Jewish Parkinson's Study Looking for Participants

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If you’re of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, you may be able to participate in an important genetics study sponsored by The Michael J. Fox Foundation. The study, called PPMI, is looking for people with Parkinson’s disease who are of Ashkenazi Jewish decent, as well as those without the disease who have Ashkenazi Jewish family members with PD. Learn more:


Is Parkinson’s Disease Hereditary?
As a member of the Jewish community in Chicago, I’m always interested to learn as well as to share ideas and opportunities that affect us and our families. For example, did you know that about 10% of all cases of Parkinson’s disease (PD) are genetic and that the LRRK2 gene in particular is the most common known genetic contributor to Parkinson’s disease known to date? Did you also know that a LRRK2 gene mutation is found among 15-20% of Parkinson’s disease patients of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry?


While this news may surprise you, there are several important facts you should know. While having a mutation in the LRRK2 gene can increase your chance of developing Parkinson’s disease, many people with the mutation will not go on to develop the disease. The LRRK2 gene is the subject of intense investigation by Parkinson’s disease researchers around the world because of its potential to lead to medical breakthroughs for all people with PD, not just those with a genetic form. Further, there are opportunities for people in the Jewish community to get involved in research that could make a difference for millions of patients worldwide.


In fact, over the past decade, studies of the genetics of Parkinson’s disease have revolutionized the pursuit of a “disease-modifying treatments” – medications and interventions that can potentially slow or stop the progression of PD. To date, no disease-modifying treatment has been discovered. This kind of treatment is the single greatest need of Parkinson’s disease patients today. For this reason, families of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage that carry a LRRK2 mutation have a vital role in research.


One study in particular, the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (or, PPMI for short) is seeking to understand why the LRRK2 gene can sometimes lead to Parkinson’s disease. PPMI is the landmark study of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and is taking place at 32 clinical sites worldwide. The goal of PPMI is to identify indicators of PD progression that will ultimately enable early and accurate detection and potentially help identify new and better treatments for future generations of people with Parkinson’s disease.
Today, PPMI needs volunteers to participate in the study.


We are seeking individuals who meet either of the following criteria:
1) People with PD who are of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry
2) People without PD who are related to someone with PD AND who are of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry


Because PPMI is an observational study, participants do not take any experimental drug or placebo. Individuals who meet either of the above criteria may be eligible to receive genetic counseling and testing at no cost, and may qualify to participate in PPMI. Find out how you can get involved by visiting or calling (888) 830-6299.


Studying the genetics of Parkinson’s disease could revolutionize the development of new treatments for patients worldwide. Families who carry the LRRK2 gene play a unique role in pursuit of a cure. I hope you’ll take this unique opportunity to join forces with Jewish families worldwide who are committed to speeding scientific progress that can touch countless lives. 


- Diane Breslow
[email protected]