The Muscular Dystrophy Association has awarded $372,000 in research funding to Dr. Virginia Kimonis of UCI’s School of Medicine to support her efforts to find cures for hereditary muscle diseases. Kimonis, chief of the Department of Pediatrics’ human genetics & metabolism division, is trying to define the root cause of hereditary inclusion body myopathy, a genetic disease that causes progressive muscle weakness. The work builds on her discovery of a mutated form of a protein called VCP in all HIBM patients. VCP mutations have also been found in Paget’s disease and frontotemporal dementia. In addition, Kimonis will study whether physical exercise accelerates or decelerates the progression of muscle weakness in HIBM. She is one of 38 researchers receiving multiyear awards from the MDA.