Finding the cause, finding more effective treatments and discovering the cure for Parkinson’s is the focus of the Parkinson’s Research Foundation, an IRS registered non-profit foundation that was established in 2001 to support and expand the pioneering research of Dr. Paul Greengard¹s laboratory at The Rockefeller University. Dr. Greengard discovered the fundamental rules by which neurons in the brain and spinal cord interact with one another work that earned him medicine’s highest honor, the Nobel Prize. He did this largely by examining the effects of the neurotransmitter dopamine, a chemical messenger that is progressively lost in Parkinson’s disease. By teasing apart the intricate pathways and second messengers by which dopamine exerts its array of effects on neurons, Dr. Greengard and his team of scientists are laying the groundwork for a new generation of Parkinson’s medications that act at the molecular level to stop the disease in its tracks or prevent it altogether.
Dr. Greengard has assembled a close knit group of more than 25 outstanding scientists who are focused on translating the fundamental understandings about the dopamine system into new treatments for Parkinson’s. The core team of researchers based at the Stern Foundation laboratory on the campus of The Rockefeller University interacts continually with collaborators from the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Italy, Japan and Korea. This global presence ensures that no promising research lead is overlooked, and that progress can be made on multiple fronts simultaneously.
State-of-the Art Facility
The Stern Center shares a state-of-the-art laboratory at The Rockefeller University with the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research, a synergistic arrangement that capitalizes on the similar scientific questions that drive research aimed at curing these two different brain diseases. (For more information about the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research, please see their website.)
The laboratory is equipped with the most advanced technology available to scientists engaged in the fight against these neurodegenerative disorders. These cutting edge instruments include all the essential tools of molecular biology, such as gene chips that permit scientists to monitor hundreds of genes as they are turned on and off during nerve-cell function, and sophisticated equipment that enables researchers to peer inside nerve cells and eavesdrop on their inner workings. Another research tool created specifically for the lab is the transgenic mouse model, a mouse in which certain genes thought to be involved in PD are removed, inserted or are abnormally over-expressed. These animal models are critical to pre-clinical research aimed at developing and testing potential drug candidates.
In addition, an integrated computer complex at the Stern Center facilitates data analysis and expedites worldwide exchange of information, while an adjoining conference center brings together top scientists from around the world. Informal collaborations among researchers augment annual symposia at The Rockefeller University on related subjects.
With its unmatched combination of advanced technology and brilliant scientific minds, the Stern Foundation is uniquely equipped to lead the search for a cure for Parkinson’s and, indeed, has already made outstanding progress toward this critical goal.