ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Scientists at the University at Albany (UAlbany) have been awarded a $2.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to advance research to cure myotonic dystrophy (DM). The grant comes as UAlbany prepares to mark the second International Myotonic Dystrophy Awareness Day on September 15.

DM is the most common form of adult-onset muscular dystrophy, as it impacts roughly one in 2,100 New Yorkers. DM affects not only muscle tissue, but also the heart, eyes and brain.

“The symptoms of myotonic dystrophy are extremely varied — in terms of body systems affected, age of disease onset and symptom severity,” says Andrew Berglund, director of the College of Arts and Sciences’ RNA Institute. “This complexity makes diagnosis challenging. And while myotonic dystrophy is familiar within the neurological community, it is largely unknown among general practitioners. This is why it often takes up to 8-10 years to reach a DM diagnosis; many doctors simply do not recognize the signs.”

UAlbany is quickly taking shape as a centerpiece for DM research. More work is looking to be completed towards the creation of a DM research center at UAlbany as well, as U.S. Representative Paul Tonko secured $1 million in federal funding towards the project earlier this year.