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Emory Parkinson’s Disease Research

Apda Information & Referral Center At Emory University School Of Medicine

Doctor at Emory leads groundbreaking research on Parkinsons disease

The Information and Referral Center at Emory University School of Medicine serves as a resource to the local community for referrals and education on Parkinsons disease. As a part of the countrys largest grass roots organization providing the support, education, and research that will help everyone impacted by Parkinsons disease live life to the fullest.

Services provided by the APDA I& R center are as follows:

  • Provides information and resources about Parkinsons disease to patients, their families, healthcare professionals and the community.
  • Statewide Support Groups
  • Enhances public education and awareness of Parkinsons disease.

Contact Information

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Bringing Structure To Chaos

One of the many challenges in understanding neurodegenerative diseases is harmonizing data from diverse populations. Emory University has more than 50,000 patient encounters annually in its neurology clinics. Its probably closer to 100,000 if you look at some of our affiliated sites, Levey said. Documenting neurodegenerative diseases within that environment can be challenging.

Ive got the worlds largest group of doctors that work for us that take care of Parkinsons disease. Theyve discovered breakthrough treatments, Levey said. And every one of those 24 or 25 doctors who sees patients documents things in their own way.

That fact makes it difficult to do simple things such as chart the rate of Parkinsons or Alzheimers over time. And yet, theyre some of the best doctors in the world. People youd want to see. Theyve done the examination carefully, but theyre not documenting things in a structured way.

Emory University began prioritizing structuring data related to Alzheimers clinical assessments 15 years ago. And its a goldmine because now we have blood, spinal fluid and brain imaging data, Levey said. The partnership with Genuity Science further build on that foundation, Levey said. Were going to be able to have a real-world population where we can integrate all these data sets.

One answer to the problem is to find a single institution integrating large volumes of detailed data for neurodegenerative disease.

Alzheimers Disease And Other Dementias

Symptoms of cognitive and behavioral impairment are perhaps the most devastating of all medical conditions. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimers disease a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain that results in loss of memory and other intellectual abilities. Nearly one-half of individuals over age 85 have Alzheimers disease! Since the geriatric population is the fasting growing segment of society, it is expected that 14 million Americans will have Alzheimers by the middle of the next century unless a cure or prevention is found. Already, Alzheimers disease costs US society more than $100 billion annually. In addition to Alzheimers disease, many other neurodegenerative disorders can cause dementia, including Lewy body disease , frontotemporal dementia, and strokes.

The causes of these disorders are as yet poorly understood. However, in recent years there has been tremendous research progress, and for the first time, the molecular basis of these conditions is becoming clearer and treatment opportunities are increasing. Emory investigators study various aspects of these conditions, ranging from genetic studies to identify new genes that confer disease susceptibility, to cell biological and pharmacological studies in cell culture and experimental animals, to development of new diagnostic methods, to clinical trials of promising new approaches to help treat symptoms and slow disease progression.

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Van Andel Institute Others Aim To Speed Up Parkinsons Disease Research With $63 Million Grant

Dr. Hong-yuan Chu is leading a Van Andel Institute research team exploring treatments for Parkinsons disease.

GRAND RAPIDS, MI Van Andel Institute researchers and others in a collaborative project are using a $6.3 million grant to speed up research on Parkinsons disease.

Emory University in Atlanta received the grant from Aligning Science Across Parkinsons Collaborative Research Network, or ASAP, which is fostering collaboration and resources to better understand the underlying causes of the disease.

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Trailblazer Award For Mr Monitoring Brain Temperature


In the emergency department, the temperature of the brain is critical information after someone has a stroke or cardiac arrest, and even more important during treatment. Yet it is difficult for doctors to accurately or directly measure brain temperature.

Magnetic resonance imaging technology being developed at Emory University School of Medicine could provide more accurate measurements. A team of researchers has received a three-year, $400,000 grant from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering to monitor brain temperature while patients are undergoing therapeutic hypothermia after cardiac arrest. Therapeutic hypothermia, or controlled cooling, is a treatment used to protect the brain after loss of blood flow. While cooling is used in many hospitals, it is not widely implemented nor has it been optimized in terms of dosage or timing.

