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Funding News - Research on Restless Legs Syndrome and Periodic Limb Movement Disorder Sought

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  • The information on this page is for historical and research purposes only.
  • For the most current NINDS funding announcements, please see the NINDS list of Active Funding Initiatives or Follow Us on Twitter for the latest funding news.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the National Institute on Aging (NIA), and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) invite grant applications for research on restless legs syndrome (RLS) and periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD).*

RLS is a common neurological disorder characterized by unpleasant sensations of the legs and an urge to move them for relief. Because symptoms are intensified by inactivity and lying down, RLS patients often have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Left untreated, RLS causes exhaustion and fatigue, which can affect occupational performance, social activities, and family life. An estimated 80 percent of RLS patients also have PLMD, which is characterized by repetitive stereotyped movements of the limbs, primarily the legs, during sleep.

Areas of research interest include, but are not limited to, studies of: the relationship between sensory gating and sleep as it may pertain to RLS; the inter-relationships among circadian rhythms, sleep, central nervous system dopamine levels, and RLS and PLMD; other oscillatory phenomena and possible relationship to PLMD and sensory symptoms in RLS; previously unexplored treatments for RLS and PLMD; and the relationship between opiate sensitivity and sensory symptoms. Also encouraged are studies to: identify biological markers that can be used in diagnostic or treatment studies; elucidate pathways linking RLS and PLMD to other sleep disorders, excessive daytime sleepiness, or metabolic or cardiovascular comorbidities associated with disturbed sleep; distinguish genetic and non-genetic forms and to map, identify, and characterize genes involved in the etiology of RLS-PLMD; develop genetic models of RLS and PLMD in both small and large animals; conduct studies in animals exposed to precipitants of RLS and PLMD; and compare periodic limb movements in RLS and other conditions.

For more information, potential applicants should contact Dr. Merrill Mitler, Program Director, Systems and Cognitive Neuroscience Cluster, NINDS, Neuroscience Center, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 2108, Bethesda, MD 20892; telephone: 301-496-9964; fax: 301-402-2060; e-mail:

*For a more detailed description of this program announcement, please visit the NIH web site at: