2022 Tom Isaacs Award honors leading Parkinson’s researchers and co-authors of Ending Parkinson’s

NOTE: This release was originally published by Cure Parkinson’s.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Sept. 29, 2022) — Cure Parkinson’s and Van Andel Institute (VAI) are delighted to announce Dr. Ray Dorsey, the David Levy Professor of Neurology at the University of Rochester, and Dr. Michael Okun, Chair and the Adelaide Lackner Professor of Neurology at the University of Florida, as joint winners of the Tom Isaacs Award. The award was presented on Sept. 29 during the parallel, annual Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease symposium and Rallying to the Challenge meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Drs. Dorsey and Okun, together with Todd Sherer, CEO of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. and Dr. Bastiaan Bloem, a previous Tom Isaacs Award winner, co-authored the vitally important book Ending Parkinson’s, an inspiring call to action which highlights the urgent need for better education about Parkinson’s and sets out a plan to “Prevent, Advocate, Care and Treat (PACT) one of the great health challenges of our time.”

Since the publication of Ending Parkinson’s, the book has triggered two exciting developments. Dr. Dorsey has helped co-author a paper with the World Health Organisation (WHO), which addresses Parkinson’s as a global health priority and which builds upon many of the recommendations in the book.

Ending Parkinson’s has also been a catalyst for a huge step forward by the U.S. government. Congress has recently introduced legislation to “End Parkinson’s Disease,” a movement encompassing the principals of PACT recommended by the authors.

Drs. Dorsey and Okun are shining examples of the very essence of the Tom Isaacs award, which was set up in memory of Cure Parkinson’s late co-founder and president, to recognize a researcher who has significantly impacted the lives of people living with Parkinson’s and has involved people with Parkinson’s in a participatory way in their work.

In addition to their inspiration work on Ending Parkinson’s and the movements for change it is sparking, Drs. Dorsey and Okun continue to work tirelessly for the Parkinson’s community, striving to create better opportunities for those living with the condition and driving forward the goal of ending Parkinson’s for good.

Dr. Dorsey, who also directs the Center for Health + Technology at University of Rochester, has for the past decade pioneered technologies to improve care and speed up research for those living with Parkinson’s and other neurological conditions.

Dr. Okun is the National Medical Director of the Parkinson’s Foundation, the largest Parkinson’s disease patient and advocacy group in the U.S. A world leading researcher, Dr. Okun has advanced surgical treatments for people living with Parkinson’s, and has authored over 500 publications including the book Parkinson’s Treatment: 10 Secrets to a Better Life, that has been translated into 20 languages and is a bestseller for patients and families.

Helen Matthews, Deputy CEO of Cure Parkinson’s, said:

“We are so thrilled to present the 2022 award jointly to Ray and Michael for the incredible work they have inspired with the WHO and with Congress in driving towards ending Parkinson’s. Thank you, both, for all that you do.”

Cure Parkinson’s and VAI also are delighted to present Professor Patrik Brundin with an Honorary Award for Outstanding Contribution as he steps down from his position as chair of the International Linked Clinical Trials Committee. Professor Brundin, who recently moved from Van Andel Institute to lead the Therapeutic Area for Movement Disorders worldwide, in the Neuroscience and Rare Diseases division of Roche in Basel, Switzerland, guided the discussion of more than 250 detailed dossiers of drugs with the potential to change the progression of Parkinson’s, enabling the committee to prioritize more than 45 drugs for clinical testing. His inspirational leadership has been the backbone of the iLCT process to date, and has enabled iLCT to grow into the flourishing programme that it is today.


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About Cure Parkinson’s
We’re here for the cure. Cure Parkinson’s is working with urgency to find new treatments to slow, stop and reverse Parkinson’s. Our funding and innovation has redefined the field of Parkinson’s research, enabling the world’s leading researchers to prioritise the next generation of drugs for clinical trial. Together we will conquer Parkinson’s.

Further information at cureparkinsons.org.uk

Cure Parkinson’s is the operating name of The Cure Parkinson’s Trust. The Cure Parkinson’s Trust is a registered charity in England and Wales (1111816) and Scotland (SCO44368) and is a company limited by guarantee – company number 5539974 (England and Wales).

About Van Andel Institute
Van Andel Institute (VAI) is committed to improving the health and enhancing the lives of current and future generations through cutting edge biomedical research and innovative educational offerings. Established in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1996 by the Van Andel family, VAI is now home to nearly 500 scientists, educators and support staff, who work with a growing number of national and international collaborators to foster discovery. The Institute’s scientists study the origins of cancer, Parkinson’s and other diseases and translate their findings into breakthrough prevention and treatment strategies. Our educators develop inquiry-based approaches for K-12 education to help students and teachers prepare the next generation of problem-solvers, while our Graduate School offers a rigorous, research-intensive Ph.D. program in molecular and cellular biology. Learn more at vai.org.