The project is led by Candace Fleischer, PhD, an assistant professor of radiology and imaging sciences at Emory. The grant is part of NIBIBs Trailblazer program, which is designed for early stage investigators to pursue research in new directions.

Our goals are to develop a new method for non-invasive brain temperature monitoring, and to demonstrate the ability to measure brain-body temperature differences in cardiac arrest patients during therapeutic cooling, says Fleischer, who is also a member of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory.

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Emory University In Atlanta Ga

The Research Center of Excellence is part of the Emory Cognitive Neurology/Memory Clinic and the Emory Movement Disorders Clinic. These clinics provide evaluation and treatment of mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimers disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, Parkinsons disease, Parkinsons disease dementia, and related disorders.

The Emory Movement Disorders Clinic has a dedicated full-time social worker who provides a range of services to assist patients and families. These services include assistance with assisted living placement, identification of senior day programs and respite programs, handicapped parking, coordination with all aspects of the disability process, and processing of related paperwork.

Emory has a range of relevant patient and family education and support groups including a Parkinsons disease support group, a support group for atypical parkinsonism, and The Early Memory Loss Group which is an eight-week class designed for people facing the many challenges of dealing with early memory impairment.

The Emory Udall Center of Excellence for Parkinsons Disease Research, in collaboration with the American Parkinsons Disease Association , organizes or participates in local PD activities. These include GA APDA monthly educational meetings, GA APDA sponsored exercise classes and GA PD Gladiators as well as local awareness and fundraising events.

Daniel Huddleston, MD

Clinic name: The Emory Movement Disorders ClinicContact name: Kelsey Tucker

Treatments For Parkinson’s Disease And Related Disorders

While there is no known cure for Parkinson’s disease, there are medications and surgical procedures ablation and gamma knife surgeries) designed to improve symptoms. Physical, occupational, and speech therapy may also be beneficial. Our team of physicians and nurse practitioners will work with you to determine which course of disease management is best.

Watch the following segment from Your Fantastic Mind, which focuses on therapies for Parkinsons disease:

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Huntington’s Disease And Related Disorders

Huntington’s disease is an inherited neurodegenerativedisorder caused by a single gene mutation. For every parent with HD, each childhas a 50% risk of inheriting the gene mutation and getting the disease. Thereare about 35,000 people with HD in the US and many more at risk. Usually, symptomsstart in middle age but can occur in children or late in life. HD ischaracterized by progressive problems with abnormal movements, poor coordination, psychiatric problems, and dementia.The involuntary movements are called chorea, from the Greek word for”dance. Chorea is also seen in some metabolic diseases and otherinherited disorders.

Thanks to investigators and patient advocates, this raredisease has had a huge impact on science and medicine. Work on HD founded the fieldof positional cloning – mapping out disease-causing genes. HD research revealedan entirely new class of diseases with similar genetic mutations. Some of thesediseases, such as spinocerebellar ataxias , have symptoms similar to HD,and are also seen in Emory movement disorders clinics. HD investigators alsohelped establish genetic testing protocols and are at the forefront of ethicaldebates about genetic testing for late-onset disorders. As researchers map outcomplex genetic risks for common disorders like Alzheimers disease, this debatewill have increasing relevance for many more patients and families.

Parkinsons Disease Research Centers Of Excellence

A Patient’s Struggle with Parkinson’s Disease

The mission of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke is to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease. As a part of this mission, the NINDS supports basic, translational and clinical research on Parkinsons disease , a complex neurodegenerative disorder that progressively impairs the control of purposeful movement.

The NINDS Centers of Excellence program for PD research was developed in honor of former Congressman Morris K. Udall of Arizona, who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1961. Representative Udall was diagnosed with PD in 1979 and remained active in Congress until his retirement in 1991. On November 13, 1997, the President of the United States signed the Morris K. Udall Parkinsons Disease Research Act of 1997 into law .

