Irene Hegeman Richard, MD, is associate professor of neurology and psychiatry at the University of Rochester, and a Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) Scientific Advisory Board member.† Richard provides neurological care for patients with PD, and her research program focuses on the psychiatric aspects of the illness. This past spring, she spoke with MJFF about a grant she received from the National Institutes of Health to lead a multi-center clinical trial evaluating the treatment of depression in PD.† As a researcher who relies on the participation of patients, Richard underscores the need to effectively recruit for clinical research, which is never an easy task.†
MJFF spoke with Irene for the latest installment of our monthly feature, Three Questions for a Researcher. Read on to get to know her and her work a little better.
MJFF: What is the biggest challenge you face in your research today?
IR: Clinical trial recruitment is by far the biggest challenge we face in our research.† We work hard to identify potential trial participants, and then to keep them involved in trials they sign up for.† We recognize how much of a commitment it is to engage in clinical research, so weíre very thankful to those people who are willing to get involved.
The Fox Foundationís new clinical trial matching tool called Fox Trial Finder is definitely a step in the right direction.† We know that many people with PD and other diseases are more than willing to participate in clinical research, but they just donít know how to go about finding trials.† Fox Trial Finder is like a Ďmatch.comí for clinical research and it helps patients and clinical researchers connect in a very efficient way.
MJFF: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about your daily work with PD?
IR:† Again, Iíd say how much time we spend on clinical trial recruitment.† Iím not sure if people with PD realize that one of the most helpful things they can do to move research forward is to get involved in clinical research.† Iíd say most people find it very rewarding.†
MJFF: How do you unwind after work?
IR:† I love to sit back and relax with a Newcastle Brown Ale.