December 19, 1997

VUMC designated as National Parkinson Foundation Center

VUMC designated as National Parkinson Foundation Center

Vanderbilt University Medical Center has been designated as a National Parkinson Foundation Center, one of only 50 such centers worldwide, including those in Europe and Asia.

The National Parkinson Foundation (NPF) is the largest private organization dedicated to promoting research aimed at uncovering the causes and pathophysiology of the disorder and expanding treatment options for parkinsonism.

"It is an honor for Vanderbilt University Medical Center to be chosen as a National Parkinson's Foundation site," said Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs. "Such a designation truly reflects the high quality of research being done here."

The NPF supports research by forming centers of excellence at research institutions and by awarding investigator-initiated grants to individual researchers.

With the formation of the NPF center, researchers and clinicians at VUMC will have a central organizational structure to expand their work and join in a series of preclinical and clinical studies.

"The advantages of becoming a National Parkinson's Foundation center are enormous," said Dr. Ariel Deutch, professor of Psychiatry and director of the NPF center at Vanderbilt. "I think this will help form a central focus for the investigators, one that will help researchers interact."

Ongoing research projects in Genetics, Neurology, Psychiatry, Pharmacology, Pathology, and the Center for Molecular Neuroscience will benefit from the NPF center's placement at VUMC.

"VUMC has a vibrant neuroscience community that is equal to any research center in the world. There are substantial research efforts into neurodegenerative disorders in general and Parkinson's disease in specific," said Deutch.

One challenge facing researchers when examining Parkinson's Disease patients is that many different disorders present in similar ways. There are, however, common themes in the degeneration seen in Parkinson's disease and those in other neurodegenerative disorders.

"The NPF is committed not only to fighting actual Parkinson's Disease but the related disorders as well," said Deutch.

Dr. David Robertson, director of the Clinical Research Center, will also be included in the NPF center to focus on Shy-Drager disease, a disorder that shares many features with Parkinson's disease.

"In addition, VUMC has an excellent Movement Disorder Clinic, headed by Dr. Thomas L. Davis, assistant professor of Neurology," Deutch said.