The MIND Initiative
The Molecular Integration in Neurological Diagnosis (MIND) Initiative is a new cross-departmental initiative at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
OUR MISSION: To usher in a “molecular era” in which patients with neurological diseases will be characterized at the DNA and biomarker levels, in order to improve clinical care and accelerate therapeutic development.
Common neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and others are using “working definitions” that are decades (or even centuries) old. For example, Parkinson’s Disease was clinically defined more than 200 years ago, and the brain lesions we still use to characterize this disease were first described 100 years ago. At the same time, the rapid pace of technology development allows us to look at individuals at a “molecular” level – to understand what specific changes in DNA a patient might have, to define biological markers (or “biomarkers”) from patient saliva, blood, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), or other materials. Moreover, this DNA and biomarker information may allow us to tailor existing therapies at the individual level, allowing for “precision medicine,” and to identify which particular patients would be most likely to respond to experimental therapies.
Right now, there is a disconnect between the way neurological diagnoses are still made and the promise of these new molecular tools. The Molecular Integration in Neurological Diagnosis (MIND) Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania will close this gap.
Our guiding principles:
- Molecular tools to characterize DNA and biomarkers (often called genomics – for DNA – or proteomics – for protein biomarkers) from neurological disease patients can vastly improve diagnosis and clinical care.
- Molecular characterization of neurological diseases will expand our understanding of the disease process and lead to the development of novel therapies.
- Molecular tools can offer guidance at the individual patient level. Right now, patients are grouped by disease, but the same disease may look different in different people.
- All patients should be offered the chance to be molecularly characterized.
- Knowledge is valuable, and this knowledge should belong to both the researchers and patients who want to learn more about themselves.
Enrollment Concluded for Get Virtual PD
June 26, 2023
We have now concluded enrollment in the Get Virtual PD virtual genetic counseling research study. We have enrolled and disclosed genetic information to over 320 people with PD at UPenn. The information we learn from this study will help us make genetic counseling and GBA and LRRK2 gene variant testing available to everyone with PD at UPenn.
MIND is enrolling again!
June 20, 2023
We have kicked off new enrollment in MIND! Moving forward, we will focus on new patients to the UPenn PD Center with a diagnosis of PD. We will continue to enroll established patients by request or referral. If you are interested in joining MIND, please contact Dylan at Dylan.Baum@pennmedicine.upenn.edu.
SAVE THE DATE! April 20th
On April 20th, 2023 the MIND team will partner with the Annual Jane Wright Symposium to offer patients, family members, community members, and guests an update on the latest research results from MIND and the impact of the MIND Initiative on clinical and research studies. Please see the flyer (on our News Tab) for more information. RSVP to Dylan.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our team has worked hard over the last 4 years to reach this amazing milestone! Congrats to 1,500!