Letter from the Executive Director
Each season, I report to you on the themes woven together in the current edition of PDF News & Review. In this edition, you may find it interesting to see information on our greatest concerns about PD, alongside stories that provide the greatest hope for how to live well with it.
Our lead article, by Ronald F. Pfeiffer, M.D., addresses head-on the major fear that every family faces in wrestling with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s — namely, how it progresses over a lifetime. But the other articles — in a kind of spontaneous antiphonal chorus — deal in diverse ways with how we can go about addressing this challenge. None of these approaches are yet beating it back, I regret to say, but they are taking it on — by understanding PD better, or by mobilizing resources to fight it, or by finding ways to live better with it.
Take, for example, the interview with Marilyn Phillips, P.T., and Bob Zimmerman, Ed.D., two of PDF’s Research Advocates. Each of these folks, along with their 200 colleagues who are part of PDF’s Parkinson's Advocates in Research (PAIR) program, are exercising their leadership roles in research advocacy with flair and dedication.
Or look at the latest science news to learn about a study by Margaret Schenkman, P.T., Ph.D., on the role of exercise in PD.
Or reflect on the career portrait of Wendy Galpern, M.D., Ph.D., a scientist who was the recipient of PDF’s first clinical research award through the Parkinson Study Group. She went on to become a program officer at the National Institutes of Health, which has funded almost $2 billion in Parkinson's disease research over the past decade.
Or consider the story of Carolyn Weaver and her dog Selma, showing how in some cases it’s not just a matter of the person with PD helping herself, but also of a member of the animal kingdom assisting.
Or follow the profiles of individuals who help daily to fuel the fight against Parkinson’s by raising money for research, by hosting concerts or participating in fundraisers like PDF’s CARNAVAL celebration.
In very different ways, these are profiles of people who respond to a diagnosis of Parkinson’s by taking matters into their own hands — like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “taking action against a sea of troubles.” They have signed on as active leaders of the drive to understand PD better and to confront it more effectively.
Dr. Pfeiffer lays down the gauntlet; Schenkman, Galpern, Phillips Zimmerman, Weaver and others pick it up and run with it. PDF is proud to be playing a central role in this drive.
Robin Anthony Elliott