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>>USF Named National Parkinson's Foundation Center of Excellence

One of two centers in Florida

Tampa, FL (Aug. 5, 2005) - The National Parkinson's Foundation has designated the University of South Florida Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Center as an NPF Center of Excellence -- making it one of 39 such centers worldwide.

USF and the University of Florida's McNight Brain Institute are the only two NPF Centers of Excellence in Florida.

"We're very pleased to receive this prestigious international recognition of our program's record of excellence" said Robert Hauser, MD, MBA, USF professor of neurology and director of the Center. "The designation constitutes the Foundation's public seal of approval – defining the gold standard in Parkinson's disease research, care and outreach."

Centers of Excellence are expected to be leaders in providing innovative models of service, conducting research to enhance the knowledge and treatment of Parkinson's disease, and supporting community health promotion efforts. The designation allows USF to apply for NPF grants.

Established in 1986, the USF Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Center treats patients with Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders including tremor, dystonia, Huntington's disease and restless legs syndrome. One of the top sites in the country for testing new medications for Parkinson's disease, the Center is also working to refine new surgeries and develop innovative cell-based therapies that may offer hope for patients who no longer benefit from drug therapy.

Recent research has included evaluation of antiepileptic medications for the treatment of Parkinson's and dyskinesia, the involuntary movements associated with the disease; participation in a clinical trial resulting in the first FDA approved medication for patients with moderate-to-severe restless legs syndrome; and testing the first non-dopamine medication in development for Parkinson's disease. Researchers are also studying implantation of human retinal epithelial cells to treat advanced Parkinson's.

The Parkinson's Disease Program includes a staff of 19, including neurologists, neurosurgeons, nurses, clinical research administrators, a neuropsychologist, and physical, occupational and speech therapists.

Earlier this year the Center hired a coordinator and social worker to expand education and support services to underserved patients and their families in West Central Florida. Eden Feldman, MSW, helped establish a new "summer school lecture series," which brings information about treatments, disease management, diet and exercise to patients and caregivers.

The Center is developing a caregiver training program and a mentor program to match newly diagnosed patients with those who have had Parkinson's several years. It works closely with the Florida Coalition to Cure Parkinson's Disease, a grassroots organization of people with Parkinson's disease, family members and friends committed to raising money for research.
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Responding to demand from Tampa's community leaders, the University of South Florida College of Medicine was established by the Florida Legislature in 1965. Part of the USF Health Sciences Center , doctors and researchers were awarded $116.6 million in grants and contracts last year. Providing advanced medical care, USF Physicians Group at the College of Medicine is the largest doctor group in West Central Florida offering expert medical care throughout Tampa Bay's finest hospitals such as Tampa General Hospital, James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital, Moffitt Cancer Center and All Children's Hospital. With a reputation for training high performing clinical physicians, the College is proud that more than half of its physician-graduates remain in Florida to practice medicine.