Parkinson's Action Network Awards $12,500 to University of Pittsburgh Postdoctoral Scholar and Researcher-Advocate, Laurie Sanders, Ph.D.

WASHINGTON, D.C.; AUGUST 8, 2012 – The Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN) announced today that Laurie Sanders, Ph.D., is the recipient of a Parkinson’s Action Network Postdoctoral Advocacy Prize, supported by Teva Pharmaceuticals.  The Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN) established this prize as part of an effort to recognize members of the scientific community for their advocacy and community outreach work.

Sanders serves as a leader in PAN’s grassroots advocacy program and reaches out to her Senators and Representative about issues important to the Parkinson’s community.  She has spoken to local Pittsburgh-area support group meetings and regularly does community outreach to help educate the general public about Parkinson’s disease and the need for federal research funding.  Not only does she incorporate her advocacy experiences in the courses she teaches, she also works within the university to encourage other postdoctoral researchers to make advocacy and public outreach an integral component of their work. 

PAN believes Sanders is helping pioneer a whole new level of advocacy and engagement on behalf of the Parkinson’s community.

“This prize is not about rewarding promising research, but rather, commending scientific researchers for the important role they play in the fight for federal funding and policy support for the 500,000 to 1.5 million Americans living with Parkinson’s disease,” said Parkinson’s Action Network CEO Amy Comstock Rick.  “In our advocacy work here in Washington, D.C., we’ve learned that researchers working in the lab and with patients bring a unique perspective and powerful voice to discussions with policymakers.  We hope this prize encourages more researchers like Laurie to participate in advocacy and community outreach efforts because, almost more than anyone else, they understand the critical role of NIH and other federal funding at their universities and institutions,” Rick added.

"PAN brings the scientific community and patients together so that both sides have a better understanding of one another -- and for many researchers, doing advocacy and outreach work is the first time they actually meet people with the disease they're researching," said Kevin Wilson, Director of Public Policy for the American Society for Cell Biology.  "This prize is the most significant single effort I've ever seen in breaking down the silos and encouraging the scientific community to work with patient groups to educate around why research funding is so important," Wilson added.

The Parkinson’s Action Network Postdoctoral Advocacy Prize will be presented at PAN’s annual Morris K. Udall Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C., on October 3, 2012.

About the Parkinson’s Action Network
The Parkinson’s Action Network is the unified voice of the Parkinson’s community advocating for better treatments and a cure.  In partnership with other Parkinson’s organizations and its powerful grassroots network, PAN educates the public and government leaders on better policies for research and an improved quality of life for people living with Parkinson’s.  For more information about PAN, go to parkinsonsaction.org.

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