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Percent of dollars spent on our mission

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Founder Ė William Black

William Black and Page Morton Black

William Black and Page Morton Black

The Parkinson's Disease Foundation (PDF) was the first private foundation in the United States created specifically to advance research into the cause(s) of and a cure for Parkinson's, and to assist those who live with the disease.

The creation of PDF in 1957 by William Black, founder of Chock full o’Nuts, a successful New York coffee and restaurant business, is in itself a story of support, good will and advocacy. When Mr. Black’s controller and close friend was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, he was appalled to learn that no truly effective therapy was available, nor was any basic research being conducted on the disease.

With his own money, Mr. Black set up PDF with a single goal— to establish a research program aimed at finding effective drug treatment for the disease. He met with Dr. H. Houston Merritt, Chair of Neurology at Columbia University, and Dr. Melvin D. Yahr to help create the first major research center for Parkinson’s. Mr. Black made two major gifts to Columbia University: one to help build the research laboratory building that now bears his name and houses one entire floor dedicated to Parkinson’s research; the other to endow support for that research. This close relationship between PDF and Columbia University has persisted to this day.

After Mr. Black died in 1983, his widow Page Morton Black, took on the role of Chairman, continuing her husband's tradition of service to the Parkinson's community for over 30 years until her resignation in 2012. She served as Chairman Emeritus until her death in July 2013.

PDF has, over time, expanded the scope of its activities to a nationwide basis. In 1999, the organization completed a merger with the United Parkinson Foundation, a Chicago-based Parkinson's organization. The main office remains in New York City.

Read more about PDF's operations, financials and history, by downloading our report, The PDF Story 1957 - 2007: Fifty Years of Leadership and Commitment to the Parkinson's Disease Community. To order a print copy, call PDF at (800) 457-6676 or email your request to info@pdf.org.

Over the years, PDF has also worked with Chock full 'o Nuts - the company founded by Mr. Black - to raise awareness of Parkinson's.

Learn more about this partnership