March 2010 E-Newsletter - NIH Director Announces Parkinson’s Disease Biomarkers Initiative at PAN Forum

     One of the most valuable resources available to Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN) advocates throughout the year is the Webcast archive.  By simply filling out an information form, the entire Forum Webcast is available for viewing.  This is an excellent way for advocates to take the speakers, topics, information, and education and put the information into action in their advocacy.  At this year’s Forum, Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), spoke to Forum participants about Parkinson’s research and other initiatives at NIH.

Dr. Collins joined PAN advocates as the Keynote Speaker at the 16th Annual Research & Public Policy Forum.  He spoke about numerous research opportunities at NIH, both in the field of Parkinson’s research and advancing science in general.  He also focused particularly on carrying forward basic research discoveries into the next generation of drugs and therapies.

A highlight of Dr. Collins’s remarks was his announcement of a new Parkinson’s disease biomarkers initiative recently approved by the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).  The goal of this much-needed initiative is to pinpoint a biomarker for Parkinson’s that would be helpful in the development of disease-modifying drugs.  Having a validated biomarker would allow us to conduct clinical trials earlier in the disease progression and much more quickly.  The initiative will be conducted at clinical sites and data-biospecimen imaging centers nationwide.
“The discovery and validation of a Parkinson’s disease biomarker would benefit our community in both earlier diagnosis and drug development,” said Amy Comstock Rick, PAN Chief Executive Officer.  “We are thankful to NINDS for pursuing this initiative and to Dr. Collins for announcing it at the PAN Forum.  This is an outstanding example of his leadership in ensuring that basic research discoveries are carried through to achieve their full benefit.”

Dr. Collins spoke at the Newseum to the live Forum audience while also reaching advocates nationwide on the online broadcast.  He answered questions from both participants at the Newseum and online.  Since becoming Director of NIH last year, Dr. Collins has made a point of supporting translational research in order to shepherd discoveries from the lab to people who may benefit from new drugs or therapies.

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