Request for Information (RFI): Input on Research to Address Environmental Risks for Parkinson's Disease

Notice Number:


Key Dates

Release Date: September 22, 2014

Response Date:  October 14, 2014    

Related Announcements


Issued by

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)


Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder estimated to affect 500,000 people in the United States, with about 60,000 Americans being diagnosed with the disease each year.  While the exact cause of PD is unknown, genetic and environmental factors alone account for only a small fraction of cases.  Current popular opinion is that the interactions between genetic susceptibility and environmental exposures are associated with much greater risk, and that the study of both factors may lead to promising new targets for intervention and prevention.

In January of 2014, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) sponsored the conference “Parkinson’s Disease 2014: Advancing Research Improving Lives” (PD2014), which resulted in prioritized recommendations for advancing basic, translational and clinical research in the field.  (The final version of these recommendations can be found here: ). To more fully explore the role of the environment in the etiology of PD, NIEHS and NINDS are planning a follow-up meeting on November 3-4, 2014.  The purpose of this meeting is to complement the PD2014 recommendations by focusing on environmental contributors and their interplay with genetic susceptibility in the development and expression of PD.

Information Requested

NIEHS and NINDS are seeking input into high priority research areas for addressing the role of the environment in PD research and the translation of findings to prevention and intervention strategies. 

For the purposes of this Request for Information (RFI), the environment is defined broadly to include any factors that are non-genetic in nature.  This can include environmental chemicals, biological agents, pharmaceuticals, nutritional factors, and psychosocial and behavioral stressors.

This RFI aims to gather input on (1) research gaps in identifying environmental risks, and their interaction with genetic susceptibility, in PD etiology, and (2) potential opportunities to speed translation of findings to development of more effective prevention and intervention strategies.  Responses are being sought from all interested parties including:

  • Institutes and organizations with established programs in neurodegenerative diseases
  • The broad extramural research community of basic and clinical/epidemiology investigators in relevant areas, including toxicologists and environmental health scientists
  • Scientific societies
  • Educators
  • Health professionals
  • Policy makers
  • Public and private stakeholders
  • General public

Please indicate from the list above which group(s) apply in your response.

The NIH invites specific and detailed input regarding, but not limited to, the topics below:

  • Identification of specific cellular/neural targets, pathways and corresponding mechanisms underlying the impact of environmental factors in the development of PD.  Examples might include the role of environmental toxicants in the microglial proinflammatory response, mitochondrial dynamics, DNA methylation and other epigenomic mechanisms regulating transcription of PD-associated genes.
  • Novel approaches and technologies that could advance our understanding of environmental contributors to the etiology of PD.  Examples may include induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), the development and validation of persistent biomarkers of exposure, improved nonhuman models of understudied aspects (e.g., nonmotor symptoms, progression) of PD and promising collaborative and analytic strategies for joint consideration of genes and environment in large scale human PD studies.
  • Facilitating clinical research, translation and public health intervention/prevention strategies that arise from knowledge of environmental risk and protective factors for PD.  Issues of interest may include how we can improve the bidirectional exchange of information to/from clinicians and basic scientists, as well as approaches to translate what we know about the association of exposures and PD risk to preventative action/public policy.

Submitting a Response

All responses must be submitted via email to by October 14, 2014.  It is not necessary to respond to all of the topics above.

Responses to this RFI are voluntary. Please do not include any proprietary, classified, confidential, or sensitive information in your response. The NIH will use the information submitted in response to this RFI at its discretion and will not provide comments to any responder's submission. The collected information will be reviewed by NIH staff, may appear in reports, and may be shared publicly on an NIH website.

The Government reserves the right to use any non-proprietary technical information in summaries of the state of the science, and any resultant solicitation(s). The NIH may use the information gathered by this RFI to inform the development of future funding opportunity announcements.

This RFI is for information and planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation on the part of the Federal Government, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), or individual NIH Institutes and Centers. No basis for claims against the U.S. Government shall arise as a result of a response to this request for information or from the Government’s use of such information


Please direct all inquiries to:

Jonathan A. Hollander, PhD
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Telephone:  919-541-9467

Beth-Anne Sieber, PhD
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Telephone: 301- 496-5680