WHO WE ARE
The mission of The Parkinson’s Institute (The PI) is to provide comprehensive patient care, while discovering new treatment options to improve the quality of life for all Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients. As America’s only independent non-profit organization combining research and patient care for PD under one roof, we are committed to changing the landscape of movement disorder treatment and research. Since its founding, The PI has helped thousands of PD patients better manage their disease, developed new treatments for PD, and published groundbreaking research aimed to close the gap between science and practical care. By focusing on all three avenues of PD - cause, care and cure - The PI is a powerful force in PD research.
In 1982, J. William Langston, MD, responded to an outbreak of suddenly “frozen” young patients admitted to San Francisco Bay Area emergency rooms. Dr. Langston observed that the patients were exhibiting severe Parkinson’s-like symptoms. Further investigation determined that all the patients had used the same bad batch of synthetic heroin. Working with local law enforcement, Dr. Langston tracked down the heroin’s source, analyzed its chemical makeup, and identified the neurotoxin called “MPTP.” In a controlled laboratory environment, MPTP was used to induce Parkinson’s-like conditions in animals, and immediately became the best model for PD research. This breakthrough has accelerated research on mechanisms of nerve cell degeneration in PD, ways to prevent it, and the search for other factors that trigger the disease. Dr. Langston chronicled his discoveries in the widely read book The Case of the Frozen Addicts. The PI was founded in 1988, because of the research opportunities afforded by the discovery of MPTP.
The PI is now America’s only independent non-profit organization that provides basic and clinical research, clinical trials and patient care for Parkinson’s disease and related neurological movement disorders, all under one roof. Our mission is to find the causes of PD, provide first class patient care and discover a cure. Our unique freestanding organization is designed to more directly connect research to patient care – from the "bench to bedside."
The cause, treatments and prevention of PD are more effectively pursued through the coordinated efforts of investigators with different scientific backgrounds and expertise (e.g. molecular biology, pharmacology and toxicology), and the use of state-of-the-art experimental tools at the molecular, cellular and whole organism levels. The close interaction between our scientists and clinicians provides a direct mechanism for translational laboratory-to-patient research.
Examples of research endeavors include mechanisms of selective dopaminergic cell injury, the role of alpha-synuclein in disease pathogenesis, mechanisms of dyskinesias and new neuroprotective strategies (e.g. agents that counteract alpha-synuclein fibrillation, treatment with nicotine or nicotinic receptor agonists, and stimulation of stem cells). Please visit our basic research page to learn more about our newest scientific discoveries, including lab-induced dopaminergic cells and the mechanisms of the LRRK2 genetic mutation.
The Clinical Research department conducts epidemiologic studies of movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. These studies help establish how many people have a disease, where they live, and how many new cases develop per year. Ultimately, this work is the cornerstone of understanding the causes of a disease and how to prevent or treat it. Please visit our clinical research page to better understand the newest discoveries regarding environmental causes of PD.
Movement Disorders Clinic
The mission of the Clinic is to provide world-class, comprehensive services for patients, including expert neurological evaluation and treatment; physical, occupational, and speech therapy; patient education; and seminars for patients and caregivers. The Clinic has approximately 3,500 patient visits per year. Patient care quality is assured by our mission to combine research and care in an intimate, integrated environment, to give generous amounts of time to each patient’s needs, and to provide physical therapy, speech therapy, and music therapy as part of our full service program. We offer weekly exercise and therapy classes, as well as bimonthly seminars geared towards improving patient knowledge. The Clinic also conducts major clinical trials designed to find new or improved patient therapies. Please click here to become a patient. If you are interested in joining a clinical trial, please visit our clinical trials page.
If you would like a copy of our most recent 990, please contact us.