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Parkinson's Disease Foundation Announces $30,000 in Grant Funding to Study Fatigue and Gastrointestinal Dysfunction

Research Areas Chosen by People with Parkinson's through PDF Community Choice Research Awards

NEW YORK, March 13, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Parkinson's Disease Foundation® (PDF®) is pleased to announce $30,000 in funding to address two disabling, yet under-recognized symptoms of Parkinson's disease – fatigue and gastrointestinal dysfunction – through its first Community Choice Research Awards.  The patient community identified these two areas as priorities for scientific research through an online survey administered in 2013, the results of which were reviewed by PDF's scientific advisory board.

Parkinson's Disease Foundation logo.

"It is exciting to see patients, such as myself, play a pivotal role in the choice of research priorities through the PDF Community Choice Research Award," said Diane Cook, member of PDF's People with Parkinson's Advisory Council and board member of ProjectSpark, which is partnering with PDF to launch the award. "The results demonstrate exactly why patient input is needed – because people with Parkinson's understand more than anyone that the 'invisible' symptoms such as fatigue and gastrointestinal dysfunction, are the ones for which we need better treatments."

It is estimated that more than 50 percent of people with Parkinson's disease will suffer from fatigue.  Many people with Parkinson's disease identify fatigue as more disabling than the movement symptoms of Parkinson's, such as tremor and stiffness.  Similarly, up to 80 percent of people with Parkinson's disease experience issues with their gastrointestinal system, such as bowel dysfunction and constipation. Yet, very few treatments exist to treat either symptom.

To address these under-recognized symptoms, PDF is gathering leaders in the field of Parkinson's disease as well as specialists from related areas, such as gastroenterology and exercise physiology, to assess where we are in understanding and treating these symptoms, and what needs to be done to move the field forward.  The first, focused on fatigue, will be led by Joseph Friedman, M.D., professor of neurology in the Alpert Medical School at Brown University in Providence, RI, and the second on gastrointestinal function will be jointly led by Ronald Pfeiffer, M.D., professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, TN, and Eamonn Quigley, M.D., a gastroenterologist and Medical Director of The Lynda K. and David M. Underwood Center for Digestive Disorders at Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, TX.  Each meeting will involve the person with Parkinson's who first recommended the topic as well as a PDF Research Advocate. Results and recommendations are expected in fall 2014.

"The results from the first Community Choice Research Award reinforce PDF's philosophy that people with Parkinson's disease need to have a voice in the research process," said James Beck, Ph.D., Vice President, Scientific Affairs at PDF.  "The insights the community provided through PDF's survey are helping to put a spotlight on unmet needs, allowing us to focus on ways to not only provide help today, but also speed treatments for tomorrow."

Learn more about the PDF Community Choice Research Award by visiting www.pdf.org/communitychoice or by calling (800) 457-6676.

PDF thanks the ProjectSpark Foundation for their support and partnership on this initiative. 

About Parkinson's Disease 
Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects nearly one million people in the United States and seven to 10 million people worldwide.  Although promising research is being conducted, there is currently no cure for Parkinson's disease.

About PDF Research 
Central to the mission of the Parkinson's Disease Foundation (PDF) is our commitment to funding research that is focused on three results: solving, treating and ending Parkinson's disease.  In the calendar year 2014, PDF will contribute a total of $5 million towards Parkinson's disease research programs, funding three research centers, 40 scientific projects and 10 clinical fellows around the world.  A full list of this year's research projects is available on the PDF website at www.pdf.org/results_funded.    

About the ProjectSpark Foundation®
The Project Spark Foundation® seeks to complement the efforts of other institutions focused on Parkinson's disease by finding points of leverage where a "spark" can ignite the actions needed to move forward.  Based on a belief that creative thinking and effective outreach will help to make a difference, ProjectSpark supports innovative solutions, creative opportunities and collaborative ventures.

About the Parkinson's Disease Foundation (PDF)
The Parkinson's Disease Foundation® (PDF®) is a leading national presence in Parkinson's disease research, education and public advocacy.  We are working for the nearly one million people in the US who live with Parkinson's disease by funding promising scientific research while supporting people living with Parkinson's disease through educational programs and services.  Since its founding in 1957, PDF has dedicated over $100 million to fund the work of leading scientists throughout the world and over $42 million to support national education and advocacy programs.

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SOURCE Parkinson's Disease Foundation

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