I am pleased to share accomplishments of the clinical and research team at the Parkinson’s Disease Center and Movement Disorders Clinic from the past year. Our success is made possible thanks to the dedication of friends like you.
I hope this summary will inspire generous support so we can continue to provide the most expert and compassionate care, while advancing research and treatment of Parkinson’s disease, other parkinsonian disorders such as progressive supranuclear palsy, multiple system atrophy, corticobasal syndrome and other movement disorders, including tremors, dystonia, Tourette syndrome and Huntington disease.
Your support will help fund our highly regarded movement disorders fellowship program. While many movement disorder training programs remain unfilled, we are gratified to have a large number of applicants every year for a limited number of available positions. We rely on the generosity of our donors, foundations and industry to fund our fellowship program, which I direct (see below).
In addition to our educational and research activities, we have been recognized as a Center of Excellence by the Parkinson’s Foundation and Tourette Association of America. I am proud to announce that this year we have also received the highly prestigious designation of “Cure PSP Center of Care.”
Below are some highlights of accomplishments by me and other PDCMDC faculty.
Joseph Jankovic, M.D.
There are many ways to measure scholarly productivity. The “h-index” is used as the most important metric for academic footprint. Having an h-index of 60 is considered “exceptional” (84% of Nobel prize winners in physics, for example, had an h-index of at least 30). My h-index is 192. This achievement reflects frequent citations of my publications by other authors.
During the past year, I was invited to lecture at Croatian Catholic University School of Medicine, Zagreb, Croatia and the University of Bologna, Italy, the oldest university in the world, where I was honored by an appointment as the first international member of the Bologna Medical and Surgical Society. I also lectured at the University of Arizona, University of California at San Diego, National Institutes of Health, 33rd annual course on Movement Disorders in Aspen, Colorado, and various international meetings, including the Samuel Belzberg 6th International Dystonia Symposium, Dublin, Ireland, the International Congress of Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders, Copenhagen, Denmark, and Congress for Brazilian Movement Disorder Neurologists, Maceio, Brazil.
Joshua Shulman, M.D., Ph.D.
Recent investigations by Dr. Shulman and his team have focused on understanding neurotoxic mechanisms of alpha-synuclein and tau proteins, which contribute to neurodegeneration associated with Parkinson's disease and progressive supranuclear palsy. Using a Parkinson's disease model in the fruit fly, they found that loss of GBA and other lysosomal storage disorder genes can enhance neurodegeneration caused by alpha-synuclein protein. This approach was used to consider 160 additional Parkinson's disease candidate genes, highlighting dozens of novel promising targets. They also recently discovered that the tau protein can trigger a brain gene expression signature suggestive of accelerated aging. The PDCMDC was the first center to contribute genetic samples to the Global Parkinson’s Genetics Program, a major initiative to identify new Parkinson's disease-related genes.
Nora Vanegas, M.D.
Dr. Vanegas graduated from the American Academy of Neurology - Diversity Leadership Program 2022-23 and was appointed to the editorial board of the Brain & Life Magazine. She continues to apply for funding to pursue unique research in the field of Neuromodulation, including Spinal Cord Stimulation, Deep Brain Stimulation and Focused Ultrasound. In collaboration with Dr. Jankovic, she published a systematic review on the effects of spinal cord stimulation for gait disturbances in Parkinson's disease. Among several invited lectures, she recently discussed the effects of bilateral Deep Brain Stimulation and Focused Ultrasound for the treatment of tremor at the 2nd International Tremor Congress in New York City.
Arjun Tarakad, M.D.
Dr. Tarakad has continued his focus on community education and close work with the Houston Area Parkinson’s Society, including presentations for newly diagnosed Parkinson's disease patients, discussion of surgical interventions at the Engage-Educate-Empower Symposium and organization of the first HAPS research fair. He continues to work with the Rice University neuroscience program in educating and guiding high school and college students interested in careers in neurology. Dr. Tarakad also continues to direct Baylor’s growing DBS program.
Steven Bellows, M.D.
Dr. Bellows continues to expand his role in medical education. In addition to his undergraduate medical education duties as the neurology sub-internship director, he has taken on the role of the neurology clerkship site director at Ben Taub Hospital. He has also taken on a new role as the associate program director for the movement disorders fellowship at the PDCMDC. His contributions to resident teaching were recognized by receiving the faculty teaching award, as voted by the neurology residents. He has continued to expand the supportive care clinic at the PDCMDC as the local palliative care champion. He serves as the primary investigator in several clinical trials targeting a wide variety of movement disorder conditions.
Charenya Anandan, M.D.
Dr. Anandan’s expertise in electromyography and ultrasound led her to develop special interest in guided botulinum toxin injections for focal dystonia (involuntary muscle contractions in one body part). She is also involved in undergraduate medical education at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center and serves as the neurology clerkship site director. She participates as a sub-investigator in multiple clinical trials at the PDCMDC. This year, she was selected to participate in the Vanderbilt Junior Faculty Forum where she presented on continuous dopaminergic therapies and tardive dyskinesia. She partnered with the HAPS and gave a lecture on deep brain simulation for Parkinson's disease.
Roy Lin, M.D., M.P.H.
During the past year, Dr. Lin was featured twice by The Washington Post to discuss stiff-person syndrome and frontotemporal dementia. For patient care and teaching services, Dr. Lin was awarded the Power of Professionalism and annual Neurology Faculty Teaching award by Baylor College of Medicine. The American Neurological Association invited him to give a lecture at the 2023 annual meeting, discussing the disparity, medical education and research for LGBTQ+ neurology patients. With the support of Dr. Jankovic, the PDCMDC was designated in 2023 by the CurePSP Foundation as the Center of Care for progressive supranuclear palsy, multiple system atrophy, and corticobasal syndrome. Dr. Lin has served as the director with the goal to promote awareness and collaborative research for PDCMDC’s patients with atypical parkinsonian disorders.
I am very proud of our achievements and grateful for the generous support of friends like you.
With warm appreciation,
Joseph Jankovic, M.D.