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Nov 30 2012

NYIT Researchers Receive Grant for Parkinson's Research from Fox Foundation

Joanne DiFrancisco-Donoghue

Old Westbury, N.Y.  (November 30, 2012) ─ Researchers at New York Institute of Technology’s College of Osteopathic Medicine and its Adele Smithers Parkinson's Disease Treatment Center are using a grant from The Michael J. Fox Foundation to study the effects of a common vitamin supplement on patients with Parkinson’s disease.

With a $75,000 grant, the NYIT study is examining the effects of tyrosine, a natural amino acid, on the low blood pressure, or hypotension, of 36 patients. The researchers believe that patients who take tyrosine supplements may avoid hypotension, a condition often exacerbated by common Parkinson’s medicines.  The low blood pressure may lead patients to fall or faint when they switch positions or move in a certain way.

“Positive findings – that supplemental tyrosine increases blood pressure and heart rate response, can lead to new therapies to improve the hypotension seen in Parkinson’s patients,” said Joanne DiFrancisco-Donoghue, Ph.D., RCEP (pictured, right), an exercise physiologist at the NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine and principal investigator of the study.

“Receiving a grant from The Michael J. Fox Foundation is a great honor,” she said. “The fact that they saw fit to fund our experiment adds to the credibility of the research we are doing here at the NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine.”

DiFrancisco-Donoghue has focused her research on Parkinson’s disease, vitamin supplementation, and the cardiovascular system. Most recently, she worked on a study that demonstrated that B vitamins and exercise improve markers of health in Parkinson’s disease.

Citing a 2010 study, DiFrancisco-Donoghue said that more than 63% of Parkinson’s disease patients use nutritional supplements but fewer than half of them tell their neurologist what they are taking. Only about 4% are aware that certain supplements can interact with drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease.

“There is a need for quality research focusing on alternative therapies to understand safety and effectiveness,” DiFrancisco-Donoghue said. “Large well-respected scientific organizations are looking at alternative therapies.  If these results are positive, patients can go over the counter and buy supplements that help them with their symptoms – under a doctor’s care of course.”

Other NYIT researchers on the project are William Werner, PT, Ed.D., and Ely Rabin, Ph.D.  Dr Andrew Feigin, associate director of clinical research at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, is acting as a consultant for the medical aspects of the study. 


About NYIT
New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) offers 90 degree programs, including undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees, in more than 50 fields of study, including architecture and design; arts and sciences; education; engineering and computing sciences; health professions; management; and osteopathic medicine. A non-profit independent, private institution of higher education, NYIT has 14,000 students attending campuses on Long Island and Manhattan, online, and at its global campuses. NYIT sponsors 11 NCAA Division II programs and one Division I team.
Led by President Edward Guiliano, NYIT is guided by its mission to provide career-oriented professional education, offer access to opportunity to all qualified students, and support applications-oriented research that benefits the larger world. To date, more than 92,000 graduates have received degrees from NYIT. For more information, visit

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