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Spotlight On Research Supported by PDF

M. Flint Beal, M.D., Chairman of the Department of Neurology and Neuroscience, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, and Neurologist-in-Chief, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center

Dr. M. Flint Beal, an authority on Parkinson's and other movement disorders, whose work ranges from lab science to patient care, has been at the Cornell University Medical Center (now, the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center) since 1976. For the past eight years, he has served as Chair of Neurology at the medical college and Neurologist-in-Chief at the medical center.

Under his guidance, Weill Cornell has made significant contributions (often in direct collaboration with another PDF-supported research center, Columbia University Medical Center) to our understanding of the pathology of Parkinson's disease. Among the projects currently being pursued are the development of novel biomarkers to diagnose PD, use of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to evaluate energy defects in patients, the development of new neuroprotective agents and the development of new transgenic mouse models of PD. A particular focus is on mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative damage, both of which have been strongly implicated in PD pathogenesis. Scientists are currently developing mouse models of the genes PINK1, which causes autosomal recessive PD (this condition occurs when parents - themselves unaffected by a disease - each have a mutation on one copy of the gene pair), and PARK8, which causes autosomal dominant PD (which is when there is a mutation on only one copy of a gene pair and an affected parent has a 50 percent chance with every pregnancy of transmitting the disease).

While the laboratory is Dr. Beal's home territory, he also spends time developing clinical trials for neuroprotection in PD and other neurodegenerative diseases. He has been directly involved in the study of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and creatine as promising neuroprotective therapies for Parkinson's disease. Both CoQ10 and creatine have shown initial protective effects in patients but require further study in larger multicenter trials.

As natural complements to his research, Dr. Beal lectures and writes widely on such topics as aging, energy and neurodegenerative diseases; oxidative damage and mitochondrial dysfunction; the role of CoQ10 as a treatment and other novel therapies in Parkinson's. He is the author of more than 100 books and chapters and more than 400 peer-reviewed papers. He is also the author of a forthcoming textbook, co-edited with Anthony E. Lang and Albert C. Ludolph, entitled Neurodegenerative Diseases, Neurobiology Pathogenesis and Therapeutics. He has served on the editorial boards of numerous respected journals, including Annals of Neurology. He is the First Vice President of the American Neurological Association.

Dr. Beal has also served on the science advisory boards at the Johns Hopkins University Parkinson's Disease Center for Excellence as well as the Columbia University Parkinson's Disease Center for Excellence. He is on the Oversight Board of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) neuroprotection trials in Parkinson's disease and previously served as the Chairman of the Training Grant and Career Development Review Committee Study Section of NINDS. In addition, Dr. Beal advises on neurodegenerative diseases for the New York Academy of Sciences.

For more information on Dr. Beal's work and research or on the Department of Neurology and Neuroscience of Weill Medical College of Cornell University, please call (212) 746-6575.