The first of July is the start of a new academic year at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. It’s a bittersweet time as we welcome new team members and say goodbye to others.
This year, we are excited to have two new fellows joining up – Heather Heiser, MD and Antonia Pusso, MD. Dr. Heiser went to medical school at Michigan University at the Grand Rapids campus. She completed her Neurology residency at Ruch University in Chicago. Dr. Pusso obtained her medical degree in Charlottesville, VA and completed her residency training in Boston, serving as chief resident in her final year. Both new fellows will complete two years of fellowship training at the University of Colorado Movement Disorders Center.
Dr. Alex Baumgartner and Dr. Mike Korsmo completed their first year of fellowship and are currently starting their second year. We look forward to having them with us for another year.
Dr. Teresa Lee has graduated from the two-year Movement Disorders Fellowship and joined our faculty on July 1, 2021. Welcome to the team, Dr. Lee!
Finally, we are sad to announce that Dr. Lauren Seeberger has stepped away from the University of Colorado Movement Disorders Center. She joins family in another state and will be helping to develop an up-and-coming Neurology and Movement Disorders program. Dr. Seeberger contributed a lot to our program during her tenure here. She will be missed, but we wish her the best of luck on her next adventure.
There were many changes in July, but the Movement Disorders Center looks forward to another incredible academic year.
One of the roles of the faculty and staff in academic medicine is conducting research. In addition to seeing patients and teaching the next generation of neurology and movement disorders providers, faculty conduct research to identify new therapies and – ultimately – find a cure for the disease they treat.
On June 2, the University of Colorado Department of Neurology hosted its 11th Annual Research Retreat. This event allowed subspecialists, fellows, and residents an opportunity to share their ongoing research with their peers. In addition to the presentations, the department also hosted a poster session. In a virtual setting, faculty, staff, and medical learners gave brief overviews of their research projects.
On June 9, the University of Colorado Movement Disorders Center hosted its Annual Research Retreat hosted by Isabelle Buard, PhD. The MDC’s Research Retreat is for researchers only and includes clinician-scientists and bench scientists. Presenters give a brief overview of their project and then immediately answer questions from the audience (other researchers). The goal of this day is to develop and nourish collaborations in movement disorders research across different campuses and institutions in the state of Colorado.
The Research Retreat also gives the Movement Disorders Pilot Grant Recipients an opportunity to share their projects. Each year, the Movement Disorders Center formally asks for early-career researchers across Colorado to submit proposals for pilot grant projects related to movement disorders. These requests are intended to give researchers the funding they need to collect data for larger research projects. Awardees with well-developed projects are funded up to $10,000 and one year to complete their research projects. Many of the awardees have subsequently been awarded larger grants from larger organizations to continue their research.
If you are a researcher interested in learning more about our pilot grant program, our annual research retreat, or more about the research at our Center, please see our For Researchers page or join our mailing list.
June was a wonderful month. The faculty and staff of the Movement Disorders Center were able to join the Parkinson’s community in person.
On June 6, 2021 The Movement Disorders Center participated in the Vitality Walk for the Parkinson’s Association of the Rockies (PAR). Providers, researchers, staff, and their families walked and ran in support of PAR. PAR is a local non-profit organization that provides education, exercise classes, equipment trials, and many more resources. This year PAR is celebrating 40 years of service to the Rocky Mountain Region.
You’ll see more of the Movement Disorders Center at upcoming PAR Educational events. Please see our Events page for a full list of our upcoming speaking engagements.
On June 12, the Parkinson’s Foundation hosted their Revolution Ride. For the first time, this event was held in Denver. Riders were able to join in person or virtually. The University of Colorado Movement Disorders Center was designated a Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence in 2019. Being able to join them for an in-person event finally was very exciting.
We hope to continue making progress towards being in-person for our events soon. It was wonderful to see everyone in person again.
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.
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.
