Landmark Parkinson’s research at Morehouse School of Medicine looks to recruit Black patients

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Morehouse School of Medicine is participating in the global study, which aims to increase researchers’ understanding of the genetic architecture of Parkinson’s disease. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Morehouse School of Medicine is recruiting Georgians diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease to participate in an international genetics study into the condition.  

The PD GENEration: Mapping the Future of Parkinson’s Disease study launched in 2019.

So far, more than 15,000 patients have participated at 100 research locations in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. 

Researchers said they hope the Parkinson’s Foundation study can help increase the participation of historically underrepresented groups in critical Parkinson’s research efforts.

“Genetic research offers one of the most promising pathways toward new therapies for PD [Parkinson’s disease],” said lead principal investigator Dr. Roy Alcalay with Israel’s Tel Aviv Medical Center, and the Department of Neurology at Columbia University, in a statement. “It is critical that our research includes data from a diverse body of participants because no two people with PD are identical. Data is power, and by providing genetic data to study participants, PD GENEration empowers the community to be involved in additional research toward a cure.”

Research disparities are longstanding, and Black patients are much less likely than white patients to be evaluated for neurological conditions, according to a recent report in the journal Neurology.

“Previously, when we’re talking about the history, most people who have done research in Parkinson’s disease have been Caucasian,” said Morehouse School of Medicine Associate Professor of Neurology Dr. Chantale Branson.

She said including more Black patients in Parkinson’s research can accelerate scientists’ understanding of the disease. 

“Helping them to understand how the disease affects this population, and which treatments are most effective within our community,” she said. 

Participants can undergo the genetic Parkinson’s testing in person at Morehouse School of Medicine, or remotely using at-home testing kits and telemedicine visits.   

Researchers also provide study participants with their personal genetic test results, along with counseling to help identify any additional clinical trials they may qualify to join.  

For information on how to enroll in the study, visit the website or email