Editor's Note: For more Foundation news, research updates and tips on living well with Parkinson's, read the Fall/Winter 2017 edition of The Fox Focus, our biannual newsletter.
People with Parkinson's and their loved ones know firsthand the importance of a good doctor. Throughout life with Parkinson's disease (PD), patients need a physician who can adjust sometimes-complex medication regimens, incorporate newly available therapies, and, if necessary, call on other experts, such as physical and speech therapists, to round out a care team.
Movement disorder specialists -- neurologists with extra training in Parkinson's -- have the knowledge and experience necessary to offer this holistic and individualized care. But not everyone with PD sees a movement disorder specialist because there aren't enough of them. Lack of funding for fellowship training and limited exposure to the specialty during residency hold doctors back from pursuing movement disorder careers.
To meet current and growing needs of Parkinson's care and research, a broad, global base of movement disorder specialists is key. Drawing on our "if not us, then who" attitude, The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF), with longtime partner the Edmond J. Safra Foundation, is investing in two initiatives to fill the pipeline of Parkinson's experts and secure the field's future.
The Edmond J. Safra Fellowship in Movement Disorders aims to bridge the funding gap to train clinician-researchers who can directly link patients to the scientific developments necessary for new and better therapies. Annually, this program selects five academic institutions from around the world to train a movement disorder specialist over a two-year period -- as of early 2018, a total of 20 fellows will be supported.
The MDS-PAS Movement Disorders School for Neurology Residents provides physicians in training a two-day immersion in Parkinson's and other movement disorders. At a period when these doctors are contemplating career paths, the course offers comprehensive education and interaction with internationally renowned movement disorder experts. Over the past two years, 150 residents from across the world and spanning all three years of neurology training have attended. The 2018 program hopes to host 100 new students.
As more therapies move into testing and to market, it is critical to have a workforce of trained specialists who can optimize care, advance research and connect the dots between the two. Investing in the next generation of movement disorder specialists will have long-term gains for the entire Parkinson's community.