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Press Release

4 Sep 2014

Van Andel Research Institute announces Rallying to the Challenge panelists

Grand Rapids, Mich. (Sept. 4, 2014) ‚ÄstVan Andel Research Institute is excited to announce the panelists for Rallying to the Challenge, a meeting focused on people with Parkinson‚Äôs and their contributions to clinical trials.

Rallying to the Challenge will address barriers to clinical trials and examine how people with Parkinson’s can work with scientists and clinicians to improve the clinical trial process. The panel is made up of some of the world’s leading Parkinson’s disease advocates and will have representatives from some of the most well known Parkinson’s disease organizations in the world.

‚ÄúBy getting everyone‚ÄĒpeople with Parkinson‚Äôs, scientists, doctors, caregivers and advocates‚ÄĒin one room, we have a unique opportunity to have real and impactful discussions,‚ÄĚ said Dr. Patrik Brundin, VARI Associate Director of Research and Director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Science. ‚ÄúThese discussions will inform the development of a toolkit to aid in the design of clinical trials, which we hope will have a positive impact on patients and scientists alike.‚ÄĚ

Rallying to the Challenge will include breakout sessions that will focus on three areas‚ÄĒpracticalities, perceptions and teamwork. The last point‚ÄĒteamwork‚ÄĒwill be the focus of a talk given by Brian Grant, a retired professional athlete who played 12 seasons as a power forward in the NBA. Grant founded the Brian Grant Foundation after he was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson‚Äôs disease in 2008.

The panel includes:

David Ashford-Jones‚ÄĒParkinson‚Äôs disease advocate

Cherise Bjornsgard‚ÄĒExecutive Director, the Brian Grant Foundation

Jean Burns‚ÄĒCo-founder, PDPlan4Life; Co-chair of the Parkinson‚Äôs Advocates Committee, World Parkinson Congress 2016

Jill Carson‚ÄĒParkinGo Wellness Society founder, Canada

Ken Cater‚ÄĒParkinson‚Äôs Association of Alabama president

Polly Dawkins‚ÄĒExecutive Director, Davis Phinney Foundation

Steve DeWitt‚ÄĒParkinson‚Äôs Movement Steering Committee member; founder and CEO, Connecticut Advocates for Parkinson‚Äôs

Brian Grant‚ÄĒFounder of the Brian Grant Foundation, retired NBA star

Sam Hafield‚ÄĒCEO, The Cure Parkinson‚Äôs Trust

Tom Isaacs‚ÄĒCo-founder of The Cure Parkinson‚Äôs Trust and Parkinson‚Äôs Movement

Alan Lewin‚ÄĒProject associate, The Cure Parkinson‚Äôs Trust

Bruce Mabee‚ÄĒParkinson‚Äôs Disease Foundation research advocate; Lead facilitator and president, Ann Arbor‚Äôs Parkinson‚Äôs Support Group

Claudia Marshall‚ÄĒResearch Partnership Assistant, Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson‚Äôs Research

Helen Matthews‚ÄĒTrust Coordinator, The Cure Parkinson‚Äôs Trust

Dr. Soania Mathur‚ÄĒParkinson‚Äôs disease advocate; Patient Council member, Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson‚Äôs Research

Samuel Ng‚ÄĒPresident and co-founder, Perak Parkinson‚Äôs Association (Malaysia)

Dr. Jon Palfreman‚ÄĒ Award-winning author, journalist and documentary film producer

Eli Pollard‚ÄĒExecutive Director, World Parkinson Coalition

Israel Robledo‚ÄĒParkinson‚Äôs Movement Steering Committee member

Ron Rutkowski‚ÄĒParkinson‚Äôs disease advocate

Dr. Peter Schmidt‚ÄĒCIO and Vice President, Research and Professional Programs‚ÄĒNational Parkinson Foundation

Dr. Jon Stamford‚ÄĒDirector and co-founder of Parkinson‚Äôs Movement

Ryan Tripp‚ÄĒCanadian ambassador for the World Parkinson Congress

Dr. Claire Stephenson‚ÄĒResearch Support Network Manager, Parkinson‚Äôs UK

Bill Wilkins‚ÄĒCharter member, Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson‚Äôs Research Patient Council;¬† charter member, Emory University‚Äôs Morris K. Udall Center of Excellence for Parkinson‚Äôs Disease Research Community Outreach Board

Peggy Willocks‚ÄĒWorld renowned Parkinson‚Äôs ambassador and clinical trial participant; assistant director, Parkinson‚Äôs Action Network-Tennessee

Richard Windle‚ÄĒResearch Support Network Advocate, Parkinson‚Äôs UK

Rallying to the Challenge is hosted in conjunction with U.K.-based Parkinson’s research organization The Cure Parkinson’s Trust, and Parkinson’s Movement, a global task force of influential patient advocates committed to demonstrating the value of proactive roles for people with Parkinson’s in the clinical trial arena.

‚ÄúRallying to the Challenge represents a rare opportunity for key people with Parkinson‚Äôs from around the world to pool resources and to establish innovative ways to help accelerate progress in clinical trials for Parkinson‚Äôs,‚ÄĚ said Tom Isaacs, co-founder of The Cure Parkinson‚Äôs Trust and Parkinson‚Äôs Movement. ‚ÄúThe meeting will also give us a chance to discuss these ideas with the scientific community so that the barriers to development on new therapies can be overcome without delay.‚ÄĚ

Rallying to the Challenge will be held during VARI’s Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease symposium on September 24-25 at Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids, Mich. Registration for Grand Challenges is open until Sept. 15. Registration for Rallying to the Challenge is currently closed. Please contact Kim Cousineau at Kim.Cousineau@vai.org or at 616.234.5684 for more information.

For more information on Rallying to the Challenge and Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease, please visit www.grandchallengesinpd.org.