$10M Will Boost Research, Care, Education Programs

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by Vanda Pinto |

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The Parkinson’s Foundation is investing an additional $10 million to support research, care, and education programs in order to improve the lives of people with Parkinson’s disease in the U.S.

Part of the funding will go toward the PD GENEration: Mapping the Future of Parkinson’s Disease initiative, to include free genetic testing and counseling for people with the disease in the Hispanic and Caribbean communities. Those communities have been historically underrepresented in Parkinson’s clinical trials, according to the foundation.

“The Parkinson’s Foundation has a longstanding commitment to removing barriers to care, making research more inclusive, and ensuring that information and resources are accessible,” James Beck, PhD, senior vice president and chief scientific officer of the Parkinson’s Foundation, said in a press release.

The PD GENEration study is a U.S. initiative that offers online and in-person genetic testing for clinically relevant Parkinson’s-related genes. Participation in the initiative is free and counseling is available in Spanish as well as English.

The Parkinson’s Foundation, through PD GENEration, is offering genetic testing and genetic counseling to 15,000 people and diversifying the Parkinson’s disease population. This is important since the effectiveness and safety of new treatments may differ among people with different ethnic backgrounds.

“Our goal is to diversify the participants in the PD GENEration study so that we can accelerate clinical studies, improve Parkinson’s research and care and empower all people with Parkinson’s — regardless of their background,” said Beck.

In addition, the Parkinson’s Foundation Impact Awards, for new and established researchers in Parkinson’s disease, will also receive additional funding.

The investment also will support better care of patients by advancing the role of nurse practitioners, improving palliative care resources, and testing new models of hospital care to improve health and safety.

“We are investing an additional $10 million towards mission programs that will help make life better for people with Parkinson’s disease by improving care and advancing research towards a cure,” said John L. Lehr, president and CEO of the Parkinson’s Foundation. “Our donors and volunteers stood with us throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and after a record-setting year, we are now accelerating funding to areas that are most important to the [Parkinson’s] community.”

The investment also includes an extra $2 million in funding for Parkinson’s Foundation community grants. These are awarded every year for health, wellness, and education programs that support the Parkinson’s community. More than half of the grants will aid diverse Parkinson’s disease communities in need.

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, some of the programs that have recently received funding include accessible health and research education for diverse Parkinson’s disease populations living in communities that are difficult to access, and increasing awareness, education, and support for the LGBTQ community living with Parkinson’s.