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Podcast: Treating Parkinson's 'Off' Episodes

Genetics Discovery Underscores Importance of Diversity in Parkinson’s Disease Research

What does it mean to have diversity and representation in research? And why does this matter in the study of genetics? 

In this podcast, researchers behind a new groundbreaking genetics discovery share how a global coalition found a new variant in the GBA gene that is associated with a higher risk of Parkinson’s disease (PD) for people of African ancestry. The finding marks the first African ancestry-specific genetic risk factor for PD. And it underscores the importance of proactively engaging and building trust with underrepresented communities in scientific research, and building the capacity of researchers and clinicians within these same communities. 

The finding emerged from research on Nigerian and U.S. cohorts contributing to the Global Parkinson’s Genetics Program (GP2), a resource of the Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s (ASAP) initiative funded by the Sergey Brin Family Foundation and implemented by The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF). It is expected to be the first of many discoveries to come from GP2, which since launching in 2019 has assembled more than 140 cohorts from 58 global locations with the goal of collecting and genotyping more than 150,000 unique samples.  

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The podcast is hosted by Akbar Gbajabiamila, MJFF board member and host of NBC’s American Ninja Warrior and CBS’s The Talk. He leads a discussion with panelists: 

  • Ekemini A. U. Riley, PhD, ASAP’s managing director 

  • Alyssa O’Grady, MJFF’s vice president, clinical research 

  • Njideka Okubadejo, MD, professor of neurology at the University of Lagos College of Medicine in Nigeria 

View a transcript of this podcast. 

Parkinson’s research studies urgently need volunteers to help move science forward. Get involved today. If you identify as Black or African American and do not have a parent, sibling or child with Parkinson’s disease, join the “BLAAC PD” study here. Additionally, whether you have Parkinson’s or not, you can help move research forward. Join the study that’s changing everything. Find out more here

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