Maryam Beigi, MD; Mirella Diaz-Santos, PhD; Jeff Bronstein, MD, PhD: Student-run HAND at UCLA hosts Neurodegenerative Disorders Awareness Night

"High-tech and Neurological Disorders at UCLA, a student-run organization, hosted an awareness event Thursday to educate the community on neurodegenerative disorders.

The two-hour Neurodegenerative Disorders Awareness Night – hosted in the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center’s Tamkin Auditorium – featured seven speakers in a series of short presentations and panels, along with various educational and interactive booths. Audience members ranged from undergraduate students to patients with neurological disorders, said Tiffany Chen, president of HAND and a fourth-year human biology and society student.


Jeff Bronstein, MD, PhD

The conference began with a keynote speech by Dr. Jeff Bronstein, HAND’s medical advisor and the director of the Movement Disorders Program at UCLA.
Bronstein’s presentation outlined recent research in the neurological disorders field, especially for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Michele Tagliati, director of movement disorders at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, then discussed his involvement in the field and called upon younger generations to continue ongoing research efforts.

Michael and Nessa Weinman, representing Parkinson’s Community Los Angeles, an organization dedicated to providing information and support for individuals and families dealing with Parkinson’s, joined Bronstein and Tagliati for the first panel of the night, which focused on Parkinson’s disease.


Mirella Diaz-Santos, PhD

Later in the night, HAND held a second panel focused on dementia and geriatric psychiatry, including panelist Dr. Mirella Diaz-Santos, a neuropsychologist at the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Research and Care at UCLA.
Diaz-Santos added that she hoped her work at the event would inspire individuals from varying backgrounds to pursue neuroscience research.

“Seeing the diversity … represented in leadership positions … making decisions that are going to improve the lives and the longevity of our individual communities,” Diaz-Santos said. “That’s what I hope I was able to bring to the table.”


Dr. Maryam Beigi, also representing the Mary S. Easton Center, joined Diaz-Santos for the second panel. Beigi discussed the importance of healthy lifestyle habits in maintaining disease progression. She added that neurological disorders may be asymptomatic and earlier diagnosis of the disease will improve treatment outcomes.

“There are a lot of different ways that you can be proactive,” Beigi said. “Basically, it motivates you to have a healthier lifestyle and postpone the disease and slow progression of the disease.”"

Read more at the Daily Bruin.