As the population ages, the number of people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) is increasing. At the same time, the need for movement disorder specialists — doctors who are experts in the treatment of PD — is growing as well. To help address this, in 2014, The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) launched The Edmond J. Safra Fellowship in Movement Disorders. This program provides funding to academic centers to train movement disorder specialists and thereby expand the global base of neurologists who can treat people with Parkinson’s and contribute to research.
MJFF is also working to educate and engage neurology residents (doctors who have not yet decided on a subspecialty) in the field of movement disorders. The Foundation and the Movement Disorder Society (MDS) recently co-sponsored a two-day course, led by international movement disorder experts, in which 72 neurology residents learned about Parkinson’s disease and other common movement disorders. Rachel Dolhun, MD, movement disorder specialist and vice president of medical communications at MJFF, shared just some of the ongoing work in Parkinson’s research and development that has the potential to change the face of what is already such a stimulating career choice for many. She highlighted the robust therapeutic pipeline (e.g., the recently approved PD psychosis medication, rescue drugs for sudden “off” symptoms in late-stages of testing and disease-modifying therapies in clinical trials), technological advances — smartphones, apps and watches that could help doctors diagnose, track and treat the disease — and genetic findings that may shed light on underlying causes of PD and lead to novel treatments.
In June, Dr. Dolhun and others from MJFF will attend the international MDS meeting in Berlin, Germany. There, they will connect with neurology residents, movement disorder fellows and specialists from around the world, and learn the latest in Parkinson’s research. Watch the blog for a recap of the conference and stay tuned for updates on MJFF’s efforts to advance research and improve the lives of people with Parkinson’s.