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Oct 25 2013

Parkinson's Disease Patients Learn About NYIT Research

New York, N.Y.  (October 25, 2013)  — Researchers from NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Adele Smither’s Parkinson’s Disease Treatment Center connected with hundreds of patients and caregivers last week at an event designed to promote participation in Parkinson’s research.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research Clinical Trials Fair provided NYIT researchers with a chance to meet prospective patients willing to volunteer in ongoing studies. Of nine higher educational institutions present, NYIT had the highest number of current studies in observational and interventional research, said Joanne Donoghue, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist in the physical therapy department at the Adele Smithers Center.

“There was an overwhelming interest about our program and our research,” Donoghue said, with more than 70 patients from the tri-state region who expressed willingness to participate in clinical trials.

“Having the principal investigators present to answer questions and explain their research allowed patients to connect a face and facility to a project,” she added. “It is much more personal and reassuring to them. We were there to show that we not only study Parkinson’s disease but we are experienced in treatment. That day was unique because there were so many different projects being represented by so many departments all in one place.”

The Adele Smither’s Center, established in 1998, includes a “bio-psycho-social” approach, that includes osteopathic manual medicine, exercise design, speech therapy, and mind-body activities, such as Tai-Chi. Support groups coordinated by the American Parkinson Disease Association also meet at the Adele Smither’s Center and at the College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Family Health Care Center in Central Islip. In addition, the Adele Smither's Center offers a consumer health learning center with medical librarians to help caregivers and patients find reliable health information on the disease. 

“We want to bring research, technology and medicine together to improve the quality of life for our patients with Parkinson's disease, all the while serving as a direct resource for the entire family and caregivers,” said Dean Wolfgang Gilliar, D.O.

Currently, eight faculty members are conducting eight different research projects at the center. 

“Since Parkinson's disease is the most common neuro-degenerative movement disorder in the United States, the medical approach to each patient must be personalized, multi-faceted, and mindful of physical and psychological issues,” Gilliar said. “Until there is a cure for this devastating disease, studies on how to minimize or compensate for loss of function are crucial.”

NYIT’s Parkinson’s disease research includes:

  • The effects of the natural amino acid tyrosine on blood pressure changes associated with Parkinson’s disease (Dr. Donoghue, funded by the Michael J. Fox Foundation)
  • The effect of Parkinson’s disease on arm movements and reflexes (Dr. Isaac Kurtzer, funded by the National Institutes of Health)
  • Investigation of the possible association between Parkinson’s disease and acne (Dr. Bhuma Krishnamachari and Dr. Joerg Leheste) 
  • The role of baseline depression and education in patients’ use of various therapies to enhance their quality of life (Dr. Bhuma Krishnamachari and Dr. Kathleen Pergament)
  • The relationship between eye movements of people with Parkinson’s disease and handwriting affected by the disease (Dr. Ely Rabin)
  • The use of a motorized walker to reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s disease while walking (Dr. Ely Rabin)
  • Defining the genetic variations that contribute to the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease (Dr. David Tegay)
  • The effect of osteopathic manual medicine on speech and breathing in Parkinson’s disease (Dr. Sheldon Yao)

For more information about NYIT’s research on Parkinson’s disease, contact Sim Basta at 516-686-3719

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 13,000 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, 95,000 graduates have received degrees from NYIT. For more information, visit New York Institute of Technology at


Elaine Iandoli

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