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Geisinger investigator receives $1.5 million NIH award to study Parkinson’s disease

Jul 08, 2015 04:25PM ● Published by Erica Shames

Janet Robishaw, Ph.D.

Geisinger investigator Janet Robishaw, Ph.D., has received a $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study a key signaling pathway that is dysfunctional in Parkinson’s disease.

In the United States alone, this disorder affects one million patients who experience a host of motor symptoms, including tremor, general reduction voluntary movements (bradykinesia), and rigidity.

For Parkinson’s patients and their families, the quality of life is greatly reduced and the economic impact is estimated at $25 billion per year. Current treatment options show limited effectiveness. Although dopamine replacement therapy improves the motor symptoms, prolonged treatment often produces uncontrolled movements (dyskinesia) and altered intellectual functions.

By capitalizing on her discovery of a new mechanism to regulate movement, Dr. Robishaw said the goal of this study is to develop a more targeted, effective treatment for this debilitating disorder.

“Our finding also has important implications for treatment for learning disorders and addictive behaviors,” Dr. Robishaw, associate director and senior scientist at Geisinger Health System’s Weis Center for Research, said.

Identifying mechanism-based diagnoses and treatments represent dual goals of the precision medicine initiative instituted by the Geisinger learning health system to improve the overall health of affected patients.    

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