Ken Marek is a scientific advisor to MJFF and the principal investigator of the Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), the Foundation's landmark study to better understand and measure Parkinson's disease.
MJFF: What is the biggest challenge you face in your research today?
KM: How to identify the people who might be at risk for Parkinson’s. PPMI is expanding so that we can learn more about the biological changes that take place before symptoms arise. If we can figure that out, we may be able to develop drugs that might prevent Parkinson’s altogether.
MJFF: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about your daily work with PD?
KM: Parkinson’s is a complex disease, so the search for a biomarker (measure of disease) requires a large-scale, collaborative effort like PPMI. The good news is, PD researchers from across the globe are collaborating every day. Scientists from 30 different countries have applied to use data and specimens culled from PPMI. Our model is working, and I’m looking forward to seeing researchers use the data to find new ways to help patients.
MJFF: How do you unwind after work?
KM: I’m a big baseball fan, and spend a lot of my time rooting for the Yankees. I also like to write short stories.