Stepping Ahead with Student Scientists: Kristin Ford

ford_kristenApril is Parkinson’s Awareness Month, and at PDF, we thought this would be a great time to catch up with Kristin Ford, a former PDF-funded Summer Fellow, to see how PDF funding helped to jumpstart her career in Parkinson’s research and care. You may remember that last month we caught up with another fellow, Will Johnson, who was also supported through PDF’s Summer Student Fellowship Program, which funds undergraduates and medical students to spend their summers working on PD-related research projects with mentors in the field. Typically, fellowships are offered for 10 weeks with an award of $4,000.

Kristin spent her Fellowship completing the project, “A Novel Evaluation of Daytime Vigilance in Individuals with Parkinson’s Disease Using a Virtual Reality Street-Crossing Task,” while an undergraduate at University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in the summer of 2013. Kristin is now training to become a physical therapist, and plans to work with people with Parkinson’s disease. We sat down with her to hear about her experiences during her Fellowship.

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A.C. Weighs In: Can PD Researchers Study Apathy?

woolnough_ac_copyWhich aspect about living with Parkinson’s is your priority for researchers to study? For PDF Research Advocate A.C. Woolnough, the answer is: apathy. Apathy, which is a lack of interest or enthusiasm, is a common complaint among people with Parkinson’s and loved ones but has not received much research attention.

A.C. shared apathy as his priority by taking PDF’s six-question survey as part of the Second Annual Community Choice Research Awards. Below, we interviewed him to find out why he thinks researchers should spend more time studying apathy.

There’s still time for you too to submit. PDF is accepting survey submissions until Thursday, April 30. Later this year, we will choose two community-suggested priorities and fund scientists with $15,000 grants to study them.

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Supporting Science with Science-Inspired Jewelry

ball-emily-allice“My collections are inspired by beauty and science, neuroscience to be exact,” says Emily Alice Ball.

A jewelry designer from the UK, Emily Alice’s collections are uniquely named and categorized … according to science. For instance, there’s the oxytocin and the serotonin collection, and then there’s adrenalin. And most importantly during April … there’s dopamine. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter in the brain that helps with movement and coordination. It is also the one that is lost in Parkinson’s disease.

Three years ago, Emily Alice, whose friend and customer lives with Parkinson’s disease, came to PDF with a creative idea for Parkinson’s Awareness Month. During the month of April, she would donate a portion of proceeds from the dopamine jewelry collection to PDF.
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Gil & Kirk Agree, Palliative Care Should be
Priority for Researchers

hall_kirkWhich question about living with Parkinson’s is your priority for scientists to answer? For PDF Research Advocates Kirk Hall of Denver, CO, and Gil Thelen of Tampa, FL, the answer is: understanding how palliative care can help people with PD.

Gil and Kirk separately completed PDF’s six-question survey as part of the Second Annual Community Choice Research Awards. It turns out that they chose the same topic. We interviewed them to find out why studying palliative care is so important.
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The Power of the Pen Against Parkinson’s

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“Parkinson’s disease is a mimic. It is also a snowflake; no two incidents being identical in symptoms,” writes Gil Thelen, a PDF Research Advocate and longtime newspaper editor from Tampa, FL.

With these words, printed last week as part of his Op-Ed, Mr. Thelen has proven how powerful a tool the pen can be in the fight against Parkinson’s.

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Hospice and Parkinson’s and The Changing Conversation About End of Life

logo_fs_caring_129In the past year or so, PDF has seen an increasing number of articles broaching the topic of end-of-life planning — how to talk with a person about his or her care, the role of the family, whether drastic life-saving measures should be taken and whether it is preferable to spend those last days home or at the hospital.

Just this week, Barron H. Lerner, M.D., was the latest to weigh in on the topic of end of life with his piece, Overruling My Father, appearing in the New York Times. Dr. Lerner, a physician at NYU Langone Medical Center, who is perhaps best known for his authorship of “The Breast Cancer Wars,” turns his attention to Parkinson’s disease. And he reveals his and his mother’s decision, based on his father’s previously-expressed views, to choose hospice for the end of his father’s life. (He reports that his father, Dr. Philip Lerner, passed away in hospice in 2012.)

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