Parkinson's Disease:
Meet the Experts

Meet the experts from the renowned Parkinson's Disease Clinic and Research Center at UC San Francisco, who will be sharing their expertise and insights in the programs Parkinson s: Latest From the Experts and Parkinson s: A Dose of Hope.

Michael J. Aminoff, MD, DSc, FRCP
Krystof Bankiewicz, MD, PhD
Chad Christine, MD
Mariann Di Minno, RN, MA, CNS
Robert H. Edwards, MD
Paul S. Larson, MD
Caroline A. Racine, PhD

Michael J. Aminoff,
Professor and Executive Vice Chair,Department of Neurology; Director of the Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Clinic, UC San Francisco

Dr. Aminoff was born and educated in England, graduating from University College London in 1962 and as a physician from University College Hospital Medical School in 1965. He subsequently trained in neurology and clinical neurophysiology at The National Hospital (Queen Square) in London, and also undertook basic research on spinal physiology at its affiliated Institute of Neurology, being awarded the MD degree (in England, an advanced medical degree based upon research) on completion of his thesis. In 1974, he moved to UCSF where he has been Professor of Neurology since 1982. He was Director of the Clinical Neurophysiology Laboratories at UCSF until 2004, when he became Executive Vice Chair of the department, and also directs the Parkinson's Disease Clinic and Research Center. He is currently directing a gene therapy study of Parkinson's disease, and is involved in other clinical trials and physiological studies of patients with movement disorders.

Dr. Aminoff is the author of over 200 published medical or scientific articles, as well as the author or editor of some 27 books and of numerous chapters on topics related to neurology. His published scientific contributions led to the award of a Doctorate in Science, an advanced doctorate in the Faculty of Science, by the University of London in 2000. He is one of the two editors-in-chief of the four-volume Encyclopedia of the Neurological Sciences (Academic Press, 2003), and one of the series editors of the multi-volume Handbook of Clinical Neurology (Elsevier). He was Editor-in Chief of the journal Muscle & Nerve from 1998 to 2007 and serves on numerous other editorial boards. His other interests include medical history and his new biography of Brown-Séquard was published by Oxford University Press in October 2010.

Dr. Aminoff is a Director of the American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award, American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine in 2006 and the A.B. Baker Award of the American Academy of Neurology for life-time achievements and contributions to medical education in 2007.

Krystof Bankiewicz,
Professor and Kinetics Foundation Chair in Translational Research; Departments of Neurological Surgery and Neurology, UC San Francisco

Dr. Bankiewicz received his MD degree from Jagiellonian University in Crakow and his PhD degree from the Institute of Neurology and Psychiatry in Warsaw, Poland. After his residency and an appointment as Assistant Professor with the Post-graduate Medical Center in Warsaw, he received a Fogarty Fellowship and became a Visiting Fellow and then Visiting Associate Scientist with the Surgical Neurology Branch of the NINDS at the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland. There he became Chief of the Central Nervous System (CNS) Implantation Unit in 1991. Shortly afterward, he came to California to serve as Chief of Preclinical Studies with the Somatix Therapy Corporation in Alameda; the Director of the Division of CNS Implantation and Regeneration with The Parkinson's Institute in Sunnyvale, and from 1994-1998, a visiting scientist with the Laboratory for Functional Imaging of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. From 1997-2001 he returned to the NIH as Acting Chief of the Molecular Therapeutics Section of NINDS. He has been Professor of Neurological Surgery and a Principal Investigator with the Movement Disorders Research Program and the Brain Tumor Research Center at the UCSF since 1998.

Dr. Bankiewicz is an inventor of 8 patents and has published more than 100 peer-reviewed research articles. He has considerable experience in supervising multi-investigator translational programs and is a Principal Investigator on several multi-center, multi-investigator grants. He has supervised a total of 25 post-doctoral fellows and manages a core research group of 20 individuals including technicians, post-doctoral fellows, and a senior scientist. He is currently Professor (In Residence) in the Neurosurgery and Neurology Departments at UCSF.

Throughout his career, he has maintained a strong focus on the development of practical approaches to gene and cell replacement therapies, and has displayed a remarkable ability to synthesize several individual technologies into powerful new approaches to the treatment of such serious diseases as brain cancer and neurodegenerative disorders of the brain, including Parkinson's disease. Dr. Bankiewicz was instrumental at every stage of the Phase-1 clinical trial for AAV-hAADC gene therapy at UCSF.

Chad Christine, MD
Associate Professor, Department of Neurology, UC San Francisco

Dr. Chad Christine joined the UCSF Neurology faculty in 1999 and concentrates his practice and research on movement disorders. He attended medical school at Cornell University Medical College and completed his residency in neurology at UCSF in 1995. After completing residency, Dr. Christine studied synaptic transmission and plasticity in basic science laboratories at UCSF. He finds this experience extremely helpful, since all of the medications used for the treatment of movement disorders affect synaptic transmission and potentially synaptic plasticity.

Along with his colleagues, Dr. Christine sees patients in the UCSF Movement Disorders Clinic. Since confirmatory tests are not available for most movement disorders, Dr. Christine is working to develop methods to provide confirmation of a clinical diagnosis and is interested in understanding environmental risk factors for movement disorders.

