To mark International Women’s Day, Cure Parkinson’s, in partnership with The Michael J. Fox Foundation, hosted a webinar discussing research focusing on the need for a sex and gender-inclusive approach in Parkinson’s research from bench to bedside.

Since the publication of the paper “Unmet Needs of Women Living with Parkinson’s Disease: Gaps and Controversies” in Jan 2022, there has been increased recognition of the need for more sex and gender-based research in Parkinson’s. Despite women reporting that changes in hormonal stages affect their Parkinson’s symptoms and evidence that oestrogen may have neuroprotective features, there is still a lack of focus on sex and gender-based Parkinson’s research. The panel discuss Parkinson’s research from lab to bedside and from prevention to treatment, and a possible cure through a gender lens.

Our Panellists

Moderator: Dr Soania Mathur, MD is a physician and Parkinson’s advocate and educator based in Ontario, Canada. She is the co-founder of PD Avengers – a patient-led advocacy group dedicated to ending Parkinson’s – as well as author of her blog, UnshakeableMD. Dr Mathur is an advocate for addressing current knowledge gaps on the experiences of women with Parkinson’s, including collaborating with MJFF’s Fox Insight study to help better understand how Parkinson’s plays a role in different stages of a woman’s life.

Richelle Flanagan is a World Parkinson’s Congress Ambassador, co-founder of the Women’s Parkinson’s Project and My Moves Matter, a self-management digital app for PwP, and registered dietitian based in Ireland. As someone who has lived with PD for the past 7 years, Richelle is passionate about advocating and raising awareness for the unmet needs of women with Parkinson’s.

Dr Carlie Tanner, MD, PhD is a professor of Neurology at the Weill Institute for Neurosciences, University of California, San Francisco. She is the co-principal investigator of the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) study and the principal investigator of the Fox Insight study. Dr Tanner is also a member of our International Linked Clinical Trials (iLCT) committee.

Professor Elena Moro, MD, PhD is a Professor of Neurology at the Faculty of Medicine of the Grenoble Alpes University in Grenoble, France. Prof Moro also serves as President-Elect of the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) and co-chair of the EAN Task Force on Gender and Diversity Issues in Neurology.

Dr Annelien Oosterbaan, MD, PhD is a Parkinson’s Advocate and gynaecologist based in Rotterdam, Netherlands. As a senior researcher on the Women and Parkinson’s Project, her work aims to improve our understanding of how women’s health, especially those concerning hormonal phases and pregnancy, may impact Parkinson’s symptoms.

Additional Resources

Fox Insight is an online clinical study by The Michael J. Fox Foundation that asks people with Parkinson’s to share their experiences via online surveys to help inform and shape future research. One of their areas of interest is in understanding the experiences of women with Parkinson’s.

My Moves Matter is an app co-founded by Richelle to help people with Parkinson’s track and manage medications, symptoms, and more. Currently, University College Cork is recruiting women with Parkinson’s to participate in a pilot study involving this app to gather information on how menstrual cycles affect Parkinson’s symptoms. If you are interested in participating, or simply want to use the app, please visit My Moves Matter to learn more.

The Women’s Parkinson’s Project is an initiative founded by three women with Parkinson’s – Richelle Flanagan, Kat Hill, and Sree Sripathy – to raise awareness and advocate for better treatment and research for women with Parkinson’s.

Several of our panellists helped co-author the 2022 paper, ‘Unmet Needs of Women Living with Parkinson’s: Gaps and Controversies’.

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