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The Johns Hopkins Morris K. Udall Parkinson's Disease Research Center of Excellence has led the world in explaining fundamental aspects of the neurodegenerative disease. Named in memory of Arizona Congressional Representative Morris K. Udall, who died from Parkinson's disease, the Center at Johns Hopkins was handpicked by the National Institutes of Health as one of three sites to research and fight the disease.

Valina and Ted Dawson

The Power Couple of Parkinson's Research

With over 30 years of experience studying neurodegenerative diseases, neurologists Ted and Valina Dawson are paving the way for new treatments for Parkinson's disease. Read more.

The Institute for Cell Engineering

One of the most exciting aspects of working at Johns Hopkins for scientists has always been the fact that they are surrounded by stars in their field, both in research and medical care. That means basic science discoveries in Parkinson's disease never take place in isolation. Instead, the relationship between researchers and physicians is designed to translate advances in the lab into therapies for patients.

The Institute for Cell Engineering (known as ICE), established in 2001, brings together top-level scientists in a range of disciplines who are advancing efforts in three highly promising areas: stem cell therapy, nerve regeneration, and immunotherapy. This tremendous resource, the first of its kind on an academic campus, offers an unprecedented opportunity to develop cures for neurological conditions - - from spinal cord injury to ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease).

While ICE aims to change the outlook for several neurological diseases, the new technologies it also hopes to foster will depend on expanding fundamental knowledge. "As we learn the basic biology of stem cells, we still have to learn how to 'instruct' them to become particular cells such as dopamine neurons", says physician Ted Dawson. "We need to understand how to direct supporting cells like astrocytes to take care of new neurons."

Because Parkinson's involves the selective degradation of a single population of nerve cells, it will be among one of the ICE's early research targets. "It's a disease that presents a very attractive first step for investigation," Dawson says.




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