World Parkinson Coalition Welcomes Five New Directors

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WPC welcomes five internationally recognized researchers, clinicians, and an advocate as new directors to its Board.

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Their many years of experience in the field will help provide fresh insights to our organization as we continue to make great progress in our mission.

The World Parkinson Coalition® (WPC) announced the appointment of five new members to its board of directors. Drawing on their many years of experience in the Parkinson’s field as movement disorder specialists, researchers, and advocates. Dr. Raj Pahwa from University of Kansas Medical Center, Dr. Ryosuke Takahashi from Kyoto University, Dr. Malu G. Tansey from University of Florida College of Medicine, Dr. Alice Nieuwboer from University of Leuven, and Dr. Linda Olson, Professor Emerita from University of California at San Diego, joined the WPC Board as of January 2020.

The WPC hosts the most unique international conference in the Parkinson’s space. Every three years the WPC brings together basic scientists, neurologists, general physicians, nurses, rehab specialists, clinicians, as well as people with Parkinson’s (PwP) and their caregivers. The WPC’s mission is to get experts out of their silos to connect with others to better understand how to advance the clinical and basic science of Parkinson’s to not only expedite the discovery of new treatments, but also to better understand the purpose and impact of new treatments and when and how to use them.

“Board members play a major role in steering the work of the WPC, so we are thrilled to announce our five newest directors,” said Elizabeth Pollard, WPC Executive Director.

Dr. Rajesh Pahwa has worked for nearly 30 years in the movement disorder field, where he has published more than 250 peer-reviewed articles and led more than 75 clinical studies on Parkinson’s and other movement disorders. He is the director of The University of Kansas Health System’s Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Center, a Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence and, in 2005 he was selected as the inaugural Laverne and Joyce Rider Professor of Neurology at KU School of Medicine in Kansas City, Kansas. He first started working with the WPC as a speaker at the WPC 2013 followed immediately by becoming a dedicated committee member. Since that time, he has played an integral role in the success of the last two Congresses.    

Dr. Ryosuke Takahashi was appointed in 2005 as Professor and Chair of Neurology at Kyoto University Hospital and Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine. Over his nearly 40 years working in the space, he has published more than 300 peer-reviewed articles and held many positions of leadership including as President of the Japanese Society of Neurology and Vice President of the Japanese Society for Neuroscience. His major research interests are the molecular pathogenetic mechanisms underlying Parkinson’s disease and related disorders and development of disease-modifying therapies against neurodegenerative disorders. He’s one of the lead researchers on the promising clinical trial launched in 2018 for iPS cell-based therapy for Parkinson's disease.. He first started working with the WPC as a speaker in 2006 and co-chaired the Local Organizing Committee for the 5th World Parkinson Congress in Kyoto, Japan in 2019.

Dr. Malú Gámez Tansey from the University of Florida College of Medicine studies the role and regulation of neuroinflammatory and immune system responses in modulating the gene-environment interactions that determine risk for development and progression of neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disease. She joined the Board after serving as a Program Committee member and speaker at past Congresses.

“The WPC is such a special experience for the Parkinson’s community and in particular junior researchers. I have encouraged the junior scientists in my lab to attend the WPC every chance they get, the impact for scientists to meet and hear directly from people living with PD is profound and I am honored to be a member of an organization that has really moved the needle on patient engagement and connecting community members,” said Tansey.

Dr. Alice Nieuwboer is head of the Neuromotor Rehabilitation Research Group at the University of Leuven. She and her team are investigating the mechanisms of gait and balance disturbances in Parkinson's disease (PD) as well as upper limb motor problems. Her group established the extraordinary link between freezing of gait and freezing in different effectors, a mechanism that they continue to study in their ongoing longitudinal work. Alice’s team aims to answer the question of whether learning can still occur in neurodegenerative disease and if so, how it will imprint in the brain at the neurological systems level.

Dr. Linda Olson joined the Board after having attended the last two World Parkinson Congresses as a delegate who came to learn about living with Parkinson’s herself. Dr. Olson, a trained radiologist who worked at University of California San Diego for more than 30 years in the role of professor gave a moving and inspirational key note talk at the 5th World Parkinson Congress about living well with Parkinson’s disease. Her personal understanding of living with Parkinson’s and her extensive medical training make her an incredible candidate for the Board.

“Parkinson’s disease is deeply personal for me,” said Olson. “As a new board member who sees the complexities of PD firsthand and sees the power of bringing the community together under one roof, I am committed to doing all that I can to make life better for people with Parkinson’s.”

“We are thrilled with our newest Board members,” said WPC President, Dr. Marie-Françoise Chesselet, UCLA Professor Emerita. “Their many years of experience in the field will help provide fresh insights to our organization as we continue to make great progress in our mission.”

A complete list of the WPC Board of Directors is available at

About the World Parkinson Coalition® and WPC 2022
The World Parkinson Coalition Inc. provides an international forum for learning about the latest scientific discoveries, medical practices, caregiver initiatives and advocacy work related to Parkinson's disease. The triennial World Parkinson Congresses provide a space for the global Parkinson’s community of researchers, clinicians, health care professionals, people with Parkinson’s and their care partners to meet in person, network, and discuss advances in Parkinson’s research, improve understanding and promote advocacy worldwide, while influencing future research and care options. The WPC 2022 will attract more than 4,500 delegates. Learn more at:

About Parkinson’s Disease
Affecting nearly one million Americans and 10 million people worldwide, Parkinson’s disease is the second-most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s. There is no cure for Parkinson’s and 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the United States alone.

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Kathleen Jordan
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