Parkinson's Action Network Awards $75,000 in Three Researcher-Advocate Prizes

- University of Maryland School of Medicine Professor of Neurology Lisa Shulman, M.D., Receives $50,000 for Parkinson’s Action Network Researcher Advocacy Prize -

- University of Pittsburgh Postdoctoral Scholar Laurie Sanders, Ph.D., and University of Florida Postdoctoral Fellow Elizabeth Stegemöller, Ph.D., Each Receive $12,500 for the Parkinson’s Action Network Postdoctoral Advocacy Prize -

WASHINGTON, D.C.; AUGUST 8, 2012 – The Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN) announced today it has awarded a total of $75,000 to three Parkinson’s disease researchers as part of a new effort to recognize members of the scientific community for their advocacy and community outreach work.

“Scientific researchers working toward a cure for Parkinson’s disease play an important role 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 bring a unique perspective and powerful voice to discussions with policymakers, and we hope these prizes encourage more researchers to begin or increase advocacy and community outreach efforts.  Almost more than anyone else, they understand the critical role of NIH and other federal funding at their universities and institutions,” Rick added.

Lisa Shulman, M.D., from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, is the recipient of the Parkinson’s Action Network Researcher Advocacy Prize -- a $50,000 prize supported by a charitable contribution from UCB.  Shulman served as a Public Policy Fellow in the office of Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) and served on the legislative and public policy committees for the American Academy of Neurology and the American Neurological Association.  She speaks often at patient conferences and co-authored the book “Parkinson’s Disease – A Complete Guide for Patients and Caregivers” (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001, 2007).

The Parkinson’s Action Network Postdoctoral Advocacy Prize -- a $25,000 prize supported by Teva Pharmaceuticals – is being given in two $12,500 prizes to two postdoctoral Parkinson’s disease researchers:  Laurie Sanders, Ph.D., from the University of Pittsburgh; and, Elizabeth Stegemöller, Ph.D., from the University of Florida.  Sanders and Stegemöller serve as leaders in PAN’s grassroots advocacy program, and they regularly reach out to their Senators and Representatives about issues important to the Parkinson’s community.  Stegemöller encourages the patients she works with to become advocates not only for their own health but around Parkinson’s disease research.  Sanders has incorporated her advocacy experience into course lectures and mentoring conversations with students.  They both speak at support group meetings and do community outreach, but more importantly, they work within their universities to encourage other postdoctoral researchers to make advocacy and public outreach an integral component of their work.  PAN believes they are serving as role models and pioneering a whole new level of advocacy and engagement on behalf of the Parkinson’s community.

"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.  "These prizes are 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 prizes 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

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