New Interdisciplinary Clinic Opening in Boulder + More Good News

We have a lot to celebrate this month!

Our interdisciplinary Boulder team completed the Parkinson’s Foundation Team Training. This course was designed by the Parkinson’s Foundation to increase knowledge of Parkinson’s disease. The course is also designed to encourage collaborative care. This was an intensive course that ran throughout the Spring. We look forward to enrolling more of our interdisciplinary team in the future.

Our Boulder team will begin hosting an Annual Parkinson’s Disease Interdisciplinary Clinic. This clinic is designed specifically for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. During this annual visit, patients receive a standardized set of evaluations by their movement disorders specialist, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy. The goal is for people with Parkinson’s disease to go through this clinic yearly. This will assist in tracking the progression of Parkinson’s disease more accurately and integrate the perspectives of the interdisciplinary team when offering our recommendations for activity-based and pharmacological treatments. Our hope is that this input will help patients maintain their optimal function and quality of life. This clinic is also offered at our Anschutz Medical Campus.

Congratulations to Michelle Fullard, MD and Isabelle Buard, PhD for receiving the University of Colorado Department of Neurology’s Intradepartmental Grant. This award has been offered since early 2016 to assistant and associate professors. This grant is designed to give the junior faculty a jumpstart on new research years and allows for protected time to prepare a grant application, write a peer-reviewed journal article, develop collaborations and/or perform any other research task that may otherwise be challenging because of time.

Dr. Buard’s research is “Investigating cortical sleep patterns disruption after traumatic brain injury under the mentorship of Dr. Benzi Kluger and Dr. Jeff Hebert. Dr. Fullard will conduct Examining gender differences in therapy preferences and risk tolerance in Parkinson disease” under the mentorship of Dr. Maureen Leehey. Dr. Fullard recently completed an interview with Davis Phinney Foundation about “Removing Barriers to Deep Brain Stimulation for Women with Parkinson’s.” You can watch the full interview on YouTube on Davis Phinney Foundation’s channel.

Dr. Forbes Accepted to Clinical Faculty Scholars Program

Congratulations to Dr. Emily Forbes on her acceptance into the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute’s (CCTSI) Clinical Faculty Scholars Program (CFSP). This program enrolls up to five junior faculty members each year. The program helps young researchers obtain grant funding for their career growth or their first independent investigator-initiated project. Often these are K-awards or R-awards which are funded by the NIH. These can also be awards from large non-profit organizations. The CCTSI trains these budding researchers through guided project development, educational seminars, grant writing classes, and mentorship participation.

Dr. Forbes’s project will build a Neurogenetics database. The first goal will be to characterize genetic causes of Parkinson’s disease in the University of Colorado’s patient population. She will follow this group over time to see how they respond to treatment based on their genetic variant. She will build this database to include phenotypic (observable characteristics) and genotypic (genetic characteristics) information across different specialties in Neurology. This will lead to a department resource for genetics research. Her long-term aim is to develop a tool to advance fair and the best genetic testing for patients. This will also help to provide thorough genetic counseling. This tool will make clinical trials for disease-modifying treatments available to more patients and quicken the rate of developing new therapies. Additionally, it will widen the availability of clinical trials to patient populations.

Other Movement faculty alumni of the CFSP program include Dr. Michelle Fullard and Dr. Samantha Holden and former movement disorders faculty, Dr. Brian Berman, and Dr. Benzi Kluger.

Being part of a medical school means that in addition to seeing patients, our faculty are also involved in additional pursuits. One of these pursuits is conducting clinical research related to their field. Most research falls into two categories: clinical trials and investigator-initiated research. Clinical trials are a type of clinical research that aims to determine the safety and effectiveness of the medication, devices, and treatment regimens. Investigator-initiated research starts with new ideas that the researcher comes up with themself. The researcher then is responsible for creating a trial to test their idea and then carrying out the trial. All research must adhere to strict rules and regulations. You can read more about the research here.

Board Certification

Congratulations to our two first-year fellows, Alex Baumgartner, MD and Michael Korsmo, MD, for passing their neurology board examinations through the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology!

When we select fellows for our training program, they must be eligible to take these board examinations. This means they must meet all of the minimum requirements to take the exam by the start of their fellowship training. Fellows typically take the test towards the end of their first semester which is the earliest the test is offered.

Board certifications are important because they promote and assess the competence of physicians when beginning and throughout their careers. Board-certified physicians must provide proof that they are continuing their education through Continuing Medical Education credits and are recertified at set intervals throughout their career.

While board certifications are not required to practice medicine, they are an extra step many physicians choose to take. The certifications demonstrate the physicians are keeping up with the most recent advancements in their specialties and their desire to provide high-quality care to their patients. Board certifications are specific to each specialty and therefore maintain more specific standards to maintain certifcation.

All of the movement disorders specialists at the University of Colorado Movement Disorders Center are board-certified in neurology.

Say congratulations to our fellows if you see them in clinic!

MDC Designated a Parkinson Disease Center of Excellence

The faculty and staff at the University of Colorado Movement Disorders Center (MDC) are excited to announce we have earned the designation of Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence. Dr. Lauren Seeberger and Dr. Maureen Leehey will serve as co-directors.

The MD is now one of 34 center in the United States and one of 48 sites internationally. 

MDC showcased its commitment to the criteria of a Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence throughout the application process. These criteria include practicing at the highest level of evidence-based patient care, conducting relecant research that serves patient priorities, leadership in professional training, and educating patients and the community through outreach programs. 

The team at MDC is made up of Movement Disorders-trained neurologists, neuro-palliative neurologists, neuro-behavioral neurologists, neuro-ophthalmologists, neurosurgeons, rehabilitative medicine specialists, speech language therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, neuro-psychiatrists, and many others, including the invaluable Parkinson disease organizations throughout our community. This team has a deep understanding of all aspects of Parkinson disease and its therapies. 

“We learned so much about our own program going through the rigorous process to receive designation as a Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence,” said Dr. Seeberger.

 

Receiving this designation is an incredible honor and we look forward to deepening our relationships with those in our PD community. In doing so, we also look forward to elevating standards of care for people with PD and those who care for them. 

“The team at the University of Colorado is thrilled to be part of a larger network of high-performing sites that allow us to share what we do well and create opportunities to raise the bar by incorporating successful programs from other sites,” said Dr. Leehey.

Our Center is Here to Help

In 2018, the Movement Disorders Center served 3,281 people with Parkinsonism, conducted 39 PD studies involving nearly 300 patients, and delivered 78 talks to professionals and the community. 

The MDC offers a Newly Diagnosed Educational Visit shortly after diagnosis. During this visit, patients are given one-on-one education on the diagnosis and treatment options for Parkinson disease. This time is dedicated to answering all questions and providing extra support and encouragement. 

The full press release can be read on the Parkinson’s Foundation website.