María L. De León, MD, is a fellowship trained movement disorder specialist as well as an avid research advocate.
Over the last decade, Maria has spent most of it her time championing women’s issues and setting ground for understanding of gender differences in neurological diseases particularly that of Parkinson's diseae (PD); while attempting to decrease the disparity in healthcare treatment among minorities through her work as part of PAIR (Parkinson’s Advocates in Research) program. She served as a member of PPAC (People with Parkinson’s Advisory Committee) for 4 years for Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (now known as Parkinson’s Foundation) and has been instrumental in developing the ‘Women & PD initiative.’ As such she wrote the first book for women with PD addressing the gender differences.
She has also authored 2 other books and several other publications– “Viviendo mas alla...” (Living beyond...) takes into account the cultural barriers that exist for Hispanics to obtain diagnosis and treatment for PD along with the obstacles that preclude them from participating in clinical research. This has led to an extensive collaboration with the Hispanic Outreach program through MACP (Muhammad Ali Center of Parkinson’s). She currently serves as a public policy advocate for Michael J Fox Foundation working closely with the DOD in helping secure grant money for Parkinson’s research. She also is a blogger for Brain and Life magazine, health union and her personal blogs defeatparkinsons.com and parkinsonsdiva.org the latter concentrating on women’s issues in living with chronic illness and PD.
Since her diagnosis with YOPD, her commitment to helping improve research disparity has solidified. Dr. De León received her B.A from the University of Pennsylvania and her M.D. from Hahnemann Medical School.
The MJFF Patient Council was established in March 2009 as a formal channel for the Foundation to solicit input from PD patients and the broader Parkinson's community. The Council advises the Foundation on programmatic fronts including (but not limited to) strategies to best convey patient priorities to the research community and its funders; content and emphasis for patient education and outreach relevant to MJFF's mission to find a cure; patient roles in developing novel ways to conduct research; and mechanisms for impact assessment.