2009-2016 Research Grant Recipients

These grants are selected on scientific merit by reviewers from around the world. CPARF grant payments typically begin in the calendar year after the grant round, so a grant made in the 2016 round begins funding in 2017.

Thanks to your support, we can continue to fund the best and brightest US-based researchers to change what’s possible for cerebral palsy.

Dr. Donna Ferriero

University of California San Francisco

Grant 2016

Metabolomic Identification of At-Risk Newborns

The ability to recognize babies who are at continued risk for brain damage will enable us to design more effective therapies and prevent the lifelong consequences of cerebral palsy. Using a newly developed, non-invasive imaging technique called “hyperpolarized carbon-13 MRI”, we’re urgently assessing newborns at risk of CP by looking at their immediate metabolic state. This technology and methodology allows us to see rapid changes in the metabolic pathways of tissue that can lead to injury and provide immediate feedback and identify [patients as risk of brain damage.

Zinaida Vexler, PhD

University of California San Francisco

Grant 2016

Mesenchymal Stem Cells (Derived from Extracellular Vesicles) for Repair after Neonatal Stroke

More than half of all children with cerebral palsy are born full term, and perinatal stroke is one of the major causes of CP for this population; currently with no effective preventative treatments. Stem cell therapy, particularly Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSC), has emerged as a potential treatment for many brain diseases, injuries and conditions, including neonatal brain injury cause by stroke.

However, at this time, the mechanisms and long-term effects of MSC therapy are not fully understood. In this innovative investigation, we will determine if extracellular vesicles released from Mesenchymal Stem Cells carry the long-term, therapeutic effects of MSC in an animal model of neonatal stroke and cerebral palsy, the first step in preparation for human clinical trials.

Jane Huggins, PhD

University of Michigan

Grant 2016

Innovative Assessment of Receptive Language in People With Cerebral Palsy: A Comparison of Eye-Gaze Interface and Brain-Computer Interface Test Administration

Accurate cognitive assessment of people with cerebral palsy (CP) is necessary to target interventions for communication, social participation, and education. Current assessments require speech or motor ability, so are unsuitable for people with significant physical disability.

Some assessments can be adapted for Eye-Gaze Interface (EGI) (requiring only eye movements) and Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) (requiring no movement). These interfaces are promising options for cognitive assessment. This study compares EGI with BCI in administering a vocabulary test to determine which more effectively accommodates people with multiple impairments. Children and adults with CP in the United States and Australia will compare the interfaces.

Our long-term goal is to create accessible versions of established and standardized tests for people whose speech and physical impairments prevent standard assessment.

Dr. Vedant Kulkarni

Shriners Hospital for Children — Northern California

Grant 2016

Smartphone App to Enable Community-Based Hip Surveillance for Children With Cerebral Palsy

One in three children with cerebral palsy may develop progressive problems with hip development that can lead to pain and challenges with mobility and seating. A regular schedule of hip examinations and XRAYS, called a hip surveillance program, has been shown to reduce and even eliminate painful hip conditions in countries with centralized medical systems. This project aims to test a free smartphone app called “HipScreen” (www.hipscreen.org) to enable practitioners to enact a hip surveillance program in a broader range of global medical contexts.


Terence Sanger, MD, MPH

University of Southern California


Grant 2016

A New Method for Identifying Optimal Targets for Deep Brain Stimulation in Children With Cerebral Palsy and Secondary Dystonia

Children with cerebral palsy and other acquired or genetic disorders can develop severe movement disorders including dystonia, chorea, or myoclonus.  These disorders have minimal effective medical treatments, and children can end up trapped within their bodies, unable to move, speak, or communicate because they do not have control of their muscles.  Deep-brain stimulation (DBS) can treat some children with movement disorders, using a wire inserted into the brain, connected to an implanted pacemaker, to block the abnormal signals.

DBS has the ability to cure dystonia, and to allow children to walk or communicate for the first time in their lives. But for most children we do not know where in the brain to put the wire, and as a result many children only receive partial or minimal benefit, even after such a complex neurosurgical procedure.

Associate Professor Anna Penn

Children’s National Medical Center, Washington DC

Grant 2014

Protection and repair of preterm cerebellum by allopregnanolone

This project combines clinical and scientific research aimed at developing new evidence-based strategies to prevent brain injury leading to cerebral palsy (CP) in premature infants.

Associate Professor Deborah Thorpe

The University of North Carolina

Grant 2014

Testing novel measures of community function and participation in adults with cerebral palsy

This project investigates the relationship between GPS measures of community integration, accessibility, and function for adults with CP in Australia and the US. Participants will use accelerometers to measure activity intensity and GPS trackers to capture amount of time away from home, distance travelled, and locations visited for seven days. GIS technology will integrate GPS travel data to create maps of activity locations. Qualitative interviews will assess the importance of and experience of activities and barriers to integration for adults with CP.

Associate Professor Hannah Glass

The University of California, San Francisco

Grant 2014

Improving Early Identification of CP in Term Neonates Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging and General Movements Assessment

Cerebral palsy (CP) can be identified and treated early in infancy, however the diagnosis is usually not made until late in the 2nd year of life. The aim of this proposal is to determine the accuracy of MRI and the General Movements Assessment for early identification of CP, as well as pattern and severity of disability among high risk term infants. Early identification will allow implementation of interventional therapies at a time of high brain plasticity, and alter the developmental trajectory.

Dr. An Massaro

Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, D.C.

Grant 2013


This study will look at identifying biomarkers of brain injury and inflammation in perinatal hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy.

Dr. Alexander Hoon

John Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland

Grant 2013


Quantitative Mapping of the Basal Ganglia and Related Structure In Children with Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy.

Professor Nigel Paneth

Michigan State University

Grant 2013


This award will help Nigel with his ongoing investigations of the differences in gene expression in blood shortly after birth between children later diagnosed with cerebral palsy and children without cerebral palsy.

Dr. Yvonne Wu

The Regents of The University Of California, on behalf of its San Francisco campus

Grant 2012


Neonatal Erythropoietin and therapeutic Hypothermia – 2 (NEAT 2).

Dr. Henry Chambers

The Regents of the University of California, San Diego

Grant 2009

One World CP Website development

A website devoted to linking professional organizations and their members, epidemiologists and grassroot organisations to improve communication and foster cooperation in research and effect policy and funding changes in countries throughout the world.

Dr. Yvonne Wu

The Regents of The University Of California, on behalf of its San Francisco campus

Grant 2009

Genetic basis of cerebral palsy in term and near term infants

Associate Professor Yvonne Wu and colleagues from the University of California, San Francisco are examining the genetic makeup of a large group of children with cerebral palsy. They will choose 12 genes which seem to be important in causing inflammation and problems with blood clotting, and see whether they are associated with cerebral palsy.

They will perform a detailed analysis of a gene known as the interleukin-6 gene, which research suggests might be important in the development of cerebral palsy and try to match particular brain abnormalities, as seen in CT scans and MRIs, and with particular genetic traits.