Pitt Named An APDA Center for Advanced Research

Issue Date: 
September 11, 2006

Pitt has been named an American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) Advanced Center for Parkinson’s Disease Research, a designation that places it in an elite group with eight other leading institutions in the United States.

J. Timothy Greenamyre, UPMC Endowed Professor of Neurology and chief of the Movement Disorders Division in Pitt’s School of Medicine, will direct all aspects of the center and chair the center’s executive committee. Greenamyre, an internationally renowned Parkinson’s disease researcher, was recruited to Pitt’s faculty in 2004 to direct the Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases.

“Being selected as an APDA Advanced Center for Parkinson’s Disease research builds on a long history of excellence in Parkinson’s disease research at the University of Pittsburgh and will allow us to capitalize on our growing strengths in the basic and clinical aspects of Parkinson’s disease research,” said Greenamyre, who also is chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Parkinson Study Group and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Michael J. Fox Foundation. “We hope that our research will make a difference in the lives of people with Parkinson’s disease and for their families as well.”

The other APDA centers are at Boston University School of Medicine; Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta; UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles; the University of Alabama at Birmingham; University of Virginia Medical Center, Charlottesville; UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, N.J.; and Washington University Medical Center, St. Louis.

As an APDA Advanced Research Center, Pitt will receive $90,000 per year for five years, for a total of $450,000. The grant will support both clinical and basic science research, with studies likely to focus on developing methods for early Parkinson’s disease diagnosis, characterizing the swallowing and respiratory problems of Parkinson’s, understanding how iron accumulates in the Parkinson’s-affected brain, and on evaluating gene transfer as a way to stop the disease’s neurodegeneration process.

In addition to granting $450,000 to Pitt, APDA also has awarded Sarah Berman, a Pitt assistant professor of neurology, and Rehana Leak, a research associate in the University’s Department of Neurology, one-year $50,000 research grants. Berman will use her award to study mitochondrial dynamics in vulnerability and protection of aging in Parkinson’s, and Leak will conduct her research on preconditioning-induced neuroprotection in Parkinson’s models.