Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Molecular Integration in Neurological Diagnosis Initiative

Parkinson's Disease MIND Initiative Cohort


The Parkinson's Disease MIND initiative cohort will be based at the Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Center at Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital. It is fitting that a hospital founded (in 1751) on principles of inclusiveness will be the setting for our first all-comers project.
Our first project: To create an all-comers Parkinson's Disease MIND Initiative cohort, which will be the largest cohort of its kind in the world.

Parkinson's Disease (PD) was first described in 1817 by James Parkinson, and the major neuropathological feature of PD, the Lewy Body, was described ~100 years ago. We are still using these definitions.

At the same time, we are realizing that people with PD differ substantially from each other. Some may have very few symptoms even after years, or decades, of PD. Others develop problems with their movement or thinking more quickly. Why are individual patients so different? How can we try to "push" people into the group with fewer symptoms?

We believe that some of the answer lies in understanding the individual differences between patients through looking at their DNA and biomarkers. We also believe that we cannot focus on just 5-10% of the patients, as traditional research cohorts have done -- we should be trying to understand everyone with this disease.

To do this, we will ask every PD patient in our clinic whether they want to be studied this way. If a patient does, we will consent them for our studies. We will draw a tube of blood or mail you a saliva collection kit. From this sample, we will isolate DNA. If we collect blood, we can also measure biomarkers. Research coordinators will be reaching out to potential participants by telephone. Due to the importance of social-distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are conducting these visits using an audiovisual teleconference platform. 

This can help us better match patients to therapies that are best for them, as well as to experimental treatments for which they may be eligible.

Here is a video that explains one project to match individual patients to the right medicines using information from their DNA (pharmacogenetics), where we partnered with the Penn Center for Precision Medicine.

The MIND Initiative is enrolling patients for its Parkinson’s Disease project now.
If you would like to learn more, please contact us via Email or Phone