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Conversations about Parkinson's
First Tuesday of every month from June 2015 - September 2016
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» What is the Portland Countdown?
» Listen to the podcasts

» Show Topics

» 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 unique Portland Countdown podcast program is to not only educate the community, but to highlight the triennial World Parkinson Congress (WPC).  Each WPC opens its doors to everyone in the Parkinson's community, including people living with Parkinson's and their care partners.


LISTEN to the Portland Countdown



Show Topics

  1. 1. Parkinson's disease: the basics -- Available NOW
    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 NOW
    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 NOW
    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. Losing our Minds: Cognition and PD -- Available NOW
    Special Guest: Daniel Weintraub, MD

  1. 5. DBS: A report from the front lines - Available NOW
    Special Guest: Andres Lozano, MD, PhD, FRCSC, FRSC, FCAHS

    The latest in new surgical and non-surgical interventions.

    6. Stopping disease progression- Growth factors - Available NOW
    Special Guest: Jeffrey Kordower, PhD
  2. 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.

  3. 7. Parkinson's Plus Conditions - Available NOW
    Special Guest: Dr. Lawrence I. Golbe

    In their early stages, conditions like Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, Multiple System Atrophy and Corticobasal Degeneration closely resemble Parkinson's, but they are actually distinct disease. A discussion about what research into these rare conditions is telling us about what the prospects are for those who suffer from them.

    8. Genetics and PD - Available NOW
    Special Guest: Dr. Christine Klein

    Will genetics helps us crack the Parkinson's code? A discussion of how inherited forms of Parkinson's are helping us better understand the underlying structure of the disease.

    9. L-dopa...waiting for the next act- Available NOW
    Special Guest: Dr. Angela Cenci Nilsson

    Why has it taken so long to improve L-dopa delivery so that Parkinson's patients can experience the drug's benefit in a more continuous fashion? A conversation about the latest prospects and the challenges of getting big Pharma to buy in.
  5. 10. Beyond motor symptoms - Available NOW
  6. Special Guest: Dr. K. Ray Chaudhuri
  7. This podcast focuses on the non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's and also explores why it has taken so long for researchers to focus on these challenges.
  9. 11. New Neurons for Old - Available NOW
  10. Special Guest: Dr. Roger Barker 
  11. This podcast reviews the history of fetal tissue and stem cell transplants in Parkinson's disease and what the prospects are for those therapies going forward. 

12. Sleep and Parkinson's Disease - Available NOW

Special Guest: Dr. Sam Frank

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?


13. What causes Parkinson's?  - Available NOW

Special Guest: Dr. Jeff Bronstein

It’s been nearly 200 years since James Parkinson first published his landmark essay about the disease that now bears his name. Yet we still don't full understand its cause. This podcast reviews our changing understanding of what causes Parkinson's and how that may help us find a way to stop disease progression.


14. Patient Perspectives - Available NOW
Special Guests: Pam Quinn and Sara Riggare

In this podcast two leading Parkinson's advocates and educators offer a patient perspective on both research and clinical care. Pam Quinn is a former professional dancer who uses movement training to work with fellow Parkinson's patients around the world. Sara Riggare is an engineer and doctoral student at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm who focuses on using patient perspectives to improve overall care.


15. Previewing Portland: WPC 2016 - Available NOW
Special Guests: Dr. Serge Przedborski and Elizabeth Pollard

In our final podcast we preview the upcoming 4th World Parkinson Congress by talking with Elizabeth "Eli" Pollard, Executive Director of the WPC and Dr. Serge Przedborski, WPC President and co-chair of the Portland Congress.

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 support that has allowed us to make the first ever WPC podcast program.



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