I hope this letter finds you well. On behalf of the Parkinson’s Disease Center and Movement Disorders Clinic, I am pleased to share highlights of activities and achievements from the past year.
Our success is made possible thanks to the generosity of supporters like you. I hope you’ll be inspired to continue your support of our world renown movement disorders fellowship program. Many of the alumni of our training program have become leaders in the field of Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders. For example, Francisco Cardoso, M.D., Ph.D., an alumnus of our program, is the current president of the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society, an umbrella organization for all movement disorders.
I am happy to report that, based on our accomplishments, our designation as the Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence has been extended for another five years. We have been also honored by extension of our Tourette Association of America Center of Excellence.
In addition to over 60 clinical trials and investigator-initiated studies, we have expanded our diagnostic program by providing skin biopsies to search for evidence of Parkinson’s disease and related disorders (synucleinopathies) in very early stages of the disease. We continue to provide the state-of-the art deep brain stimulation and other neuromodulation approaches to our patients and are now offering focused ultrasound as a new treatment for Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor.
Below are some highlights of accomplishments of the individual PDCMDC faculty.
Dr. Joseph Jankovic
The number of times that published findings are cited can be reflective of the impact or influence of the original academic work. Dr. Jankovic is the most cited researcher at Baylor College of Medicine and continues to be ranked #1 in the world in movement disorders (which includes Parkinson’s disease and other disorders manifested by abnormal movement), dyskinesias, and in botulinum toxin (expertscape.com). In addition to over 1,500 scientific articles, Dr. Jankovic published over 70 books, 4 in 2022!
During the past year Dr. Jankovic was invited to lecture at many universities and congresses around the world including Annual Meetings of the Mexican Academy of Neurology, Indian Movement Disorders Society, International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society, International Association of Parkinson and Related Disorders, Pennsylvania Neurological Society, 4th International Conference on Functional Neurological Disorders, and he has served as a lecturer and a visiting professor at University of California at San Diego, University of Texas Medical Branch, and the 33rd annual course on movement disorders in Aspen, Colorado.
Dr. Joshua Shulman completed a research study demonstrating that more than a dozen genes related to Gaucher’s disease can modulate neurodegeneration in an animal model of Parkinson’s disease. In another study, in a collaboration with Dr. Jankovic, Dr. Shulman explored how genome sequencing might soon be used as a clinical tool to enhance the evaluation of Parkinson’s disease. Among several invited lectures, Dr. Shulman presented his Parkinson’s disease research progress at an international workshop in Kolymbari, Crete in Greece.
Dr. Nora Vanegas has been promoted to associate professor of Neurology based on her research leadership and the quality of clinical care that she provides to patients with movement disorders. As a result of Dr. Vanegas’ accomplishments and her potential as a leader in the field, she has been accepted to the highly competitive American Academy of Neurology - Diversity Leadership Program 2022-23. Dr. Vanegas continues to pursue unique research in the field of Neuromodulation, including the first U.S. trial of Spinal Cord Stimulation for Parkinson’s related gait problems. In collaboration with the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Vanegas has published research using eye tracking technology to characterize visual exploration trends in patients with Parkinson’s disease.
Dr. Arjun Tarakad joined the Undiagnosed Diseases Network program, a NIH sponsored program seeking to identify rare genetic and other diseases in affected patients. Dr. Tarakad continues to be involved in community education serving as the chair of the education committee of the Houston Area Parkinson’s Society medical advisory board. He also engages high school and undergraduate students at Rice University’s “Neuro camp.”
Dr. Steven Bellows has started a new role in undergraduate medical education as director of the neurology sub-internship, a rotation for medical students who are interested in pursuing a career in neurology. His latest publication explores some of the latest theories as to the underlying causes of essential tremor. He will be serving as the primary investigator at the PDCMDC for multiple clinical trials that will be starting in the coming months. This past year, he was invited to serve on the medical advisory board for the Houston Area Parkinson’s Society (HAPS).
Dr. Charenya Anandan continues to use her unique training in neuromuscular medicine and movement disorders in evaluating complex patients with overlapping symptoms in these two different subspecialities of neurology. She is also establishing a niche practice in the utilization of EMG and ultrasound in the evaluation and management of focal dystonias. At Baylor College of Medicine, she received a teaching award from medical students who rotated through the neurology clerkship. She has been invited to speak at national and international conferences - ACNS 2022 (American Clinical Neurophysiology Society conference) and Toxins 2022.
Dr. Roy Lin was selected by the following societies to serve as a member with active responsibilities: the American Academy of Neurology movement disorders quality measure working group and International Parkinson and Movement Disorders Society ataxia study group. Dr. Lin was awarded the Baylor Junior Faculty Seed Award to conduct his clinical research, studying the compensatory mechanism of the cerebellum in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. His most recent work about the abnormal reward systems in Parkinson’s disease and cerebellar ataxia was published in Neurology. Dr. Lin has been invited to give several outreach talks, focusing on mitigating the disparity knowledge and care gap in Parkinson’s disease, including the sexual and gender minority (Davis Phinney Foundation and Parkinson’s News Today) and Mandarin-speaking population in Greater Houston area (The Light and Salt Association). He was also interviewed about the current understanding between loneliness and dementia based on the published scientific literatures (FOX 26 Houston – Houston’s Morning Show).
I am very proud of our achievements and grateful for the generous support of friends like you.
With warm appreciation,
Joseph Jankovic, M.D.