In a recent issue of the journal Movement Disorders, colleagues and I published a study examining the relationship between two of the most common ‘non-motor’ symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD): decreased sense of smell (olfactory dysfunction) and constipation. It has been known for some time that these symptoms often start several years or even decades before the typical ‘motor’ symptoms of PD, which include tremor, stiffness, and slow movement. Going along with this, accumulation of the abnormal protein alpha-synuclein, which is thought to play a critical role in the development of PD, have been found in the nasal passages and GI tracts of PD patients before it is found in the brain. This has led many to hypothesize that PD may actually begin in the nose or in the gut and spread from there to the brain.
We wanted to explore whether we could find evidence that for some people, PD begins in the nasal passages while in other people, it begins in the gut. We hypothesized that if people had PD originating in the nasal passages only, they would have only loss of smell and not constipation. On the other hand, if PD originated in the GI tract only, they would have constipation but not loss of smell. We looked at data from the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), which collects information from patients who have recently been diagnosed with PD.
We found that at the time people are diagnosed with PD, they tend to have problems with smelling and constipation to similar degrees. That is, people with worse sense of smell also tend to have worse constipation, and those with minimal loss of smell tend to have mild constipation. This finding actually went against our hypothesis. There may be a few reasons for this. The first is that the time of diagnosis of PD (based on tremor, slowness, and stiffness) may be too late to detect a difference in smell and constipation. Even if PD begins in either the nose or the gut, symptoms in the other location may have already ‘caught up’ with the first. The second possible explanation is that PD may begin in both locations at about the same time. This is called the dual-hit hypothesis, and has gained popularity in recent years. In the future, we hope to expand our research to help elucidate where and when the earliest signs of Parkinson’s occur.
This piece was written by Janet Raban. We are excited to share her story and look forward to sharing more stories here as well. Below, Ms. Raban shares her experience and some words of inspiration. Thank you, Ms. Raban, for sharing.
In November 2001, I experienced my first symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease (PD), a slight tremor of the ring finger and pinky of my right hand. My primary care physician referred me to a neurologist and the journey began. The neurologist insisted I had MS and put me through a battery of tests that included two brain MRIs, one cervical MRI, and a spinal tap, none of which exhibited any plaquing in the spinal fluid (a sure sign of MS), yet she persisted. So, I asked to be referred to the guru of all MS specialists in Denver, that being Dr. John Corboy at UCHealth. This was my first lesson in advocating for myself, which has become routine since that day. The rationale for self-advocacy is it keeps you in touch with your emotions, your physical health, and your sense of control over the circumstances.
After only five minutes with Dr. Corboy, he reassured me that I did NOT have MS and sent me to see his “colleague across the hall.” Dr. Maureen Leehey, a movement disorders specialist, has not only treated my Parkinsonism since then day I met her but has become a dear friend. At one point, she asked if I was interested in a drug trial for patients who were recently diagnosed and had not started on any PD drugs. That was my first foray into drug trials that have since spanned the course of my disease.
Critical to the management of my disease was my support system, namely my husband, Ed. He has been by my side every step of the way. He has attended a majority of appointments that I had over these last 20 years. We even traveled to Connecticut for one drug trial. He has been my rock, especially when I found myself in the depths of despair or just to listen to my rantings with a cool head and a loving heart.
Have there been moments of despair? Yes, of course, but they have been far outweighed by times of hope in the great advances in my overall health (thanks to the expert administration of appropriate medications at the right time by Dr. Leehey) and to research and surgery. After more than 20 years with PD, I decided to have Deep Brain Surgery (DBS). I was maxing out on my meds and DBS offered me the opportunity to reduce the amount of medication I was taking and a device that also enabled me to have some modicum of control over my disease. I have always told my daughter that the measure of your character is in how you deal with adversity. Meet it head-on!
You must advocate for yourself. You can’t let the disease control your life. You have to at least TRY to control IT. So, as a result, I decided on the surgery. A window of opportunity opened, and I climbed in. Your expectations may be higher than mine. Your fears may be greater than mine. Your lifestyle may be different than mine. But what we do have in common is an insidious disease, a disease that intimidates, instills fear, a disease that saps your energy and hope for a “normal” future. Be courageous, self-advocate, and ask lots of questions, that’s the only way you can get the answers you need to decide how your future will play out. You can control it, you may not overcome it, but you have a choice as to how you handle it. I made a choice to have DBS surgery and I don’t regret it. You have choices too. Be courageous, take the leap of faith, trust your doctors to help you make those decisions. You won’t regret it either.