In 1997, the NINDS released a Request for Applications to establish the first Morris K. Udall Centers of Excellence in Parkinsons Disease Research. Udall Centers utilize a team-based, interdisciplinary research approach to elucidate the fundamental causes of PD as well as to improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients with Parkinsons and related neurodegenerative disorders.

The NINDS is committed to continuing and enhancing the tradition of scientific excellence fostered by the Udall Centers. For further information, contact .

NINDS Udall Centers of Excellence for Parkinsons Disease Research

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The Earliest Spot For Alzheimers Blues

The Emory laboratories of Keqiang Ye and David Weinshenker recently published a paper on ApoE, the most common genetic risk factor for late-onset Alzheimers. The findings, published in Acta Neuropathologica, suggest how the risk-conferring form of ApoE may exacerbate pathology in the locus coeruleus.

The LC, part of the brainstem, is thought to be the first region of the brain where pathological signs predicting future cellular degeneration show up. The LC gets its name from its blue color it regulates attention, arousal, stress responses and cognition. The LC is also the major site for production of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine.

ApoE, which packages and transports cholesterol, was known to modulate the buildup of the toxic protein fragment beta-amyloid, but this proposed mechanism goes through Tau. Tau is the other pesky protein in Alzheimers, forming neurofibrillary tangles that are the earliest signs of degeneration in the brain. Tau pathology correlates better with dementia and cognitive impairments than beta-amyloid, which several proposed Alzheimers therapeutics act on.

The Emory results make the case for inhibiting the enzyme AEP , also known as delta-secretase, as an approach for heading off Alzheimers. AEP is the Tau-munching troublemaker, and is activated by the norepinephrine byproduct DOPEGAL

An alternative approach may be to inhibit monoamine oxidase enzymes several old-school antidepressants are available that accomplish this.

Human Activity Recognition To Track Freezing Of Gait In Parkinsons Disease

PI: J. Lucas McKay, Biomedical Informatics/Neurology Co-PIs: Gari Clifford, Biomedical Informatics/Biomedical Engineering , Stewart Factor, Neurology

One of the most troubling and difficult to treat symptoms of Parkinsons disease is Freezing of Gait . This study will use modern computer vision human activity recognition approaches to directly measure FOG in video recordings of PD patients with and without FOG collected and labeled by experts.

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Parkinson’s Disease And Other Movement Disorders

Parkinson’s disease is a common neurodegenerative disease of aging, producing progressive immobility, tremor, gait problems, and often neuropsychiatric symptoms. The disease affects ~1.5 million Americans while most of these are elderly, about 15% of patients are diagnosed before age 50. Other neurodegenerative diseases which have similar clinical or pathological features to Parkinson’s disease include progressive supranuclear palsy, Lewy body dementia, Shy-Drager syndrome, essential tremor, dystonia, corticobasal degeneration, and multiple system atrophy.

Emory faculty are world renowned for their major contributions to Parkinson’s disease research. The Emory investigators listed below study a variety of aspects of Parkinson’s disease, ranging from genetic and environmental causes, to cell biological and pharmacological studies in culture and in animals, to development of new diagnostic methods, to clinical trials of promising new medications and pioneering surgical approaches for medically refractory patients, such as pallidotomy and deep brain stimulation. More than a dozen faculty specialists provide state-of-the-art care for thousands of patients with Parkinson’s disease and related conditions annually. The Parkinson’s programs have been awarded several Center grants from the National Institutes of Health and private foundations .

$66m Grant Creates Emory Center To Study Parkinson’s Disease


From Staff Reports

Emory will receive more than $1 million each year for the next five years to support a Morris K. Udall Center of Excellence in Parkinsons Disease Research.

The goal of Emory Udall Center will be to develop more effective Parkinsons disease treatments that have fewer side effects.

The center will focus on accelerating progress by deepening researchers understanding of the pathophysiology of the disease.

The emphasis will be on integrating cutting-edge collaborative research, expert training of researchers and clinicians, and open dialogue with the general public.

