Parkinson’s Foundation and Melvin Yahr International Parkinson’s Disease Foundation Announce Merger

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by Ana de Barros, PhD |

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The Parkinson’s Foundation recently announced a merger with the Melvin Yahr International Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, a New York-based organization named after Melvin D. Yahr, MD, a pioneer in Parkinson’s disease (PD) research whose work led to the adoption of levodopa as an innovative treatment.

The merger will be finalized following approval by the New York Attorney General or Supreme Court.

“The Parkinson’s Foundation is honored to pay tribute to the many contributions Dr. Melvin Yahr has made to the Parkinson’s community,” John Kozyak, chairman of the Parkinson’s Foundation board of directors, said in a press release. “We are proud to continue our long-standing tradition of supporting the next generation of Parkinson’s researchers.”

Dr. Yahr later served as scientific director of the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, which was founded in 1957 by William Black and has since merged with the National Parkinson Foundation to become the Parkinson’s Foundation.

Yahr lived from 1917 to 2004 and served as professor of neurology and associate dean of Columbia University’s medical school. While at Columbia, he led the building of a new research facility with funding from Black and was appointed head of Columbia’s Parkinson’s research team.

Yahr was behind the development of the Hoehn-Yahr scale in 1967, the first widely used PD rating scale that is still used today, in what is considered one of his greatest career achievements. He helped consolidate the specialty of movement disorders among the medical community.

“Dr. Yahr was an expert on Parkinson’s disease whose name is known around the world,” added Lice Ghilardi, MD, president of the Melvin Yahr International Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. “He has launched many careers in neurology and we are happy to carry on this tradition by funding scholars in his name.”

After the merger, the Parkinson’s Foundation will establish the “Dr. Melvin Yahr Research Award” to promote leadership diversity in PD research, honoring Yahr’s legacy. The award will be given in the form of a two-year grant to one neurology fellow every two years, to fund individuals who have been underrepresented in PD research at academic institutions.

In addition, the Parkinson’s Foundation will also set up individual “Congress Awards” to help cover travel costs to those attending the Congress of the International Association of Parkinsonism and Related Disorders, World Federation of Neurology.

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