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!
Our fellows have completed their medical training in Neurology and have elected to deepen their expertise in movement disorders. We’d like to give a warm welcome to our newest first-year fellows, Dr. Alexander Baumgartner and Dr. Michael Korsmo.
Dr. Baumgartner was born and raised in Lakewood, CO. He obtained his medical degree from Brown University in Providence, RI. He completed his residency training at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School in Boston. During his residency, he served as chief resident in his final year. He is excited to being a fellowship in Movement Disorders in July 2020 and to be returning home to Colorado.
Dr. Korsmo completed his medical education at Tulane University School of Medicine and completed residency training at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. While in residency, he created and launched the university’s first Global Health Neurology rotation with the first site n Malawi. He also served as Chief Resident of Education where he restructured their introductory “Boot Camp” and Morning Report sessions. Beyond Movement Disorders, his interests include education, clinical reasoning, and global/rural health.
Dr. Baumgartner and Dr. Korsmo join Dr. Teresa Lee who is completing her second year of fellowship. We look forward to working with our new fellows. Say hello when you see them in clinic.
Join us in celebrating the graduates of our University of Colorado Movement Disorders Fellowship. We wish them the best of luck.
Jeanne Feuerstein, MD
During her two-year fellowship, Jeanne Feuerstein, MD accomplished so much. She received the University of Colorado Movement Disorders Center Pilot Grant and two travel awards to attend international conferences. During the Movement Disorders Society’s 2019 International Congress, Dr. Feuerstein presented a case study which also resulted in a forthcoming publication. Also, she was the first author on two published abstracts and one upcoming publication. She co-led a local PD-SELF group during her first year. In addition, Dr. Feuerstein became a first-time mother. After her fellowship, we are excited that she will be joining the University of Colorado Movement Disorders faculty as an Assistant Professor focusing on a role at the VA.
Lisa Deuel, MD
Lisa Deuel, MD began her fellowship with us in 2018 and she has had a very successful two years at the University of Colorado. Lisa presented two abstracts at international conferences – the 2020 American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting and the 2019 International Movement Disorders Congress. She was awarded the Movement Disorders Center Pilot Grant Award to study “Sex Disparities in deep brain stimulation for patients with essential tremor.” She published two case reports in peer-reviewed journals. In addition, she was a co-moderator of a PD-SELF group in Denver. Dr. Deuel will be starting as an Assistant Professor at the University of Vermont Medical Center where she will work as a Movement Disorders specialist and serve as the fellowship director.
Caroline Goldin, MD
Caroline Goldin, MD joined our team as a fellow in the summer of 2019. During the past year, Dr. Goldin co-wrote a chapter on the treatment of Parkinson disease for a physical medicine & rehabilitation textbook. She began to build a best practice review for the University of Colorado Hospital’s electronic medical practice. This review will work to stop Parkinson disease patients from getting the wrong medications when they are hospitalized. She led a team of many specialists in writing a paper about the use of neuropalliative care for deep brain stimulation patients. Dr. Goldin will start a neuro-oncology fellowship at the University of Colorado in July 2020 to add to her movement disorders training.
Teresea Lee, MD
During her first year, Teresa Lee, MD received the Movement Disorders Center Pilot Grant Award for her research with DBS and smartphone applications. She presented an online poster on wellness in Neurology residents at the 2020 American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting. She spoke at the University of Colorado Movement Disorders Center’s Annual Parkinson Disease Symposium. She also presented a webinar for the Parkinson Association of the Rockies on COVID-19 and Parkinson Disease. Dr. Lee is also enrolled in the Master of Public Health program with a focus in global health and epidemiology. Dr. Lee is staying with us to complete another year of fellowship.
We wish them the best and looking forward to seeing what they accomplish.