Focus On Parkinson's Disease Research

Focus On Parkinson's Disease Research

Older woman with hands crossed over legs. Focus On Parkinson's Disease banner image.

NINDS Program Description

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic, progressive movement disorder that affects the lives of between 500,000 and 1 million Americans (Neurology. 2007 Jan 30;68(5):326-37; Neurology. 2007 Jan 30;68(5):384-6; Mov Disord. 2013 Mar;28(3):311-8; NPJ Parkinsons Dis. 2018 Jul 10;4:21.). The average onset of characteristic motor symptoms, which are initially subtle and impact purposeful movement, occurs in the sixth decade. People with PD also experience non-motor symptoms including changes in mood, problems with attention and memory, sleep disturbances, fatigue, and changes in bowel and bladder function that may have considerable impact on quality of life. Currently available pharmacological and surgical treatments provide relief from some motor symptoms, but do not halt the ultimate progression of the disease. Although significant research advances have been made, including the recent identification of possible environmental and genetic risk factors for PD, further research is required to elucidate underlying causes of PD and to discover improved treatments.

For general information, please see the NINDS Parkinson's Disease Information Page and NINDS Hope Through Research: Parkinson's Disease.

For further information on NINDS programs for Parkinson's Disease research, please contact

At the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the NINDS is the primary institute supporting PD research:

Estimates of Funding for Various Research, Condition, and Disease Categories

Research/Disease Areas* FY 2018
FY 2018
FY 2020
FY 2021 (est)
Parkinson's Disease $193 $224 $242 $249

*Dollars in millions and rounded

Proceedings & Outcomes

NINDS Parkinson's Disease 2014 Conference: Advancing Research, Improving Lives: To inform ongoing and future efforts in PD research, the NINDS organized the “PD2014” conference (January 6-7, 2014). At this public meeting, participants assessed significant challenges and identified the highest research priorities for advancing basic, translational and clinical research on PD. Identified research priorities and access to the archived meeting webcast are available.

Resources and Tools

BioSEND houses biospecimens collected through NINDS-supported studies including phase 2 and 3 clinical trials along with an array of studies focused on biomarkers of disease susceptibility, onset and progression. The primary goal of the BioSEND repository is standardize biospeciment collection and distribution to facilitate research on PD and neurological disorders. BioSEND currently banks a variety of biospecimens, including DNA, plasma, serum, RNA, CSF, urine, and saliva.

NHCDR provides well-characterized cell sources to both academic and industry investigators to advance the study of neurological disorders including PD.  Cell sources currently include fibroblasts and/or induced pluripotent stem cells.  NHCDR also provides new tools for analytics, searching and ordering for all components of the repository.

The NINDS Data Management Resource (DMR) advances Parkinson's research through the support of electronic data capture, clinical site management, data quality assessment and data access. This resource provides researchers with tools that allow for the collection and quality assurance of data in a standardized format.  In addition, the DMR coordinates entry of de-identified data into a common database, enabling the query and distribution of aggregate, harmonized clinical data.

Common Data Elements (CDEs) are standards that enable clinical investigators to systematically collect, analyze and share harmonized data across the research community. The NINDS strongly encourages researchers who receive funding from the Institute to ensure their data collection is compatible with these CDEs.

The NIH-funded NeuroBioBank (NBB) is a national resource and repository for human post-mortem brain tissue and related biospecimens that are crucial to understand both healthy brain function and nervous system dysfunction in nervous system disorders, including PD. The goals of the NBB are to 1) increase the availability of human disease and control brains  by increasing public awareness of the value of tissue donation for understanding brain disorders; 2) facilitate the distribution of high quality, well characterized human post-mortem brain tissue for the research community; and 3) to serve as a centralized research resource of best practices and protocols used by six networked sites in the acquisition, preparation, and distribution of tissue.

  • Public: learn about the crucial need for brain donation and how the gift of brain donation can advance knowledge of neurological disorders, including PD. The NIH NeuroBioBank has partnered with The Brain Donor Project to help potential donors register for brain donation.
  • Researchers:  browse the inventory of available samples and learn how to request tissue from NBB.

This website provides an overview of the successful development of DBS as a therapy for PD, including contributions from basic neuroscience research and clinical studies supported by the NINDS and NIH.