Dr. Revilla Awarded the James J. and Joan A. Gardner Family Center Chair for Excellence in Parkinson’s

People pose for photo

From left, James J. and Joan A. Gardner with Fredy J. Revilla, MD, at the Cincinnati ShakeUp for Parkinson’s fundraiser in April 2012. Photo by UC Academic Health Center Communications Services.

Fredy J. Revilla, MD, Director of the James J. and Joan A. Gardner Family Center at the University of Cincinnati Gardner Neuroscience Institute, one of four institutes affiliated with the UC College of Medicine and UC Health, has been awarded the James J. and Joan A. Gardner Family Center for Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Chair.

The chair, established by the Gardner family with a generous donation, is not something in which Dr. Revilla will recline. Rather, it is an endowment whose proceeds are intended to fuel creativity and new directions in research. The endowment is housed within the UC Department of Neurology, which manages the principal (the original sum) and distributes proceeds (from dividends, capital gains or interest) to researchers. Funds are not withdrawn to cover operating expenses.

“This is a tremendous honor,” said Dr. Revilla. “We are privileged to be stewards of this generous gift from Joan and James Gardner. It is a gift that will continue giving, as we use proceeds to explore new avenues of research.”

Best of all, endowment funding like the Gardner Family Chair will persist during periods when government-funded research grants are difficult to acquire. Academic health centers are currently in such a period, with funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) relatively stagnant and, with inflation, actually below what it was a decade ago. At the same time, the costs of running research labs has been rising, and the numbers of scientists who submit grant proposals are at record highs. In January 2012 the NIH announced that the success rate for research grants in 2011 fell to an all-time low of 18 percent.

Dr. Revilla, who also serves as Associate Professor of Neurology at the UC College of Medicine, has personal research interests in Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and essential tremor. His most significant Parkinson’s research involves balance and gait.

Read about Dr. Revilla’s upcoming attempt to summit Mount Sajama, the highest mountain in Bolivia, in honor of his patients >>

The Parkinson’s program at UC and UC Health has undergone a significant transformation since Dr. Revilla was recruited from Washington University in St. Louis to become the center’s director in 2003. On the clinical front, the number of neurologists with fellowship training in movement disorders has doubled, from two to four, and two neurosurgeons with expertise in deep brain stimulation have been added.

The center’s basic science efforts began to grow in 2002 with a major gift from the James E. and Anne R. Bever family, and in 2003 Saul Schottenstein established the Selma Schottenstein Harris Laboratory for Research in Parkinson’s, a research laboratory that has furthered the study of growth-factor therapies and novel genetic models in Parkinson’s. The Gardners’ landmark gift in 2007 established the James J. and Joan A. Gardner Family Center.

“Slowly but steadily, our center has gained momentum,” Dr. Revilla said. “We have cemented our collaborations not only with NIH but also with the Michael J. Fox Foundation, the Davis Phinney Foundation and the Brian Grant Foundation. We have become integral to the Parkinson’s community through local fundraisers and our role as the American Parkinson’s Disease Association’s official Information and Referral Center for Ohio for our region.

“The Gardner Family Chair builds on our success,” Dr. Revilla continued. “In return we pledge to the Gardners – and to our patients – to continue to provide the best clinical care available, to pursue laboratory research to the best of our ability, and to bring new hope to our patients by offering the most promising clinical trials.

— Cindy Starr

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