High school students are fundraising for Parkinson’s disease research.
Parkinson Disease, like Alzheimer Disease, is a neurodegenerative disorder. It affects close to 1 million Americans, but, unlike Alzheimer’s, is characterized by slow movements, tremors, stiffness, and unsteady gait. In addition, many disabling mental features including dementia and psychiatric disturbances often emerge over time. The most prominent change in Parkinson brains is the loss of dopamine-producing neurons in the substantia nigra, an area associated with motor control and reward-based learning. Dopamine replacement with oral medications can improve symptoms, but responses are incomplete and side-effects eventually limit their use. Because a single cause of Parkinson’s has not been identified, therapies to slow, halt, or reverse neurodegeneration have been difficult to discover. Recent progress in genetics, cell biology, and systems neuroscience provide hope for more effective treatments, and potentially even a cure.
Please visit the following youcaring site Parkinson’s Disease Research Microgrant to share it through your facebook!
Who: Dr. Daniel K.l Leventhal
1995-2004: MD/PhD (Biomedical Engineering), Case Western Reserve University
2004-2005: Medical internship, University of Michigan.
2005-2008: Neurology residency, University of Michigan
2008-2012: Movement Disorders fellowship and post-doctoral training, University of Michigan
2012-present: Assistant Professor of Neurology and Biomedical Engineering, University of Michigan
As a Physics major and then graduate student in Biomedical Engineering, Dr. Leventhal became interested in applying quantitative tools to understanding brain function. During Neurology residency, he became interested in Parkinson Disease and similar conditions for several reasons. First, it is a fascinating disorder whose diagnosis and management rely almost entirely on the physician’s interaction with the patient, as opposed to diagnostic testing. Second, though tools to treat Parkinson’s are limited, current therapies make a substantial difference in Parkinson’s patients’ quality of life. Third, the science of Parkinson Disease, especially how dopamine loss interferes with normal movement, aligns well with Dr. Leventhal’s interest in applying mathematical methods to understanding neural systems.