Going 3D: The BigBrain Is A Gift That Keeps on Giving

brain_nl11This blog is part one in a series of three about the BigBrain.

Do you remember the moment of putting on 3D glasses in a movie theater? There was awe and excitement as stories and images that were flat came to life. There was similar excitement yesterday when researchers reported in Science that they have created BigBrain, a high resolution 3D digital image of the brain.

To understand the excitement, it’s important to understand that like a 3D movie, this image isn’t simply a flat picture of the brain. It is incredibly in-depth. Have you ever had an MRI? Well this is hundreds of thousands times more detailed.  Some have compared BigBrain to Google Earth, which shows much of the globe, piece by piece. Scientists think this up-close-and-personal view will help us understand how the brain works.

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Of Patents and Parkinson’s

jbeck.jpg From James Beck, Ph.D., Director of Research Programs

Should or could a human gene be patented? On June 13th, the Supreme Court of the United States delivered their unanimous ruling regarding what has been called the Myraid Genetics case.  The plaintiffs in this case sought to invalidate Myriad’s patent on two genes that when mutated can lead to a significant increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.  Because of the patent for these two genes, Myriad, a clinical diagnostic testing company, was the only entity that was permitted to perform the clinical tests that can both inform women if they carried mutations in these genes and if they are at an elevated cancer risk.

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Expression vs. Insensitivity: A Message to Kanye West from a Person with Parkinson’s

ppac_palizzi_sqFrom Tom Palizzi
Chair, PDF People with Parkinson’s Advisory Council

Kanye West is without question a richly talented and multifaceted artist. With utmost respect for freedom of expression and the inherent controversial nature of art in general, there is, however, a fine line between expression and insensitivity.

“On Sight,” the opening track on Mr. West’s new album Yeezus, includes the lyrics:

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From PPAC: Parkinson’s Isn’t Newsworthy … Until It Personally Touches You

ppac_willocks_sqBy Peggy Willocks, member, PDF People with Parkinson’s Advisory Council

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month. And it won’t be newsworthy that I came all the way from Tennessee to New York to participate in this past Saturday’s Parkinson’s Unity Walk, where about 10,000 people with Parkinson’s, friends and family “walked” through Central Park as a symbolic gesture to raise funding for research.

As a member of the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation’s (PDF) Advisory Council, it isn’t newsworthy that I am also here as a voice of the patient in helping to have better and faster approval of therapies for the debilitating illness.

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The Challenges of Research Funding

epelto1.jpgJust a few weeks ago, the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation’s grants review committee – comprising scientists and patient advocates – took on the task of deciding which of the 200 research grant applications we received would be approved for funding. PDF had the resources to fund only 10 worthy projects.

Researchers working on innovative, viable projects continually face the challenge of limited available funding. And funders, such as government agencies and foundations like PDF, have to make difficult choices based on available resources.

How can PDF meet the challenge to find sufficient funds to support the most promising research in tough economic times?

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The Doctor Is "In"… Your Living Room

Yesterday kicked off an exciting and intensive two-day gathering of researchers, health care providers, administrators, patient organizations, people with Parkinson’s and care partners on Long Island, NY. We gathered for the 2013 Merinoff Symposium, “Leveraging Telemedicine to Deliver the Highest Quality of Care to All Parkinson’s Patients,” hosted by the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research at North Shore–LIJ Health System and co-hosted by PDF, other national Parkinson’s organizations and telemedicine organizations.

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