$5.5 Million Gift Boosts UC Parkinson's Programs
Published October 2007
A local family’s support will significantly enhance Parkinson’s disease programs in the community.
The James J. and Joan A. Gardner Family Foundation has donated $5.5 million to establish the James J. and Joan A. Gardner Family Center for Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders at the Neuroscience Institute at UC and University Hospital.
The gift will endow clinical and research programs while accelerating collaboration among scientists and physicians.
“The Gardner Family endowment will propel Parkin-son’s disease research and care in Cin-cinnati to a new level of excellence and will encourage the broad collaboration of others,” says John Tew, MD, clinical director of the Neuroscience Institute and professor of neurosurgery at UC.
“It will ensure that the Neuroscience Institute can continue to inspire the best and brightest scientists and physicians in our quest to provide better treatments for people with Parkinson’s disease and to achieve our ultimate goal of finding a cure.”
The center treats 2,000 patients from the region and beyond and conducts numerous laboratory and clinical research projects.
In 2006 it was named the first national Davis Phinney Research Center—a collaboration among universities to promote sharing of laboratory and clinical research data related to Parkinson’s disease.
“The Gardners sincerely hope that their gift will generate additional resources for the benefit of research that will ultimately cure Parkinson’s disease,” says James Gardner.
“We have confidence in the leadership team at the Institute and hope this gift can position the center as a beacon of hope, capable of discovering the first treatments to prevent and reverse Parkinson’s disease.
“As good stewards of our resources,” Gardner continues, “the Gardner family expects the Neuroscience Institute to achieve certain benchmarks over a five-year period.
“We are working on defining those desired benchmarks, and we are grateful for this performance challenge, as it keeps us focused on the Institute’s commitment to the treatment, prevention and cure of Parkinson’s disease.”
Clinicians at the Gardner Center provide patients with advanced medical care and surgical treatments.
New patients are evaluated by a team of specialists, who then determine an individualized treatment path from within the complete spectrum of therapies.
Physician researchers also offer patients the opportunity to participate in clinical trials that test new therapies and advance scientific understanding of the disease.
In an effort to understand how the disease begins and progresses—and with the ultimate goal of curing the disease—laboratory researchers at the Gardner Center are studying Parkinson’s disease at the molecular level and in animal models.
Approaching the disease from multiple directions, their work includes:
• cellular replacement therapy, including transplantation of dopamine-producing neurons;
• examination of the accumulation of markers of brain cell degeneration as they change over a lifespan;
• examination of exacerbated dopamine cell loss in a rodent model of combined depression and Parkinson’s disease;
• delivery of novel, beneficial growth factors to the precise region of the brain that de-
generates in Parkinson’s disease; and
• study of a dual-risk model, in which an animal exposed to a toxin early in life develops Parkinson’s over the course of a long lifespan.
Joseph Broderick, MD, research director of the Neuroscience Institute and chair of the UC department of neurology, says the gift guarantees the center’s continued rise in national stature.
“We have assembled a world-class team of clinicians and researchers in Greater Cincinnati,” Broderick says.
“The Gardner gift is exhilarating to every member of our Parkinson’s team because it ensures and enhances our ability to work creatively in a multitude of new directions.”
The Gardner Center is the second endowed center at the Neuroscience Institute at UC and University Hospital, a regional destination dedicated to patient care, research and education, and the development of new treatments in seven areas of neuroscience.
The Waddell Center for Multiple Sclerosis was established in 2002 with a $5 million gift from Cincinnati benefactors Virgilee and Oliver Waddell. It is the region’s first fully comprehensive multiple sclerosis center.
Annual Event Stimulates Research
The Gardner gift announcement was a prelude to the fourth annual Sunflower Revolution, the region’s largest Parkinson’s event, held Sept. 7–9.
In addition to a fundraising gala and bike ride, the Sunflower Revolution provides a free symposium and expo for patients and physicians.
Proceeds from 2006 revolution events have funded several UC Parkinson’s research projects.
A $50,000 grant went to Kim Seroogy, PhD, of neurology, and James Herman, PhD, psychiatry, to study whether clinical depression accelerates the progression of Parkinson’s.
The event also funded a clinical study led by Fredy Revilla, MD, on the effects of deep brain stimulation (DBS) on balance and gait, an animal study led by Timothy Collier, PhD, aimed at tracing development of Parkinson’s disease years after a toxic exposure, and a clinical study led by Alberto Espay, MD, to separately measure two aspects of “bradykinesia,” the slowing and constricting of movement and reflexes that are characteristic of Parkinson’s.
The 2006 revolution ride, which raised $300,000, earlier funded an effort to determine whether DBS protects dopamine neurons in rodents affected by Parkinson’s. Led by Caryl Sortwell, PhD, that study received $120,000.
The amount raised at this year’s event has not yet been released.