UC Designated Udall Center for Parkinson’s Research

The University of Cincinnati has been designated a Morris K. Udall Center for Parkinson’s Disease Research by the National Institute of Neurological disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

The designation carries with it a grant of $6.2 million over five years, which will enhance research at the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute’s James J. and Joan A. Gardner Family Center for Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders. UC researchers will also be working with researchers at Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine in Grand Rapids.

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, degenerative neurological order that affects one in 100 people over the age of 60, the average age of disease onset. Symptoms include tremor, or trembling in hands, arms, legs, jaw and face; rigidity, or stiffness of the limbs and trunk; bradykinesia, or slowness of movement; and postural instability, or impaired balance and coordination.

At present, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. A variety of medications, however, can provide relief from its symptoms.

The Morris K. Udall Centers of Excellence Program, named in honor of the former U.S. congressman from Utah who died in 1991 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease, comprises 14 centers including UC’s. Its goal is to create and foster an environment that enhances research effectiveness in a multidisciplinary setting.

“This is certainly an acknowledgment of the excellence of the program here and the talents of our accumulated science investigators,” says Tim Collier, PhD, Director of the Udall Center at UC. “And because community support is a factor in center designation, it’s also an acknowledgment of the generosity of the citizens of Greater Cincinnati and the Tristate region.”

Funding from the Udall Center designation will support a number of research projects, including research by Collier into progenitor cells, or adult stem cells, and how they might promote repair and recovery in the degenerated brain.

Additional research is focusing on such areas as deep brain stimulation, the response of the brain to the standard medication for Parkinson’s disease (levodopa) and the relationship between Parkinson’s disease and depression.

In addition to UC, Udall Centers across the country are Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School; Columbia University; Harvard University/McLean Hospital; Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Massachusetts General Hospital/Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville (Fla.); Northwestern University; University of California, Los Angeles; University of Kentucky; University of Miami; University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; University of Virginia; and University of Washington. The Parkinson’s Disease Data and Organizing Center at the University of Rochester is an associated program.

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