|EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE|
Monday, August 26, 2002
1:00 p.m. ET
|| NIEHS Contact:
Tom Hawkins (919) 541-1402
NIEHS Announces $20 Million, Three-Center Effort
to Pin-point Environmental Triggers of Parkinson's Disease
- The Parkinson's Institute, Sunnyvale, Calif., with J. William Langston, M.D., as center director. (For further information call (408) 542-5632.) The center will examine risks associated with pesticides and heavy metals, possible protective effects of tobacco and caffeine, the underlying mechanisms of dopamine cell death, and genetically determined susceptibility traits for Parkinson's disease.
- Emory University, Atlanta, Ga., with J. Timothy Greenamyre, M.D., Ph.D., as center director. For further information call (404) 727-3727. The center will develop new cellular and animal models to study gene-environment interactions in the development of Parkinson's disease and will focus on how pesticides interact with the proteins that package dopamine within nerves, and the cellular machinery that degrades abnormal proteins.
- The University of California at Los Angeles, with Marie-Francoise Chesselet, M.D., Ph.D., as center director, (310) 267-1782 or (310) 206-7458. The center will study how variations in genes that regulate dopamine levels within neurons may play a role in the increased risk of Parkinson's disease associated with pesticides, using several model systems as well as human cells and DNA samples from two large and unique California studies of Parkinson's disease.
Dr. Olden said that the three centers will conduct their research independently but will also have the benefit of acting as a consortium, collaborating and taking advantage of each other's knowledge and expertise. He said, "We have some good clues about what environmental agents and genes may be important in Parkinson's disease. This new consortium should bring together the right mix of scientists so that these leads can be pursued quickly."
J. William Langston, MD., founder and CEO of the Parkinson's Institute, said, "This could be the final chapter of our search for the cause of Parkinson's disease. Under the auspices and funding of NIEHS, three major research institutes will collaborate to find the environmental and genetic origins of Parkinson's. Working together we can accelerate the pace of research with a dream team of multi-disciplinary experts."
Joan Samuelson, founder of the Parkinson's Action Network, said, "The environmental link provides major clues in unraveling Parkinson's remaining mysteries. The cure will be accelerated by this tremendous commitment of funding and focused effort. That translates into less suffering for the million Americans with Parkinson's. We are filled with hope and gratitude by this endeavor."
Deborah W. Brooks, executive director of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, said, "The NIEHS and Director Olden have designed a creative approach to targeting this exciting area of Parkinson's research. Structuring collaboration among these three strong multidisciplinary teams should surely accelerate progress in what we continue to believe is a winnable war against Parkinson's Disease."