Overview

Public Health Statement: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that over a half million people in the United States suffer from Parkinson’s disease, causing untold suffering to patients as well as their caregivers and loved ones. The physical, emotional, and societal costs of Parkinson’s disease will increase over the coming decades as more of us live longer; in fact, the number of patients with Parkinson’s disease is expected to double in the United States by the year 2030 unless we find safe and effective means to cure, delay onset, or slow progression of this disease. Cognitive impairment is a common feature of Parkinson’s disease that is disabling for patients and challenging to caregivers. Our center is focused on the clear imperative to identify root causes, find better tools for diagnosis, and develop effective treatments for cognitive impairment in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

The Pacific Northwest Udall Center (PANUC) is a collaboration among the University of Washington, the VA Puget Sound Health Care System, Oregon Health & Science University, and the Portland VA Medical Center. PANUC is one of nine Morris K. Udall Centers of Excellence for Parkinson’s Disease Research across the United States, named in honor of the former US Congressman who battled Parkinson’s disease. Udall Centers focus on scientific and clinical research designed to gain a fuller understanding of the fundamental cause(s) of the disease, improve diagnosis, and develop new approaches to treatment.

Research is vital to developing new treatment strategies for Parkinson’s disease and related disorders. Participation by people with Parkinson’s disease as well as their families or friends is critical to the success of this research. In PANUC, there are several opportunities for people with Parkinson’s disease and related

  • Cognitive Function Assessments: Cognitive impairment is common in Parkinson’s disease. It is a significant source of disability for people with Parkinson’s disease and causes increased burden for caregivers. The primary research focus of PANUC is cognitive impairment in Parkinson’s disease. Through both clinical and basic research, we strive to understand the basis of this problem and to discover new and better treatments for all people with Parkinson’s disease.
  • Genetic Research: Genetics plays an important role in determining who will develop Parkinson’s disease and which symptoms each person will experience. PANUC investigators are trying to find genes that influence the risk of developing cognitive impairment in Parkinson’s disease and this will point us to new therapeutic targets.
  • Biomarker Testing: As we and others work to develop better treatments, it also will be necessary to develop tools to determine their effectiveness. PANUC biomarker research will address this problem by developing laboratory tests to estimate risk, aid in diagnosis, measure progression, and determine the response to treatment.
  • Experimental Medication Protocols: PANUC investigators are seeking novel treatment trials for Parkinson’s disease and related disorders, particularly those related to cognitive impairment in Parkinson’s disease. Volunteers in PANUC will have the opportunity to participate in these studies as they become available.

  • Please consider volunteering for Parkinson’s disease research. Only with your help can scientists and physicians find the cause and cure for this devastating disease. Although your participation may or may not provide direct benefit for you, your participation is crucial for reducing or hopefully preventing Parkinson’s disease in future generations. People of all racial and ethnic groups are encouraged to participate.
  • If you have any further questions about PANUC, please call 206-897-6350 to speak with one of our staff members. This phone call will give you a chance to ask questions and for us to describe the PANUC studies in more detail.