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Around and About the Community

PDF Presents Award to Dr. Andrew Lees

For the past six years, PDF has teamed up with the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) in sponsoring the Academy's Movement Disorders Research Award. This award is presented to a scientist who best represents the ideals of involvement in scientific research, clinical care of patients and training of younger colleagues.

The recipient this year was Dr. Andrew Lees, Director of the Reta Lila Weston Institute of Neurological Studies and Professor of Neurology at University College, London.

Presenting this award at AAN's 58th Annual Meeting in San Diego, California on April 4 was Dr. Cynthia Comella of Rush University Medical Center.

In his lecture, Dr. Lees referred to the many influential teachers who helped shape his career in neurology, including Dr. Stanley Fahn, PDF's Scientific Director. He also referred to other sources of inspiration, including the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, whose experiences in mystery solving had interesting parallels with his work to unlock the mysteries of neurological disorders. His recent work has focused on the pathology of dystonia, depression in Parkinson's disease and progressive supranuclear palsy.

Dr. Lees is the current President of the Movement Disorder Society. He is also an original member of a database known as "Highly Cited Researchers ISI" - a free website that gives research professionals a mechanism to identify individuals, departments and laboratories that have made fundamental contributions to science and technology.

Unity Walk Raises Record Funds

On Saturday, April 29, more than 9,000 people gathered in New York City's Central Park for the 12th Annual Parkinson's Unity Walk. The largest crowd to date poured into the sun-filled park with the spirit of breaking records, both in attendance and in funds raised: nearly $1.5 million!

These numbers hardly came as a surprise as the "Fund a Cure Boulevard" had been packed with people since 10 AM and continued to grow as the program drew near. Walkers were greeted with ideal weather, rocking music and informational booths on Parkinson's, its treatments, support services and more. At 12 noon, Martin Tuchman, Chairman of the Unity Walk, and Margot Zobel, who founded the Walk more than a decade ago, kicked things off by welcoming the crowd and noting the enormous growth that the walk has experienced since its grassroots beginnings. Janet Reno, former US Attorney General, attended the walk for the first time and thanked the community for its passionate efforts in the fight against Parkinson's.

Following these leaders was Bob Benjamin, who was presented with the Alan Bonander Humanitarian Award for his outstanding service to the Parkinson's community. Bob, a music manager and good friend of PDF, was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1996. For the past six years, Bob has celebrated his birthday by organizing and promoting a series of rock-and-roll concerts that he started called Light of Day. The Light of Day events, which were held this year in New Jersey, Los Angeles and Rome, have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for PDF and other charities. Bob thanked his friends and family for helping him through a tough year and for keeping him motivated. PDF salutes Bob in receiving this well-deserved honor.

Among those rallying the troops were the commanding Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Co-Founder of the Congressional Working Group on Parkinson's Disease; the poetic May May Ali (daughter of Muhammad Ali) and Michael J. Fox, who concluded the program and sent the walkers on their way.

All of the proceeds of the Unity Walk are designated for research and will be distributed among the major US-based Parkinson's disease foundations, including PDF. Last year, PDF alone received some $100,000 from the Walk for research programs. These funds helped to support PDF's International Research Grants Program (IRGP), which provides seed grants to young scientists with innovative proposals for Parkinson's research.