Dr. Hauser receives Michael J. Fox Foundation award to study Parkinson's disease subtypes

>Dr. Robert Hauser directs the USF Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center of Excellence.

Tampa, FL (July 18, 2007) — The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) has awarded Robert Hauser, MD, director of the University of South Florida Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center of Excellence, $124,996 to identify different forms of Parkinson’s disease based upon patterns of long-term outcomes in patients.

Dr. Hauser, principal investigator, will collaborate with co-principal investigator Michael P. McDermott, PhD, of the University of Rochester. USF was among seven research teams worldwide receiving $710,000 in total funding for projects to initially characterize Parkinson’s disease subtypes – distinct forms of the disease that may differ in onset, progression and response to treatment. All seven studies will leverage existing data and patient populations.

The USF study will evaluate whether it is possible to identify Parkinson’s disease subgroups based on how patients are faring seven to eight years after initial diagnosis. Some patients experience few symptoms at this stage of the disease, while others have problems with thinking and memory, motor fluctuations, mood, parkinsonism (slowness, stiffness, tremor) or autonomic function (blood pressure, urinary and bowel function).

“Early identification of patients who are anticipated to develop particular patterns of symptoms may allow physicians to select specific therapies that would be most beneficial for a specific type of patient,” said Center Director Robert Hauser, MD, MBA, who is leading the MJFF Parkinson’s Disease Subtypes project at USF. Characterizing disease subtypes could also help delineate genetic and environmental causes of Parkinson’s, Dr. Hauser said.

The USF project will tap into two significant clinical research populations in the Parkinson’s field — the DATATOP (Deprenyl and Tocopherol Antioxidative Therapy of Parkinsonism) study and the CALM-PD (Comparison of the Agonist Pramipexole with Levodopa on Motor Complications of Parkinson’s Disease) study.

“One of the most frustrating aspects of Parkinson’s disease — for patients, researchers and clinicians alike — is the significant variability in how the disease manifests itself from patient to patient,” said Sarah Orsay, chief executive officer of the Foundation. “The retrospective studies funded under PD Subtypes aim to analyze data already gathered on different forms of the disease. This analysis could yield valuable information with potential to improve clinicians’ ability to treat patients with existing therapies. It could also advance development of new treatments and enable better design of future clinical trials.”

USF was the only institution in the Southeastern United States to receive a MJFF grant to advance the understanding of Parkinson’s disease subtypes. Dr. Hauser is director of the Signature Interdisciplinary Clinical Research Program in Neuroscience at USF.

– About USF Health -

USF Health is a partnership of the University of South Florida’s colleges of medicine, nursing, and public health; the schools of biomedical sciences and physical therapy & rehabilitation sciences; and the USF Physicians Group. It is a partnership dedicated to the promise of creating a new model of health and health care. One of the nation’s top 63 public research universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, USF received more than $310 million in research contracts and grants last year.

- About The Michael J. Fox Foundation -
The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research is dedicated to ensuring the development of a cure for Parkinson’s disease through an aggressively funded research agenda. To date, the Foundation has funded over $94 million in research directly or through partnerships.