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Conversations about Parkinson's
June 2015 - September 2016
Starting June 2015!

» What is the Portland Countdown?

» Show Topics & Special Guest

» Meet the Hosts
» Meet the Special Guests

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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
    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
    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!
    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: TBA

  8. 5. Stopping disease progression- Growth factors
    Special Guest: TBA
  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: TBA
  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: TBA
  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: TBA

  15. 9. Nonmotor Symptoms
    Special Guest: TBA

  16. 10. Genetics and PD
    Special Guest: TBA
  17. How can studying rare inherited forms of Parkinsonism help the war on PD?

  18. 11. What's taking so long?
    Special Guest: TBA

  19. 12. Optimizing Treatment
    Special Guest: TBA

  20. 13. Beyond DBS
    Special Guest: TBA
  21. The latest in new surgical and non-surgical interventions.

  22. 14. Placebo Puzzles
    Special Guest: TBA
  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: TBA


Meet the hosts!

Jon Palfreman, PhD, is KEZI Distinguished Professor of Broadcast Journalism at the University of Oregon, USA. Palfreman 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 are of Parkinson's Disease research, Palfreman 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 is a 2006 Nieman Fellow in Journalism at Harvard University. 

Dave Iverson has worked in public broadcasting for over 30 years. In addition to his work on KQED public radio's Forum program, Dave works as a television correspondent, producer and writer. He was the correspondent, writer 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 disease. He also serves as a special correspondent for the PBS NewsHour where he's reported on the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake and covered various health care stories.

His other recent film credits include the 2012 film "The Memory Be Green" which documented the creation of a new play directed by Jonathan Moscone and inspired by the story of his father, the late San Francisco Mayor George Moscone. Iverson was also the writer, narrator and co-producer of the 1999 national Emmy award winning PBS documentary "The 30 Second Candidate." He's currently working on a documentary titled Capturing Grace, which focuses on the Mark Morris Dance Group in New York and their work with Parkinson's disease patients.

As a producer/writer and executive producer, Iverson's awards include a national Emmy Award, the Alfred I. DuPont Columbia Award, the Gabriel Award, the New York Film Festival Gold and Silver Awards, the Chicago Film Festival Gold Hugo, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Gold Award, and the Ohio State award. Regional awards include four Chicago Regional Emmy awards, as well as over 50 Milwaukee Press Club, Northwest Broadcast News Association and Wisconsin Broadcast Association awards. 

Iverson has served as an adviser and consultant for the MacArthur Foundation, Editorial Integrity for Public Media, PBS, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Independent Television Service and KQED.

Iverson is a graduate of Stanford University and received his MS in Telecommunications from Indiana University. 


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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