UM Neurologist Begins Parkinson’s Disease Genetic Testing Study

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With support from a $1 million community foundation grant, a University of Miami Miller School of Medicine neurologist will begin a study that provides genetic testing and counseling for people with Parkinson’s disease (PD).

The study – the only one of its kind in Florida – is offered in conjunction with the Parkinson’s Foundation, which recently launched “PD GENEration: Mapping the Future of Parkinson’s Disease,” a new national initiative. The goal of PD GENEration is to improve Parkinson’s care by accelerating and supporting research to advance improved treatments and personalized medicine.

“Our new study will provide patients and their physicians with personalized information about the genes associated with Parkinson’s disease,” said Carlos Singer, M.D., professor of neurology and founding director of the Parkinson's Foundation Center of Excellence of the University of Miami. “There are drugs in development that target these gene abnormalities, so the test helps advance the delivery of precision medicine for PD patients.”

Dr. Singer said Parkinson’s disease is associated with well-known genetic mutations found in about 10-15 percent of patients. The testing will focus on seven genes associated with PD, including some that can be dormant and passed down to future generations.

The study will be conducted via telemedicine and is for patients living in Broward County. In some cases, an in-person evaluation will be necessary, and patients will be seen at UHealth's Fort Lauderdale and Plantation locations.  Participants need to have a diagnosis of PD, but can take part at any stage of the disease.

The study was made possible by a $1 million grant from the Sharron and Joseph Ashby Hubert Fund of the Community Foundation of Broward to support participation for Broward County residents. “We are incredibly grateful for the generosity shown by the Sharron and Joseph Ashby Hubert Fund of the Community Foundation of Broward to help us expand the PD GENEration program to better serve the Parkinson’s community in South Florida,” said John L. Lehr, president and CEO of the Parkinson’s Foundation. “This program will help people with PD better understand their diagnosis while improving Parkinson’s care by accelerating and supporting research.”

The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine is a Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence, one of 33 designated medical centers in the U.S. with a specialized Parkinson’s care team that practices the latest treatments and research while providing the best care. In addition to personalized treatments, deep brain stimulation, and clinical trials, the center provides UHealth PD patients and their families with support groups, educational symposiums and many other services.

“With such a high concentration of people with Parkinson’s in South Florida, we are proud to fuel this vital and necessary research with a landmark grant from the Sharron and Joseph Ashby Hubert Fund,” said Amanda Kah, charitable funds services manager at the Community Foundation of Broward. “This cutting-edge research could potentially change the lives of so many people in our community.”