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Rallying to the Challenge Meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Aims to Improve Parkinson's Disease Clinical Trials

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Aug. 5, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) is scheduled to host Rallying to the Challenge, a meeting which highlights the many ways people with Parkinson's disease can impact the clinical trial process and accelerate access to new Parkinson's disease treatments.

For more information on Van Andel Institute's cancer and neurodegenerative disease research and science education initiatives, visit vai.org.

The meeting will take place during the third annual Grand Challenges in Parkinson's Disease symposium, one of the most comprehensive Parkinson's and neurodegenerative disease events in the United States, on September 24–25 at Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids, Mich. The symposium, hosted by VARI's Center for Neurodegenerative Science, brings together global leaders in Parkinson's and neurodegenerative disease research and provides a forum for people with Parkinson's disease to interact with medical professionals and scientists. Rallying to the Challenge is co-organized by the UK-based Parkinson's research organization The Cure Parkinson's Trust, along with Parkinson's Movement, a global task force of influential Parkinson's disease patient advocates.

Tom Isaacs, co-founder and president of The Cure Parkinson's Trust, will serve as the chairman for Rallying to the Challenge. Isaacs, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease at age 27, is a leading advocate for people with Parkinson's.

"To people with Parkinson's, clinical trials represent the only way of improving their Parkinson's treatment and impacting the quality of their lives. This meeting is absolutely critical as a means of building a bridge of understanding and cooperation between patients and those conducting trials," said Isaacs.  "We are so close to making major progress in treating Parkinson's, and this can be accelerated through better communication and a 'can-do' attitude from everyone involved. Rallying to the Challenge directly addresses these issues and will act as a springboard for more relevant, collaborative, transparent and streamlined studies on Parkinson's disease."

Large-scale Parkinson's disease clinical trials have become increasingly rare because of the high costs, and lack of reliable biomarkers and models for the disease. The dearth of clinical trials prevents innovative discoveries from moving forward and slows the development of therapies that could positively affect patient health. Establishing Parkinson's disease clinical trials in Grand Rapids is a crucial element of VARI's Center for Neurodegenerative Science's growth plan.

"We have a commitment to people with Parkinson's to find ways around the obstacles that stand in our path to successful clinical trials," said Dr. Patrik Brundin, director of VARI's Center for Neurodegenerative Science.

Information on Grand Challenges in Parkinson's Disease and Rallying to the Challenge can be found at www.grandchallengesinpd.org.

About Van Andel Research Institute

Established by Jay and Betty Van Andel in 1996, Van Andel Institute (VAI) is an independent research and educational organization based in Grand Rapids, Mich. Van Andel Research Institute (VARI), VAI's research arm, is dedicated to studying the genetic, cellular and molecular origins of cancer, Parkinson's and other diseases and working to translate those findings into effective therapies. www.vai.org.

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SOURCE Van Andel Institute

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