystonia Medical Research Discovery Award.

Recipients of this award receive a one-year grant of up to $30,000 that will support research related to understanding the causes, mechanisms, prevention, and treatments which could potentially enable medical breakthroughs and transformative health care advances relating to dystonia.

Dystonia is a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary muscle contractions, repetitive movements, and abnormal fixed postures. 

“I am delighted to receive this award,” said Dr. Milosevic, who is also a scientist at the Krembil Brain Institute and assistant professor with the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto. 

“It will enable us to advance our knowledge of the neural substrates underlying dystonia and to progress the field of neuromodulation therapies for those diagnosed.” 

This grant will fund the development of diagnostic models to identify brain biomarkers associated with dystonia. Dr. Milosevic and his team will use these signals to design a more effective form of deep brain stimulation (DBS) — a therapy used to treat dystonia. 

The current implementation of DBS requires continuous stimulation throughout the day. Dr. Milosevic wants to transition to adaptive stimulation. In this form of DBS patients would only receive stimulation when necessary based on brain signals associated with disease symptoms. 

This will reduce side effects of DBS, improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the therapy, and prolong battery life, which will result in fewer replacement battery surgeries. In order to do this Dr. Milosevic and his team need to identify brain biomarkers associated with dystonia.

This award is funded by the Banting Research Foundation and The Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) Canada. 

The Banting Research Foundation supports young health and biomedical researchers across Canada. DMRF Canada funds medical research toward a cure for dystonia, promotes awareness and education, and supports the well-being of individuals and families affected by the disorder.