Parkinson's disease (PD) is a growing global health problem that causes untold suffering for patients and their loved ones, and challenges health care systems. Motor symptoms are the classic features for which there are some effective interventions;however, non-motor symptoms, especially cognitive impairment, are very common, may precede motor symptoms, and do not respond well to existing therapies. Solutions will come only from research. The Pacific Northwest Udall Center (PANUC), one of ten NINDS-funded Morris K. Udall Centers of Excellence for Parkinson's Disease Research, is our response to this research imperative. The overall goal of PANUC is to develop the knowledge and tools of precision medicine for cognitive impairment in PD so that the right person gets the right prevention or treatment at the right time. Our innovative three cores and four projects focus on genetic risk for cognitive impairment in PD;development of new therapeutic targets based on molecular mechanisms or mechanisms of disease;detection of preclinical or early disease using novel brain imaging;and a proof-of-concept clinical trial for balance and gait problems, in part an expression of cognitive impairment. Each of our research goals is ranked among the highest priority recommendations of two recent NINDS Conferences: Parkinson's Disease 2014: Advancing Research, Improving Lives and Alzheimer's Disease-Related Dementias: Research Challenges and Opportunities 2013 (which included PD dementia). PANUC is committed to continuing our efforts to contribute to the prevention and treatment of cognitive impairment in PD through precision medicine.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that over half a million people in the United States suffer from Parkinson's disease, causing untold suffering to patients as well as their caregivers and other loved ones. The physical, emotional, and societal costs of Parkinson's disease will increase over the coming decades as more of us live longer. Cognitive impairment is a common feature of Parkinson's disease that is disabling for patients and challenging to caregivers. Our center is focused on the clear imperative to find better tools for diagnosis and better ways to treat cognitive impairment in patients with Parkinson's disease.
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