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BIDMC scientists awarded grants from Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's research
Date:11/18/2009

BOSTON -- Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) neurologists Alvaro Pascual-Leone, MD, PhD, and Daniel Tarsy, MD, have been awarded grants totaling more than $1.5 million from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF) to conduct investigations aimed at improving the quality of life for patients with Parkinson's disease.

A chronic, degenerative disorder of the nervous system that affects one in 100 individuals over age 60, Parkinson's disease results from diminished levels of dopamine, the brain's chemical messenger responsible for transmitting the signals that enable us to coordinate movements. Although Parkinson's disease typically results in tremor, rigidity and other motor symptoms, a number of non-motor symptoms, including depression, cognitive impairment, and sleep problems can also affect patients with Parkinson's disease and, in many cases, can be even more disabling than the motor symptoms.

Pascual-Leone, Director of BIDMC's Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation, will oversee a three-year $1.498 million grant to investigate the use of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) therapy to control symptoms of Parkinson's disease. As part of the study, 160 patients will be enrolled in clinical trials at BIDMC and at three other North American centers including the University of Florida in Gainesville, the University of California in Los Angeles, and the Toronto (Canada) Western Research Institute-University of Toronto.

"Depression is very common among patients with Parkinson's disease and evidence suggests that it is not merely a response to chronic illness or motor impairments but, in fact, results from factors related to the degenerative brain process itself," notes Pascual-Leone, whose pioneering work has demonstrated that TMS therapy in which a mild electric current is delivered through a magnetic coil placed over a patient's scalp to help adjust brain signals that ha
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Contact: Bonnie Prescott
bprescot@bidmc.harvard.edu
617-667-7306
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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