Dr. Christine's research on Parkinson's disease (PD) treatment has included collaboration in randomized trials examining the relative benefits of globus pallidus versus subthalamic deep brain stimulation for the treatment of advanced PD. In addition, he and Dr. Michael Aminoff are participating in a long-term, NIH funded study to determine whether creatine slows the progression of PD. Finally, in collaboration with Drs. Aminoff, Starr and Larson, he has completed a phase 1 study of gene therapy study for advanced PD. The study utilizes the gene amino acid decarboxylase, the human gene which converts levodopa into dopamine. He received the William Koller Memorial Fund Award in 2006 in recognition of his work on this new treatment.

In addition to these roles in clinical neurology, Dr. Christine enjoys teaching medical students and residents in his clinic. He has developed a website-based resource for patients with PD and has recently developed a similar website as a resource for residents and other practitioners treating patients with PD.

Mariann Di Minno,
Director of Outreach, Parkinson s Disease Clinic and Clinical Research Center; Department of Neurology, UC San Francisco

Registered nurse Mariann Di Minno serves as the coordinator of the UCSF Parkinson's Disease Clinic & Research Center and co-director of the UCSF Parkinson's Disease Community Outreach, Diagnosis and Treatment Project. Di Minno is a clinical nurse specialist. She received her master's degree in nursing from New York University and completed doctoral training in social and organizational psychology at the University of Chicago. She then went on to teach nursing at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois; Radford College in Radford, Virginia; and Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Currently, Di Minno is a clinical assistant professor in the UCSF School of Nursing. She has a special interest in the impact of cultural beliefs on the understanding of illness and its management, as well as the treatment and management of Parkinson's disease.

Robert H. Edwards, MD
Professor, Departments of Neurology and Physiology; Co-Director, Cell Biology Graduate Program, UC San Francisco

Robert Edwards is a Professor with joint appointments in the Departments of Neurology and Physiology at UCSF. A native of New York City, he graduated from Yale College and Johns Hopkins Medical School. He did clinical training in neurology at UCSF, then joined the laboratory of William Rutter at UCSF for postdoctoral fellowship, where he worked on neurotrophic factors. He first obtained an independent faculty position at UCLA, in the Departments of Neurology and Biological Chemistry, where he began to work on neurotransmitter transporters and Parkinson's disease. In addition, the Edwards lab has contributed to molecular cloning of the first opioid receptor, as well as the synaptic vesicle protein SV2. He moved back to UCSF in 1995 and has continued to make fundamental contributions to our understanding of both neurotransmitter release and neurodegenerative disease. His group has identified three distinct families of proteins that transport classical transmitters into synaptic vesicles, and explored their role in synaptic transmission using a combination of biochemistry, biophysical methods, optical imaging and genetic manipulation in mice. The group is also exploring both physiological and pathological roles of the Parkinson's disease-associated protein alpha-synuclein. He is a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation and has won a number of awards, including two Distinguished Investigator Awards from NARSAD. Dr. Edwards has served on scientific advisory boards of the Hereditary Disease Foundation and the Tourette's Association and currently serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of the National Parkinson's Foundation. He has also served on a study section reviewing grants for NIH, currently reviews papers for many scientific journals, and has served previously on the editorial boards of the Journal of Neuroscience and Neuron. He is currently Co-Director of the UCSF graduate program in Cell Biology.

Paul S. Larson, MD
Associate Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery, UC San Francisco; Chief, Neurosurgery Service, San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Dr. Larson's clinical interests are in stereotactic and functional neurosurgery, particularly with regard to movement disorders and psychiatric disorders. He has been involved in the development and evolution of novel surgical methods for deep brain stimulator implantation, including frameless techniques and the use of high-field, real-time intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). He has extensive surgical experience in the use of intraoperative MRI for a number of neurosurgical applications. During his residency, Dr. Larson was extensively involved in the development of the Norton Hospital intraoperative MRI program, and spent a year in the Speed School of Engineering's Computer Vision and Image Processing Lab studying the basic science of CT and MR image analysis and 3D modeling.

Dr. Larson's research interests include neurostimulation, gene therapy, and other neurorestorative therapies for a variety of neurological diseases, including movement disorders and psychiatric disorders. He is also involved in studies using high-field MR brain imaging for clinical and basic science research. His basic science interests include MR research and the development of new technologies to perform functional neurosurgery using real-time MR imaging.

Caroline A. Racine, PhD
Assistant Adjunct Professor, Departments of Neurological Surgery and Radiation Oncology, UC San Francisco

Dr. Racine is a clinical neuropsychologist who specializes in the assessment of cognition and mood in patients with neurological disorders. She serves as part of the multidisciplinary team for three main patient groups: neurooncology, radiation oncology, and surgical movement disorders. Specifically, she provides neuropsychological assessment for patients prior to surgery or intervention (baseline evaluations) and also provides ongoing assessment in order to monitor cognitive function over time. The results of these evaluations are used to assist with treatment planning and return-to-work strategies.

Dr. Racine is interested in the effects of various types of surgical treatments on cognition and mood, with the overall goal being to minimize negative side effects and significantly improve quality of life. She received her PhD in clinical psychology from Washington University in 2005, with a specific focus in neuropsychology and aging. She subsequently completed an internship in neuropsychology at Duke University, followed by a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the UCSF Memory & Aging Center focusing on aging and dementia, before joining the faculty.

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