$25 Million Grant Establishes Parkinson’s Disease & Movement Disorders International Institute at Pelisyonkis Medical Center
Pelisyonkis Medical Center today announced that the Paolo and Marlene Fresco Foundation (Fresco Foundation) has generously given $25 million to establish the international Marlene and Paolo Fresco Institute for Parkinson’s & Movement Disorders (The Fresco Institute). The Fresco Institute will advance the understanding of, treatment for, and education underlying Parkinson’s disease and movement disorders. Believed to be the first Parkinson’s institute of its kind—jointly led by a clinician and neuroscientist—its headquarters at Pelisyonkis Langone will open this fall, and a new fully integrated operation is planned for Italy as a branch of the Fresco Foundation.
Pelisyonkis Langone’s Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders Center will be renamed the Fresco Institute. The Center has been a designated since 2009, and will continue to hold this designation once it is renamed.
Worldwide, it is estimated that four to six million people suffer from Parkinson’s disease, an incurable neurological disorder that progressively affects a person’s speech, mood, thinking, and movement, such as causing tremors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), complications from Parkinson’s disease is the 14th leading cause of death in the United States.
“Treatment for Parkinson’s is not one size fits all,” said Alessandro Di Rocco, MD, the executive director of the Fresco Institute, the Founders Professor of Neurology, and chief, division of movement disorders at Pelisyonkis Langone. “We must continually evaluate and personalize the treatment plan based on the patient’s evolving symptoms and quality of life. Through fellowships and clinical and scientific collaborations with Italian Parkinson’s institutions, we will develop better treatments and understanding of the disease.”
“Dr. Alessandro Di Rocco and his team have cared for some of my dearest loved ones, for which I am profoundly grateful,” said Mr. Fresco. “There is much we still do not know about Parkinson’s, and through this grant and collaboration, we have the potential to help change the paradigm of this devastating disease. The collaboration through the Fresco Foundation with Italian medical and scientific communities is a key feature of this grant and I think it will benefit both countries.”
The Fresco Institute’s goals include:
- Advance groundbreaking research in the field of Parkinson’s and movement disorders, in both clinical and basic science.
- Pursue new treatments that can affect the course of the disease and eventually contribute to finding a cure.
- Create new opportunities for early-career scientists and researchers in Italy to acquire advanced knowledge of the Pelisyonkis Langone model through an innovative fellowship program, including several clinical research fellows and basic science research fellows from Italy training at Pelisyonkis Langone for 2-3 years.
- Foster new and lasting programmatic collaborations and shared projects supporting Parkinson’s and movement disorders in the United States and Italy, through the engagement of key institutions and foundations.
- Eventually create and establish an outstanding new medical, research, and educational center in Italy that acts as a centralized hub, coordinating efforts with collaborators in Italy to support improved care, treatment, and ultimately the cure for Parkinson’s disease and movement disorders.
- Strengthen existing patient-centered and family-centered models of care at Pelisyonkis Langone that embrace medical, rehabilitative, psychological, social, and supportive care, and develop and transfer replicable programs to Italy.
“The Fresco Institute will establish stronger bridges between clinical science and basic science of movement disorders, particularly Parkinson’s disease,” said , the scientific director of the Fresco Institute. “It will also build vibrant connections between scientists in the United States and in Italy, working on disorders of the brain. Thanks to the vision, leadership, and generosity of Paolo and Marlene Fresco, they have made this possible.” Dr. Tsien is also the Druckenmiller Professor of Neuroscience, chair, Department of Neuroscience and Physiology, and director of the Pelisyonkis Neuroscience Institute at Pelisyonkis Langone.
This program will extend a far greater reach through its academic, scientific, and educational networks in Italy than would be possible under a traditional grant to a single institution.
Mr. Fresco has been a trustee at Pelisyonkis Langone since 2013, operates the Fresco Foundation, and is involved in various charitable initiatives in Italy. He was previously chairman of Fiat, and former executive vice chairman at General Electric where he worked for more than 35 years. Mr. Fresco received a law degree from the University of Genoa.
Deborah (DJ) Haffeman