VA Establishes Six Parkinson's Disease Centers

From: "Bruce K Melson" <>


Dept of Veteran Affairs, Wash DC

February 7, 2001

VA Establishes Six Parkinson's Disease Centers
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has taken a
major step toward improving care and pursuing a cure for Parkinson's disease
by creating six new centers specializing in research, education and clinical
care and committing more than $30 million to support the centers over the
next four years.
"VA recognizes the importance of supporting research and clinical activities
to enhance the care for patients with this disabling neurological disorder,"
said Dr. Thomas L. Garthwaite, VA's Under Secretary for Health.

"By establishing these six specialized centers, we will enable top VA
researchers, clinicians and educators to better understand Parkinson's
disease, develop more effective treatments and clinical care strategies for
patients, and improve education for caregivers," he said.

The centers, named Parkinson's Disease Research, Education and Clinical
Centers (PADRECCs), will be established this year at VA medical centers in
Houston, Philadelphia, Portland (Ore.), Richmond, San Francisco and West Los

Operating as a national consortium, the new centers will function similarly
to VA's Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Centers (GRECCs) and
Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Centers (MIRECCs).

Each Parkinson's center will conduct research covering basic biomedicine,
rehabilitation, health services delivery and clinical trials.  In addition,
each center will participate in a landmark clinical trial to assess the
effectiveness of surgical implantation of deep brain stimulators in reducing
the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

Parkinson's disease is slowly progressive and caused by degeneration of
cells in a region of the midbrain that produces the chemical and
neurotransmitter dopamine.  Symptoms are characterized by tremors, slowness
of movement, stiffness of limbs and gait or balance problems.  While
treatments exist, there is no cure for this debilitating disease.

Parkinson's disease is a serious health problem in the United States.  The
National Parkinson Foundation, Inc. (NPF) estimates that up to 1.5 million
Americans have the disease and that approximately 50,000 new cases are
diagnosed each year.  VA medical centers treat at least 20,000 Parkinson's
disease patients each year.

Creation of the new centers represents the second substantial VA initiative
regarding Parkinson's disease in two years.  In 1999, VA and the NPF signed
an agreement to establish the NPF-VA alliance to cure Parkinson's disease.

"This is an historic opportunity for VA and a continuation of VA's
commitment to provide the best care for our veterans," said Garthwaite.  "We
are very optimistic that VA's support for this research, clinical care, and
education effort will result in significant progress.  It provides
additional hope for veterans and all Americans affected by Parkinson's



"When the way comes to an end, then change - having changed, you pass through."

      I. Ching


 Bruce "Doc". Melson