'Competitive greatness' drives 5 years of Parkinson's research breakthroughs at UCLA

A $25 million gift from Steven and Laurie Gordon has spurred new collaborations and innovations.

"World Parkinson’s Day 2023, Tuesday, April 11, marks the five-year anniversary of Laurie and Steven C. Gordon’s $25 million gift to UCLA, which established their Commitment to Cure Parkinson’s Disease at the David Geffen School of Medicine.

The gift, from the Steven Gordon Family Foundation, has funded diverse research projects that have contributed to the understanding of the neurodegenerative disease that some experts estimate affects 1 million Americans. It has also established a new faculty chair and brought a PET scanner, used for diagnosing and studying Parkinson’s, to the health system.

The goal? It’s what Steven Gordon calls “revenge research.”

“We don’t know any better way to get even with Parkinson’s than to do the research to get rid of it,” he says. “And UCLA is the place where that miracle could happen.”

There is currently no cure for Parkinson's disease. Though medications are available to help curb symptoms, such as tremors, rigidity, and slow movements, they’re ultimately an imperfect fix.

“They’re pretty good at alleviating symptoms for a number of years, but then they stop, and the disease progresses,” says S. Thomas Carmichael, MD, PhD, chair of UCLA’s Department of Neurology.

Other non-pharmaceutical methods, such as deep brain stimulation, may alleviate some symptoms, but not all. Dr. Carmichael says there likely won’t be one “magic bullet” for curing the disease.

“It’s going to be multifaceted,” he said. “You’re probably going to have to treat the abnormally accumulating proteins, but also the inflammation and the mitochondria.”

That’s why he’s pleased that 25 UCLA researchers from across the School of Medicine are currently a part of the Commitment to Cure Parkinson’s Disease."

Read more at UCLA Health.