Each year during the season of Thanksgiving I take the opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments and goals of the Parkinson Disease Center and Movement Disorders Clinic at Baylor College of Medicine and to express my gratitude to my friends and colleagues for their continued support. This year is a particularly special year because it marks the 25th anniversary of our Department and the PDCMDC. To draw attention to the quarter century of progress, we have recently hosted an anniversary conference with contributions from internationally recognized physician-scientists, including directors of Neurology programs from Harvard, Columbia, UCLA, Mayo Clinic and other renowned academic and research institutions. When I joined Dr. Stanley Appel and the newly created Department of Neurology at Baylor College of Medicine in 1977 I hoped to be a part of a new scientific and clinical endeavor that was developing at Baylor and the Texas Medical Center. What was then just a dream has become a reality. Baylor now ranks #1 in biological sciences according to the National Science Foundation in research expenditures in basic and clinical science. Furthermore, in the US News & World Report's 2002 annual guide to "America's Best Hospitals", Baylor-Methodist Neurology was ranked in the top 10 of all hospitals. I don't think I am being immodest by stating that the accomplishments of our PDCMDC have played a major role in these recognitions.
This year, more than any prior year, has witnessed extraordinary advances in the science and translational research into the mechanisms and treatment of a variety of medical ailments, particularly neurodegenerative and movement disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, tremors, dystonia, Huntington disease, and Tourette syndrome. Once again, Baylor's PDCMDC has played a leading role in these exciting developments. Our Center's various scientific discoveries and clinical observations have resulted in over 60 publications in journals, books, and other media and our accomplishments have been featured in several local and national TV programs. I also co-edited several books, and the 4th edition of the Jankovic-Tolosa textbook on Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders was just published in October. This year I have been honored by invitations as a visiting professor and lecturer at the National Institute of Health, University of Iowa, Upstate Medical University, University of New York at Syracuse, Albany Medical College, University of Massachusetts, Brown University, Shanghai, China, Ho Chinh Minh City and Hanoi, Vietnam, and many other academic and research institutions. We have strengthened our alliance with NIH by forming an NIH-Baylor Collaborative Consortium. In January 2002 we celebrated the naming of our Center as the Center of Excellence by the Huntington Disease Association of America, with a symposium focusing on latest advances in research and treatment into this devastating heredodegenerative disorder. I also chaired and hosted the 20th Anniversary International Conference on Blepharospasm and Related Disorders. In addition to serving on numerous scientific advisory boards of various research foundations, I was invited to chair the Neurotoxin Institute, an international think tank comprised of world thought leaders interested in improving our understanding and therapeutic application of various neurotoxins, including botulinum toxins. Our PDCMDC has been selected by the NIH to develop and conduct trials on neuroprotective therapies in Parkinson's disease designed to slow the inexorable progression of the disease. In addition, we have been selected to participate in a multinational trial of Spheramine, cultured human retinal cells attached to gelatin microcarriers. These microcarriers when implanted into the striatum, the part of the brain that is deficient in dopamine in patients with Parkinson's disease, will deliver nearly million of cells that will continuously produce L-dopa.
These and other accomplishments, coupled with over 50 current research projects, provide evidence of remarkable progress in our clinical and basic science programs. To drive these projects requires a team of dedicated physicians and scientists. This year, I have been fortunate to recruit another member to our team. Dr. Madhavi Thomas completed her two-year movement disorders fellowship and joined our faculty as of July 1, 2002.
As you can tell, I am very proud of our accomplishments. But I know that there is much work still to be done to bring us closer to the goal of finding the cause and cure of Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders. I, therefore, ask you to make a tax deductible contribution to our research fund so that we can continue to make progress in our fight against these diseases. If you prefer, you may choose to honor someone special with your gift or to designate your gift to the endowment. Donations should be made payable to the Parkinson Disease Center and sent to me at the above address (see the attachment). If your company has a matching gift program, be sure to let us know so the proper forms can be filed. All gifts will be properly acknowledged.
Please let me know if you have any specific questions about our research goals and needs. On behalf of my team, I want to convey our gratitude for your interest and support and wish you and your family a safe and healthy holiday season.
With warm appreciation,
Joseph Jankovic, M.D.