Van Andel Research Institute hosts unique symposium on Parkinson’s disease


Grand Rapids, Mich. (Sept. 25, 2017)—Leading Parkinson’s experts and advocates from around the world will gather at Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan, this month for Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease, a scientific event highlighting the latest breakthroughs in Parkinson’s research and treatment. The 6th annual symposium will include talks from 19 scientific speakers, a poster session and extensive networking opportunities.

Who: Members of the Grand Rapids community, Parkinson’s clinicians and scientists from Van Andel Research Institute’s research team.

Interview opportunities include:
Patrik Brundin, VARI’s director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Science
J. William Langston, founder, The Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center
Israel Robledo, Parkinson’s Movement Executive Council
Alison Sheltrown, Parkinson’s advocate and patient

WhatGrand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease and Rallying to the Challenge
When: Sept. 27 and Sept. 28
Where: Van Andel Institute, 333 Bostwick NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Agendas for the symposium and the meeting may be found at: www.grandchallengesinpd.org/schedule and www.grandchallengesinpd.org/rallying.

“Bringing together scientists, physicians and people with Parkinson’s creates a unique and impactful forum for propelling research aimed at improving patients’ quality of life,” said Patrik Brundin, M.D., Ph.D., director of VARI’s Center for Neurodegenerative Science and chair of the symposium’s planning committee. “As our population ages, the number of people with Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases is expected to increase. Symposia such as this are essential to fostering a collaborative approach to finding new and better treatments.”

In parallel with Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease, the Institute will host a patient-focused meeting called Rallying to the Challenge. This event aims to amplify the voices of people with Parkinson’s and influence research, particularly in the areas of clinical trials and novel therapeutic development. It will feature discussions about advocacy, brainstorming sessions and question and answer opportunities with scientists, physicians and advocates. Rallying to the Challenge is organized by Parkinson’s advocates in collaboration with The Cure Parkinson’s Trust, a London-based research charity dedicated to finding a cure for the disease, and Parkinson’s Movement, an initiative of the Trust created for and run by people with Parkinson’s.

Both events will explore the role of metabolism in the onset and progression of Parkinson’s and showcase efforts to find therapies that slow or stop disease progression—something no current treatment can do. Drug repurposing, or using drugs developed to treat one disease as a treatment for another, also will be highlighted, particularly results for a recent clinical trial that indicate a diabetes drug may interfere with Parkinson’s.

“Collaboration is key to moving research forward,” said Israel Robledo, a Parkinson’s advocate and member of the Parkinson’s Movement executive council. “Rallying to the Challenge gives us an opportunity to do this by providing input to the research community about issues that are important to the patient community.”


Van Andel Institute (VAI) is an independent nonprofit biomedical research and science education organization committed to improving the health and enhancing the lives of current and future generations. Established by Jay and Betty Van Andel in 1996 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, VAI has grown into a premier research and educational institution that supports the work of more than 360 scientists, educators and staff. Van Andel Research Institute (VARI), VAI’s research division, is dedicated to determining the epigenetic, genetic, molecular and cellular origins of cancer, Parkinson’s and other diseases and translating those findings into effective therapies. The Institute’s scientists work in onsite laboratories and participate in collaborative partnerships that span the globe. Learn more about Van Andel Institute or donate by visiting www.vai.org. 100% To Research, Discovery & Hope®

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