The Parkinson's Disease Information and Referral Center at UAB, located on the 3rd floor of the Sparks Center Building at 1720 7th Avenue South, offers educational, emotional and political support to Parkinson disease patients and their families. Established in 1978, it is one of the oldest American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA)-supported Parkinson disease information and referral centers in the United States with patient support groups established in all of the major cities in Alabama and also in some cities located in Mississippi and the Florida panhandle.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham was named home to one of eight Advanced Centers for Parkinson's Research by the American Parkinson Disease Association, Inc. UAB brought Parkinson's research to the forefront in 2003, with the creation of the Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorder Research Program under the direction of Dr. Ray Watts, Chairman of the Neurology Department. Then, in 2006, Dr. David Standaert was brought on board to head UAB's recently formed Division of Movement Disorders as well as the Center for Neurodegeneration and Experimental Therapeutics. Both Watts and Standaert are members of the American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) Scientific Advisory Board.
Said Watts in a news release: "I believe current and emerging therapies mean that medicine is on the brink of finding a cure for Parkinson's disease."
Each designated APDA center for research receives a minimum of $100,000 a year for five years.
UAB joins the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta; UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, N.J.; Boston University School of Medicine; University of Virginia Medical Center, Charlottesville; UCLA School of Medicine; and Washington University Medical Center, St. Louis, in the effort.
APDA President Vincent Gattullo said in the news release that the association has been supporting research for more than four decades and has "been a funding partner in every (related) major scientific breakthrough" since that time.
Parkinson's disease affects more than 1.5 million people in the United States annually, with at least 40,000 new cases diagnosed each year. The chronic and progressive neurological condition is the second most common neurodegenerative aging disorder, after Alzheimer's disease.
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Laura Lieb, RN, MPH, Nurse Coordinator