PD, a complex neurodegenerative disorder, affects more than 1 million people in the United States and is the second-most prevalent neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimers disease.

PD is characterized by gradually progressive symptoms, such as tremor, slowness of movement, rigidity, impaired balance and nervous system problems, and cognitive decline.

Thomas Wichmann, professor of neurology at Emory and a researcher at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, is the principal investigator of the center.

Currently, more than 45 basic science and clinical faculty members at Emory study PD. Their expertise ranges from anatomy and electrophysiology to pharmacology and toxicology.

The grant, from the National Institutes of Health, will facilitate closer interactions among these researchers as well as colleagues at Vanderbilt University.

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Parkinsons Study Receives $6m Grant

Courtesy Van Andel Institute

Van Andel Institute scientists will benefit from a grant to further a Parkinsons disease research project led by a team from Emory University.

The three-year, $6.3 million grant from the Aligning Science Across Parkinsons Collaborative Research Network will further the teams studies into motor cortical disturbances caused by Parkinsons disease . The grant was issued by ASAPs implementation partner, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinsons Research.

The team consists of researchers from Emory University, VAI, the State University of New York Downstate in Brooklyn and Inscopix in Palo Alto, California.

Dr. Hong-yuan Chu of VAI will head the institutes team of researchers on the project led by Dr. Thomas Wichmann, associate director for scientific programs at Emorys Yerkes National Primate Research Center. The team also is led by other researchers from Emory/Yerkes.

The coordinated study will explore motor disturbances caused by PD, providing the team a better understanding of potential treatment methods that may directly target the brains cortical nerve cells. The cerebral cortex plays a significant role in controlling movement, as dopamine produced by brain cells is instrumental in movement coordination. The death of these dopamine-producing brain cells leads to the motor disturbances commonly associated with the disease.

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Transcutaneous Spinal Cord Stimulation For Freezing Of Gait

PI: Svjetlana Miocinovic, Neurology Co-PIs: Nicholas Au Yong, Neurology, , Stewart Factor, Neurology

Freezing of gait is a common symptom in patients with Parkinsons disease where the ability to walk is abruptly interrupted, often described as if their feet were suddenly glued to the floor. This study will examine if lumbar transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation , utilizing electrodes on the skin surface to deliver electrical stimulation to the spinal cord, can be used to improve walking and reduce or abort FOG episodes.

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Diagnosing Parkinsons Disease And Related Disorders

The first step in diagnosing PD and its related disorders is a full neurological examination with a focus on the patients movement, balance and coordination. Because symptoms of Parkinsons disease are shared with many other conditions, it is critical that the doctor diagnosing Parkinsons disease is an expert in the field of neurology.

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Meet The Scientist Behind The Science: Dr Hong

Neuro Talk: Top 3 Parkinsons Disease Research Areas We Fund

Van Andel Institutes Dr. Hong-yuan Chu is parsing the brains intricate communications network in search of insights into how to combat Parkinsons disease.

He hopes that by identifying the problems that contribute to Parkinsons, we can find ways to slow or stop the diseases movement- and non-movement-related symptoms.

VAI Voice caught up with Dr. Chu to chat about his research, why he became a scientist and how one of his favorite discoveries helped change our understanding of Parkinsons.

Q: What do you study?

Dr. Chu: Interconnected cells in our brain form a neural communication network, which controls a variety of behaviors we undertake as part of daily life, such as walking, writing and playing instruments. At the same time, problems with this neural network often lead to neurological disorders such as Parkinsons disease. The research in my laboratory aims to understand the neural network dysfunction associated with a spectrum of Parkinsons symptoms not only movement-related impairments but also cognitive and psychiatric symptoms. In addition, we are also interested in the role of neural network dysfunction in the progressive degeneration and loss of midbrain dopaminergic neurons, the hallmark pathology in Parkinsons. These important cells produce a chemical messenger called dopamine, which has many important jobs including helping control our ability to move. The death of these important cells and subsequent loss of dopamine lead to Parkinsons symptoms.

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