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Conversations about Parkinson's
First Tuesday of every month from June 2015 - September 2016
Starting June 2, 2015!

» What is the Portland Countdown?

» Show Topics & Special Guest

» Meet the Hosts
» Meet the Special Guests

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» Sign up for Portland Countdown eNotices



What is the Portland Countdown?


In preparation for the 4th World Parkinson Congress in Portland in 2016, two highly experienced journalists (who are also living with Parkinson's) survey the landscape of Parkinson's disease research and treatment by interviewing neuroscientists, neurologists, and people with Parkinson's (PwP). These FREE series of 15 thirty-minute podcasts will not only address common questions asked by PwP, but will also serve as a primer on the biomedical research currently underway.

The aim of this newly created and unique Portland Countdown is to not only educate the community, but to highlight the World Parkinson Congresses as the only high level scientific global Congress that opens its doors to everyone in the Parkinson's community, including people living with Parkinson's and their care partners.

We hope this series of talks will not only educate community members, but will encourage people to attend the WPC 2016 to learn more about Parkinson's and to engage with others in the community.


Do you want to be notified when the podcasts are available? Sign up for our Portland Countdown eNotices to know exactly when each podcast is available starting June 2015!



Portland Countdown Show Topics


Below is a a list of preliminary topics of what will be covered but the final topics will be refined over the coming months to reflect the latest research developments.


  1. 1. Parkinson's disease: the basics -- Available June 2, 2015
    Special Guest: Andrew Lees, MD, FRCP, FMedSci
  2. The history of what we know about Parkinson's disease beginning with James Parkinson's famous essay in 1817 on through the current state of Parkinson's disease research.

  3. 2. Stopping disease progression: Alpha synuclein -- Available July 7, 2015
    Special Guests: Patrik Brundin, MD, PhD and Kimberley Gannon, PhD
  4. Basic researchers are hard at work trying to understand the pathology of Parkinson's and discover new drug targets. One likely bad actor is a protein called alpha-synuclein. What do we know about how it kills brain cells and what might be done to stop it?

  5. 3. When in doubt: Exercise! -- Available August 4, 2015
    Special Guests: Helen Bronte-Stewart, MD, MS and Terry Ellis, PT, PhD
  6. Everyone tells patients to get plenty of exercise. Neurologists seem to be saying that the amount of exercise you get is as important as the pills you take. Why? What does the research tell us? And what exercise is best?

  7. 4. Parkinson Plus Conditions
    Special Guest: Agenda still being finalized

  8. 5. Stopping disease progression- Growth factors
    Special Guest: Jeffrey Kordower, PhD & Jean Burns
  9. Another once promising disease-modifying strategy involves using growth-factors to revive weakened dopamine neurons. But recent research suggests that at diagnosis the neural damage may be so advanced that there may not be many neurons left to rescue.

  10. 6. L-dopa...waiting for the next act
    Special Guest: Peter LeWitt, MD and Angela Cenci-Nillson, PhD
  11. A conversation about efforts to develop ways to deliver L-dopa more continuously, thereby mitigating motor complications-- and the market challenges of getting big Pharma to buy in.

  12. 7. I wake to sleep and take my waking slow
    Special Guest: Irene Richard, MD and Joseph Friedman, MD
  13. That line from a poem by Theodore Roethke describes a common nemesis for Parkinson's patients: sleep. Yet disrupted sleep may also be an early warning sign of the disease. What can sleep tells us about the disease and what can we do to make sleeplessness less a burden for those living with PD?

  14. 8. Losing our Minds: Cognition and PD
    Special Guest: Daniel Weintraub, MD and Roger Barker, PhD, MRCP

  15. 9. Nonmotor Symptoms
    Special Guest: Ray Chaudhuri, MD FRCP DSc and Sam Frank

  16. 10. Genetics and PD
    Special Guest: Christine Klein, MD and Andrew Singleton, PhD
  17. How can studying rare inherited forms of Parkinsonism help the war on PD?

  18. 11. What's taking so long?
    Special Guest: Todd Sherer, PhD and Tom Isaacs

  19. 12. Optimizing Treatment
    Special Guest: Peter Schmidt, PhD and Michael Okun, MD

  20. 13. Beyond DBS
    Special Guest: Andres Lozano, MD, PhD, FRCSC, FRSC, FCAHS
  21. The latest in new surgical and non-surgical interventions.

  22. 14. Placebo Puzzles
    Special Guest: Jon Stoessl, CM, MD, FRCPC
  23. The placebo effect (especially powerful in Parkinson's disease) is both a potent tool for clinicians and a methodological co-founder for researchers. Many promising disease-modifying treatments have failed when tested in placebo-controlled trials.

         15. The Patient Perspective

         Special Guest: Pamela Quinn and Sara Riggare


Meet the hosts!

Jon Palfreman, PhD, is KEZI Distinguished Professor of Broadcast Journalism at the University of Oregon, USA. Palfreman, the author of BRAIN STORMS: The Race to Unlock the Mysteries of Parkinson’s Disease, (due out in September 2015) is an Emmy, Dupont and Peabody Award-winning journalist, and recipient of the Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Writing. He is a three-time winner of the American Association for the Advancement of Science science-writing prize, three-time winner of the National Association of Science Writers "Science-in-Society" Journalism Award and a winner of the Writers Guild Award for best script. In the area of Parkinson's Disease research, Palfreman previously co-authored a book with neuroscientist Bill Langston (LPD co-Editor-in-Chief), The Case of the Frozen Addicts, and produced two NOVA documentaries chronicling the story of the MPTP cases, NOVA: The Case of the Frozen Addict and NOVA: Brain Transplant. He was recently made Social Media Editor of the Journal of Parkinson's Disease. Palfreman was a 2006 Nieman Fellow in Journalism at Harvard University.

Dave Iverson is an independent film producer and veteran journalist. His most recent film is “Capturing Grace”, a feature documentary about a group of dancers with Parkinson’s disease and their unique collaboration with the world renowned Mark Morris Dance Group. The film won the Audience Favorite Award at the 2014 Mill Valley Film Festival, the People’s Choice Award at the 2014 Starz Denver Film Festival and the Audience Choice Award at the 2015 Sedona International Film Festival. It will be broadcast by local PBS stations beginning in June, 2015. Iverson was also the writer, correspondent and co-producer/director of the 2009 PBS Frontline documentary “My Father, My Brother and Me” which explored his family’s battle with Parkinson’s as well as the scientific, ethical and political issues raised by this condition. An earlier documentary of Iverson’s for PBS, “The Thirty Second Candidate”, won a National Emmy Award in 1999. 


Iverson has served as a radio host at San Francisco’s NPR affiliate KQED and as a special correspondent for the PBS NewsHour. In addition to his film and broadcast work, Iverson now serves as Contributing Editor for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and is a founding member of the foundation’s Patient Council.


We are very thankful to Parkinson's Resources of Oregon (PRO) for their sponsorship support that has allowed us to make the first ever WPC podcast program possible.



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