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August 31, 2006

Pitt named Parkinson's research center

Pitt has been named an American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) Advanced Center for Parkinson’s Disease Research, a designation that places it in a group with eight other leading institutions in the United States.

J. Timothy Greenamyre, UPMC Endowed Professor of Neurology and chief, movement disorders division at the medical school, will direct the center and chair its executive committee. Greenamyre, an internationally renowned Parkinson’s disease researcher, was recruited to Pitt’s faculty in 2004 to direct the Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases (PIND).

As an APDA advanced research center, the University will receive $90,000 per year for five years.

The grant will support both clinical and basic science research, with studies likely to focus on developing methods for early Parkinson’s disease diagnosis, characterizing the swallowing and respiratory problems of Parkinson’s, understanding how iron accumulates in the brain and evaluating gene transfer as a way to stop the neurodegeneration process of Parkinson’s.

In addition to the $450,000 grant, the APDA also awarded one-year $50,000 research grants to Sarah Berman, assistant professor of neurology, and Rehana Leak, a research associate in neurology. Berman will study mitochondrial dynamics in vulnerability and protection of aging in Parkinson’s disease, and Leak will research preconditioning-induced neuroprotection in models of Parkinson’s.

The mission of PIND is to transform cutting-edge science into novel therapies and diagnostics that benefit individuals with neurodegenerative diseases.

The other APDA centers are at Boston University School of Medicine; Emory University School of Medicine; UCLA School of Medicine; the University of Alabama at Birmingham; University of Virginia Medical Center; UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and Washington University Medical Center.

Filed under: Feature,Volume 39 Issue 1

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