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The Morris K. Udall Center of Excellence for Parkinson's Disease Research at the University of Washington


Director: Thomas J. Montine, M.D., Ph.D.

Title: Pacific Northwest Udall Center (PANUC)


Budget End Date: 7/31/2020

Central Theme

The focus of the Pacific Northwest Udall Center (PANUC) is a combined effort of the University of Washington and Oregon Health & Sciences University to develop solutions for cognitive impairment in Parkinson’s disease. We strive to understand the basis of this prevalent problem for patients and—through both clinical and basic research—to discover improved diagnostics and new therapeutic targets. PANUC brings together a multidisciplinary group of investigators focused on improving our understanding of cognitive impairment in Parkinson’s disease. Projects within and linked to the Center are designed to provide important insights into the pathophysiology of cognitive impairment in Parkinson’s disease. Equally important, PANUC serves as a unique resource for other investigators interested in translational and clinical investigations of cognitive impairment in Parkinson’s disease, including those at other Udall Centers.

Center Structure

Core A: Administrative and Outreach Core
Thomas J. Montine, MD, PhD
This Core provides administrative oversight for PANUC at our two institutions (see Core B) and facilitates interaction between PANUC and many local and national groups that support and advocate for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Training and community engagement continue to be high priorities for PANUC. Over the last year, PANUC investigators have led or contributed to dozens of training sessions, opportunities for multiple clinical or research fellows utilizing PANUC resources, and over 25 community events.

Core B: Clinical Core
Joseph F. Quinn, MD
This Core focuses on generating a unique resource for translation and clinical research in Parkinson’s disease. The Clinical Sample (CS) is a large sample designed to allow investigation of genetic factors for cognitive impairment in Parkinson’s disease. CS participants undergo a limited motor and cognitive evaluation and blood draw for DNA and biomarkers twice during their enrollment in PANUC. The Annual Sample (AS) is a smaller sample of patients with Parkinson’s disease who undergo more detailed annual motor and cognitive evaluations. In addition to blood draw for DNA and biomarkers, AS participants undergo lumbar puncture for cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarker studies and are asked to participate in the autopsy protocol. Core B has expanded its impact by entering into close collaboration with Northwest Neurological in Spokane, the University of Cincinnati, and Emory University.

Core C: Genetics, Biomarkers, and Neuropathology (GBN)
Cyrus Zabetian, MD and Jing Zhang, MD, PhD
This Core is the repository for collected blood, CSF, and autopsy material. It performs a standardized set of evaluations for genetic markers, plasma/serum and CSF biomarkers, and neuropathologic characterization of brain autopsy material. The GBN Core is closely linked with the NINDS Parkinson’s Disease Biomarker Program (PDBP) to which it supplies CSF for analysis and participant data. The GBN Core also collaborates extensively on projects supported by the Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF), several other Udall Centers, and other qualified investigators focused on translational research in Parkinson’s disease.

Relationship of Center Goals to the NINDS PD2014 Research Recommendations

The following summarizes PANUC goals that address the research recommendations from the NINDS conference “Parkinson’s Disease 2014: Advancing Research, Improving Lives” as well as the 2013 NIH meeting on Alzheimer’s Disease Related Dementias, including Lewy Body Dementias:

Alignment of PANUC Components with NINDS Goals


“Parkinson’s disease 2014: Advancing Research, Improving Lives”

“Alzheimer’s Disease Related Dementias”

PANUC Component

Research Priority #

Research Priority #




Parkinson’s disease with Dementia

CR Core


1 & 4

1, 3, & 7


GBN Core


1 & 4

1, 3, & 7

2 & 4



1, 2, 4, & 7

1, 2, 3, 4, & 8

2 & 6


Resources Available 

The major research resource being built by PANUC consists of the extensive systematic clinical information, diagnosis, and neuropsychometric data harmonized across multiple sites coupled with DNA, plasma/serum, cerebrospinal fluid, and autopsy tissue. We achieved full target enrollment of our Annual Sample (n=145) and Clinical Sample (n=456). In addition, we also have assembled a PANUC Cognitive Genetics Consortium in which multiple sites from around the US employ common protocols, diagnostic criteria, and test batteries to further amplify sample sizes of uniformly evaluated subjects with Parkinson’s disease. This cooperation provides a powerful resource for clinical, psychological, genetic, and biomarker research focused on cognitive impairment in Parkinson’s disease. PANUC shares these resources widely within the Udall Program and others focused on developing solutions for cognitive impairment in Parkinson’s disease.

Plans for the Coming Year

Overall, our plans for the next year are to continue our Core functions that focus on outreach, education, patient recruitment, detailed psychometric testing, and development of biological and data resources.

Select Recent Publications


  1. Kelly VE, Johnson CO, McGough EL, Shumway-Cook A, Horak FB, Chung KA, Espay AJ, Revilla FJ, Devoto J, Wood-Siverio C, Factor SA, Cholerton B, Edwards KL, Peterson AL, Quinn JF, Montine TJ, Zabetian CP, Leverenz JB. Association of cognitive domains with postural instability/gait disturbance in Parkinson's disease. Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2015 Jul;21(7):692-7. PMCID: PMC4524498 [Available on 2016-07-01]
  2. Madhyastha TM, Askren MK, Boord P, Zhang J, Leverenz JB, Grabowski TJ. Cerebral perfusion and cortical thickness indicate cortical involvement in mild Parkinson's disease. Mov Disord. 2015 Dec:30(14):1893-900. PMCID: PMC4567553 [Available on 2016-12-01]
  3. Mata IF, Leverenz JB, Weintraub D, Trojanowski JQ, Chen-Plotkin A, Van Deerlin VM, Ritz B, Rausch R, Factor SA, Wood-Siverio C, Quinn JF, Chung KA, Peterson-Hiller AL, Goldman JG, Stebbins GT, Bernard B, Espay AJ, Revilla FJ, Devoto J, Rosenthal LS, Dawson TM, Albert MS, Tsuang D, Huston H, Yearout D, Hu SC, Cholerton BA, Montine TJ, Edwards KL, Zabetian CP. GBA Variants are associated with a distinct pattern of cognitive deficits in Parkinson's disease. Mov Disord. 2016 Jan: 31(1):95-102. PMCID: PMC4724255 [Available on 2017-01-01].
  4. Peterson DS, Fling BW, Mancini M, Cohen RG, Nutt JG, Horak FB. Dual-task interference and brain structural connectivity in people with Parkinson's disease who freeze. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2015 Jul;86(7):786-92. PMCID: PMC4363035

Public Health Statement

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that over a half million people in the United States suffer from Parkinson’s disease, causing untold suffering to patients as well as their caregivers and other loved ones. The physical, emotional, and societal costs of Parkinson's disease (PD) will increase over the coming decades as more of us live longer; in fact, the number of patients with PD is expected to double in the United States by the year 2030 unless we find safe and effective means to cure, delay onset, or slow progression of this disease. Cognitive impairment is a common feature of PD that is disabling for patients, challenging to caregivers, and costly to health care systems. Our Center is focused on the clear imperative to find better tools for diagnosis and better ways to treat cognitive impairment in patients with PD.

Last Modified February 1, 2016