Why We are Supporting the Morton & Gloria Shulman Movement Disorders Centre, Part III: Dr. Anthony Strafella

The Morton & Gloria Shulman Movement Disorders Centre is a world leader in Parkinson’s research.  This was recently confirmed when the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (PDF) announced that it would fund a research project by one of the Centre’s scientists, Dr. Antonio Strafella.  Based in New York, PDF funds promising scientific research around the globe.  Its research goals include revealing the cause(s) of Parkinson’s disease, advancing therapies, and finding a cure.

Dr. Strafella is a neurologist with expertise in movement disorders and functional brain imaging.  His studies focus on investigating the pathophysiology of motor, cognitive and behavioral symptoms in Parkinson’s disease.  His latest project, “Imaging Impulsive Control Disorders in PD,” follows this pattern.  The abstract for his research project reads:

Some people who take dopamine agonists to treat motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD) develop side effects such as compulsive eating, gambling, shopping, or sexual activity. Together, these side effects are called impulse control disorders (ICDs). Scientists suspect that dopamine agonists may change the way some people’s brains perceive risks and rewards. As a result, some people who take dopamine agonists may have trouble controlling harmful behaviors that produce temporary feelings of pleasure or “highs.” We plan to use a type of brain scan – positron emission tomography (PET) scanning – to examine the brains of people with PD, with and without ICDs. Each participant will be injected with a small amount of a radioactive “tracer” that will allow us to observe dopamine levels in the brain. By comparing the scans of people with PD who suffer from ICDs to scans of people with PD who do not have an ICD, we may be able to determine brain differences that cause some people to develop ICDs. Understanding these differences may help better diagnose and treat ICDs in people with PD.

In its media release announcing the funding, PDF quoted its President, Robin Anthony Elliott, as follows:

By supporting these 14 talented scientists, PDF is ensuring that a special few daring ideas will not be left on a laboratory bookshelf.  Instead, they will be explored for their potential to improve the lives and futures of the people who live with Parkinson’s…

We applaud Dr. Strafella and the rest of the team at the Morton & Gloria Shulman Movement Disorders Centre who have dedicated their professional lives to improving the lives of their patients.

Harry McMurtry
Shake It Up for Parkinson’s

*Don’t miss a special evening with rock legend Tom Cochrane in support of the Morton & Gloria Shulman Movement Disorders Centre at the Toronto Western Hospital. Set in the fabulous Capital Event Theatre, the event will include an open bar, great food, a silent auction and amazing entertainment.