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GEN News Highlights : Sep 23, 2011

Investigators Get $8M to Set Up Parkinson’s Brain Bank

Studies will focus on Arizonians with the disease, and data will be shared.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) will give Banner Sun Health Research Institute (BSHRI) and Mayo Clinic Arizona an $8 million, five-year grant to support a "National Brain and Tissue Resource for Parkinson's Disease and Related Disorders."

The NINDS award will fund studies of Arizonans with Parkinson disease as well as normal aging individuals. The researchers will collect information from clinical research testing on a yearly basis and perform autopsies to study the brain and other bodily tissue. Both brain tissue and related clinical data will be shared with 50 or more different research organizations throughout the world every year.

A critical feature of this program is the confirmation of the clinical diagnosis through autopsy. One major goal of the funding is to find the earliest clinical markers for the onset of Parkinson disease and for the onset of dementia in people with Parkinson disease.

Thomas Beach, M.D., Ph.D., of BSHRI, is principal investigator and heads the neuropathology operations for the project, while Charles Adler, M.D., Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic, is co-investigator and directs the clinical aspects. Both are also currently co-principal investigators of the Arizona Parkinson's Disease Consortium.