By Anna Shavers
Cure Parkinson’s and Van Andel Institute (VAI) jointly awarded the 2022 Tom Isaacs Scientific Award to Michael Okun, M.D., chair of neurology and executive director of the Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases at UF Health, and Ray Dorsey, M.D., the David Levy Professor of Neurology at the University of Rochester, on September 29th.
Set up in memory of the organization’s late co-founder and President, Cure Parkinson’s created the Tom Isaacs Award to recognize researchers who have significantly impacted the lives of people living with Parkinson’s and have involved people with Parkinson’s in a participatory way in their work.
Cure Parkinson’s and VAI honored Drs. Okun and Dorsey for their inspirational work in the Parkinson’s community including the release of Ending Parkinson’s, which they coauthored in 2020 with Todd Sherer, CEO of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, and Bastiaan Bloem, M.D., Ph.D., Medical Director, Department of Neurology and Professor at Radboud University Medical Center.
“We are delighted to present the 2022 Tom Isaacs Scientific Award, jointly to Michael & Ray. For the incredible work they have inspired with WHO and with Congress, in driving towards ending Parkinson’s,” said Lyndsey Isaacs, trustee at Cure Parkinson’s and wife to the late Tom Isaacs, co-founder and President of Cure Parkinson’s.
Ending Parkinson’s highlighted the urgent need for better education about Parkinson’s and outlined a plan to “Prevent, Advocate, Care and Treat (PACT) one of the great health challenges of our time.”
Recommendations in the book have acted as catalysts for the World Health Organization to address Parkinson’s as a global health priority and for the US government to introduce legislation to “end Parkinson’s Disease,” a movement encompassing the principles of PACT recommended by the authors.
Since the release of Ending Parkinson’s, Dr. Okun continues to exemplify the essence of the Tom Isaacs Award through his treatment, care, advocacy and research for people living with Parkinson’s. Dr. Okun serves as the National Medical Advisor of the Parkinson’s Foundation, advances surgical treatments for people living with Parkinson’s and pushes advocacy forward with the goal of ending Parkinson’s for good.
“The Parkinson’s Foundation extends our congratulations to Drs. Okun and Dorsey for this prestigious award,” said John Lehr, president and CEO of the Parkinson’s Foundation. “We are grateful for their efforts to shine a light on Parkinson’s disease as a global health priority.”
Cure Parkinson’s and VAI presented the award during the annual Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Diseasesymposium and Rallying to the Challenge meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan.