On October 19, 2013, George Browne joined more than 300 others at the New York City Clinical Trials Fair presented by The Michael J. Fox Foundation and Fox Trial Finder. Already a clinical trial connoisseur, George was there to find out about more new trials in his area that he and his wife, Mary, could get involved in.
The Brownes first started getting involved in research studies soon after Mary was diagnosed with PD in 2005. They both decided early on that they wanted to find out as much as they could about the disease, and furthermore, what they could do to help speed a cure. Having always been very involved in church and community activities, participating in clinical trials seemed to be a good fit. Says George, “It feels good to do something that is valuable to other people. It’s an involvement that is life-defining for us.”
They participated in their first trial together, helping to test the effects of practicing Tai Chi on PD symptoms. “It was very invigorating and uplifting,” says Mary, who is still very active, getting consistent exercise through dancing and swimming.
Since then, Mary also participated in a LRRK2 genetic screening at NIH, which led her participating in a trial testing Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), which, she reports, have helped greatly with her motor symptoms. Today, George is enrolled in The Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative, a multi-year study to identify a biomarker of Parkinson’s disease. George travels to Philadelphia for his PPMI visits and says he enjoys working with the coordinators and physicians who are part of the study. “They are forthright and very helpful. They answer any questions I have, and are well-trained to do their jobs.”
Mary and George stress the importance of living positively with PD. A retired physical therapist, Mary has had experience helping others through rough times. She channels this skill into speaking with others in her community about staying optimistic, keeping a positive attitude, and taking an active role in the pursuit of a cure for PD.
And it certainly isn’t just lip-service. Mary and George are pursuing participation in three studies they learned about through the Trials Fair in NYC last month. George says, “We’re encouraged to find other ways to participate, and like to encourage others to join us, as well.”
You can join George and Mary by registering as a volunteer for Fox Trial Finder. You’ll receive a custom list of trials in your area looking for someone like you to participate. Sign up today at www.foxtrialfinder.org.
In the San Francisco area? MJFF and Fox Trial Finder are hosting another clinical trials fair on Saturday, December 14. Visit www.michaeljfox.org/sftrialsfair for more details and to RSVP.