Research Targets Neurological Diseases

2012 ACE

Gala Co-Chairs Julie Karagianis and Gayle Stellas with Dr. Maraganore

If you know someone with Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, a brain injury or a friend or family member who gets debilitating migraines, you might be eager to learn that research being conducted at NorthShore University HealthSystem (NorthShore) today could one day change their lives – and those of patients like them worldwide.

NorthShore has embarked on several neurological studies under the direction of Demetrius M. Maraganore, MD, Medical Director of the NorthShore Neurological Institute and the Ruth Cain Ruggles Chairman of the Department of Neurology. Proceeds from The Auxiliary of NorthShore at Evanston & Glenbrook Hospitals’ Gala, Latin Nights, City Lights, which will be held June 23 at the Hilton Chicago, will support Dr.  Maraganore’s research into Parkinson’s disease and 10 other neurological conditions, such as Brain tumors, Epilepsy, Restless Legs Syndrome, Stroke and others.

The research project has begun focusing on Parkinson’s disease, which Dr. Maraganore studied for decades while at the Mayo Clinic before he joined NorthShore. “I’ve been caring for patients with Parkinson’s disease since 1989, and throughout the years I’ve seen patients suffer and lose the ability to stand and walk,” said Dr. Maraganore. “I’ve seen patients and their families suffer as they are institutionalized with dementia and die an early death.  For me to do this type of research and move forward with philanthropic support is the most gratifying work. This is my life’s purpose and I am very hopeful that this will make a real difference to patients and their families soon,” he added.

Initially funded with a $1 million commitment from The Auxiliary, The DodoNA Project: DNA Prediction to Improve Neurological Health (named for the oracle of Dodona, where in ancient Greece leaders would visit to obtain predictions of the future) aims to develop methods to interpret subtle variations in a patient’s DNA. By studying those indicators, physician scientists will be able to predict progression and outcomes, and improve the lives of patients living with neurological diseases.

To date, 150 patients have been enrolled in the Parkinson’s disease study, with the migraine study being enrolled now. Studies for patients with MS, sleep troubles and traumatic brain injury will begin over the summer. By using NorthShore’s award-winning Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system to build “smart forms” and collect DNA samples from willing patients, researchers will develop predictive tests and targeted therapies to improve outcomes for patients.  Dr. Maraganore anticipates that all 11 studies of 1,000 participants each will be fully implemented by October 2014.

To learn more about supporting his ground-breaking research through the 40th annual Hospitals’ Gala, please visit northshore.org/gala.

Dr. Maraganore is one of the featured experts at “Innovations in Parkinson’s Disease Treatment: The Leading Edge,” a public education program co-sponsored by NorthShore University HealthSystem and Mayo Clinic on Saturday, April 14, at the Renaissance Hotel in Northbrook. For more information or to register for the event, visit mayoclinic.org/morning.

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