The mission of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) is to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease. As a part of this mission, the NINDS supports basic, translational and clinical research on Parkinson's disease (PD), a complex neurodegenerative disorder that progressively impairs the control of purposeful movement.
The NINDS Centers of Excellence program for PD research was developed in honor of former Congressman Morris K. Udall of Arizona, who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1961. Representative Udall was diagnosed with PD in 1979 and remained active in Congress until his retirement in 1991. On November 13, 1997, the President of the United States signed the Morris K. Udall Parkinson's Disease Research Act of 1997 into law (P.L. 105-78).
In 1997, the NINDS released a Request for Applications to establish the first Morris K. Udall Centers of Excellence in Parkinson's Disease Research. Udall Centers utilize a team-based, interdisciplinary research approach to elucidate the fundamental causes of PD as well as to improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients with Parkinson's and related neurodegenerative disorders.
The Morris K. Udall Centers of Excellence Program continues to forge a strong and innovative path in PD research. These Centers carry out important research on PD, including the identification and characterization of candidate and disease-associated genes, examination of neurobiological mechanisms, establishment of improved PD models, development and testing of potential therapeutics, and novel avenues of clinical research. The Centers continue to create and foster an environment that enhances the research effectiveness of investigators in an interdisciplinary setting, utilizing specialized methods, models and resources to advance research on PD. As Centers of Excellence, each site serves as a local and national PD research resource, supports career development of early career researchers, and provides pro-active outreach to the local patient/advocacy community.
Current Udall Centers and links to their websites are listed below; further information on each Center is available through the NIH RePORTER.
NINDS Udall Centers of Excellence for Parkinson's Disease Research
Director: Thomas Wichmann, M.D.
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Director: David G. Standaert, M.D., Ph.D.
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI
Director: Roger L. Albin, M.D.
University of Minnesota
Director: Jerrold L. Vitek, M.D., Ph.D.
University of Rochester
Director: E. Ray Dorsey, M.D., M.B.A.