Each year I look forward to the Thanksgiving season as this offers an opportunity to express my gratitude to my friends and colleagues for their continued support and to reflect on the accomplishments and goals of the Parkinson Disease Center and Movement Disorders Clinic at Baylor College of Medicine. In addition to providing the most professional and compassionate care for patients with Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders we have made substantial contributions in research and advancing knowledge. The following are some highlights of our clinical, research and academic activities during the past year.
- Although some members of the Baylor faculty have relocated to the new Baylor Clinic, the PDCMDC remains in the current location at Smith Tower, 18th floor. The PDCMDC continues to be committed to the mission of the Baylor College of Medicine, again ranked among the top medical schools in the nation according to U.S. New and World Report’s annual list and No. 1 for research expenditures in biological sciences by the National Science Foundation.
- One of the many strengths of the PDMDC is the robust patient database, that now includes data on 22,000 patients with Parkinson’s disease and a variety of other movement disorders, such as tremors, dystonia, chorea, Huntington’s Disease, tics, Tourette’s syndrome, tardive dyskinesia, restless legs syndrome, ataxia, and others.
- Dr. Joseph Jankovic, director, appointed Dr. William Ondo as associate director of the PDCMDC, and Dr. Joohi Shahed, a former clinical fellow at PDCMDC was promoted to faculty.
- Our current fellows, Drs. Chris Kenney, formerly assistant professor of neurology at University of California at San Diego, Laura Wu, M.D., Ph.D. from Taiwan, and Oraporn Sitburana, M.D. from Thailand, join the growing list of past fellows, many of whom have become thought leaders not only in the United States but also in many foreign countries including Belgium, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Ireland, Singapore, and Turkey.
- This year, in collaboration with James Poysky, Ph.D., child psychologist at Baylor College of Medicine, we have established the Tourette Syndrome Center and Childhood Movement Disorders Clinic. The Center and Clinic were first announced at the conference “Tourette Syndrome and Related Neurobehavioral Disorders”, directed by Dr. Jankovic, and held in Houston, in January 2005.
- During the past year Dr. Jankovic and his PDCMDC team have published over 50 articles and chapters. Dr. Jankovic also co-edited three books on Neurology and movement disorders, and published 2nd edition of his Video Atlas.
- Over 20 abstracts were presented by Baylor’s PDCMDC during the 9th International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders, New Orleans, March, 2005, more than any other Center in the world. This annual meeting, attended by over 2,000 scientists from over 60 countries, is the most important forum for showcasing the most innovative research in the field of Parkinson’s disease and related neurodegenerative and movement disorders.
- Dr. Jankovic was honored this year as the first “Mel Yahr Memorial Lecturer” at the Mount Sinai Medical School, New York, and presented the “Jay Gorell Memorial Lecture” at Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit and the “William Koller Memorial Lecture” at University of Kansas, Kansas City.
- During the past year, Dr. Jankovic lectured at the American Academy of Neurology, International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders, International Congress on Parkinson’s Disease and Related Disorders and numerous medical schools including University of Arizona, Weill Cornell Medical College, University of California at San Diego, California Parkinson Institute, and other institutions. In addition, he has lectured in Singapore; Saigon; Vietnam; Berlin, Germany; Sydney, Australia; and Cork University Hospital, Ireland.
- This year, the increasingly popular course “A Comprehensive Review of Movement Disorders for the Clinical Practitioner”, co-directed by Drs. Jankovic and Fahn, held each year in Aspen, Colorado celebrated its 15th anniversary. The honorable mayor of Aspen congratulated the directors and the faculty on this accomplishment.
- Dr. Jankovic has been invited to serve on the Scientific Advisory Board of the prestigious Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. He is also a member of the search committee for the new editor of Neurology, the official journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
- Dr. Jankovic has been again listed in The Best Doctors in America, America’s Top Doctors, Texas Super Doctors, and Who is Who in the World, America, Medicine, etc.
- Dr. Ondo participated in establishing American Academy of Neurology Guidelines for the treatment of Advanced Parkinson’s Disease, Essential Tremor, and the use of deep brain stimulation for movement disorders.
- Dr. Ondo lectured at the American Academy of Neurology, the World Congress of Movement Disorders, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Texas Neurological Society, and numerous Grand Rounds at medical schools across the country. He was also elected to the American Neurological Association.
- Through many liaisons with local and national support groups and foundation, the PDCMDC has been involved in many community and outreach programs, including the 4th Annual Huntington Disease Association Walk/Run. These programs were organized and championed by Christine Hunter, R.N., Manager of Research at the PDCMDC.
- The PDCMDC has received a great deal of attention from the media. For example, Dr. Jankovic has been interviewed frequently about Pope John Paul’s terminal complications of his Parkinson’s disease and about recent reports of new gene mutations causing Parkinson’s disease, botulinum toxin treatment, deep brain stimulation, and other discoveries at the PDCMDC.
While the PDCMDC has successfully competed for grants, including from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, additional support is much needed so that the PDCMDC remains in the forefront of basic and translational research in Parkinson’s disease and related neurodegenerative and movement disorders.
As you can see, I am very proud of the accomplishments of the PDCMDC. None of the achievements highlighted in this letter, however, would have been possible without the untiring efforts of the entire family of dedicated physicians, nurses and professional staff at the PDCMDC. I also wish to acknowledge my collaborators in our Parkinson’s Research Laboratory, headed by Weidong Le, M.D., Ph.D. The research generated by this collaborative effort has clearly advanced our understanding of neurodegeneration. For example, we found that 2-3% of our Parkinson’s patients have a mutation in the LRRK2 gene, the most common genetic cause of Parkinson’s disease. Our large DNA data bank has been also used to study genes potentially responsible for essential tremor. The research discoveries promise to translate into early diagnosis and innovative treatments. The latest therapeutic strategies focus on not only ameliorating the symptoms and improving quality of life, but to slow or halt the progression of diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and other neurodegenerative and movement disorders. I know that there is much work still to be done to bring us closer to the goal of finding the cure for these disorders. I am grateful to you for your generous support as we continue to make progress in our fight against these diseases. By continuing to invest in clinical and basic research, breakthroughs in treatment—and a cure—will be forthcoming.
With warm appreciation,
Joseph Jankovic, M.D.