APDA Diversity in Parkinson’s Disease Research Roundtable

Parkinson’s disease (PD) affects people of all ethnicities, ancestries, and geographies, yet for many years, research efforts have not reflected that heterogeneity. Clinical trials have not included people from the varied backgrounds that we see within the PD population and most research topics have not factored in the diversity of the PD community. This has led to results that are not applicable to everyone with PD. The PD research community is well aware of this dilemma, and APDA decided to do something about it.

In 2019, APDA held the first-of-its-kind Diversity in Parkinson’s Disease Research Conference. The conference led to the establishment of the APDA Diversity in Parkinson’s Disease Research Grant – a one-year grant to study the health inequities and/or differences among under-studied PD communities, across the spectrum of ethnicity, ancestry, geography, socioeconomic conditions, and gender. Since then, we have awarded six of these unique grants, and now, our vanguard – the first recipients of this grant – are ready to present their research results. We are excited to share their findings with you.

Watch the broadcast now on APDA’s YouTube Channel and be sure to subscribe to the APDA YouTube channel for more informative and important resources for Parkinson’s disease

For medical professtionals seeking CME credits who participated in the Live program on November 1, 2023: The Federation of State Medical Boards designates this live activity for a maximum of 1.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

If you registered and watched the event live, you have received an email with the post-event survey link. If you have not received your survey link, please contact Elvin Yao at eyao@apdaparkinson.org to verify your participation and have your link sent to you again.

At this time, watching this recorded event will not qualify you for CME credits. APDA will reach out again if this recorded event becomes eligible for CME credits in the future.


Chantale Branson, MD is an Assistant Professor of Neurology in the Department of Internal Medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. Her research interests include understanding and improving health disparities among African Americans with Parkinson’s Disease (PD). Dr. Branson is a medical graduate of Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts.  She completed her residency training in Neurology and subspecialty training in Movement disorders and Sleep Medicine at Boston University Medical Center.

Luis Columna, PhD is an Associate Professor of Kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and his research is focused on ways to increase the participation of families of individuals with disabilities in physical activity, with a focus on Latino families. He is one of only a few Latino faculty members in a research-focused Kinesiology department in the United States. Dr. Columna has spent over a decade engaged in research exploring and examining physical activity experiences of Latino families who have children with and without disabilities. Importantly, he is the developer of the Fit Families intervention and has led several research teams to conduct randomized controlled trials to explore the efficacy of this program for parents of children with developmental disabilities such as autism. Dr. Columna aims to share his cultural background, expertise, leadership, training, and passion for this most recent project for Latino/as with PD.

Erin Foster, PhD is an Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy, Neurology, and Psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, and a rehabilitation researcher with special expertise in cognition, activity performance, and community participation among people with Parkinson disease (PD). Dr. Foster received her clinical Doctorate in Occupational Therapy, PhD in Rehabilitation Science, and completed postdoctoral training in clinical investigation and cognitive science at Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Foster directs the Cognitive and Occupational Performance Laboratory, which generates knowledge to guide the development of more effective and comprehensive rehabilitation programs for people with neurological disorders and cognitive dysfunction. Her research focuses on understanding how cognitive dysfunction in PD impacts everyday life, the development of cognitive rehabilitation and self-management approaches for people with PD, and improving health equity and reducing health disparities among people with PD. She has federal and foundation research grants related to these topics. As a licensed occupational therapist and consultant with Washington University’s Program in Occupational Therapy’s Clinical Practice, Dr. Foster helps guide therapists treating clients with PD and related disorders.

Jennifer G. Goldman, MD, MS is a fellowship-trained Movement Disorders neurologist with certification in Behavioral Neurology and Neuropsychiatry. Dr. Goldman is an internationally recognized clinician, researcher, and educator who has focused her career on the non-motor and neuropsychiatric aspects of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and other movement disorders, improving treatments and outcomes, and implementing innovative interdisciplinary care models. She graduated from Princeton University, received her MD from Northwestern University, and completed her neurology residency at Washington University in St. Louis and movement disorder fellowship and MS in clinical research at Rush University. Dr. Goldman previously served as the first-ever Section Chief for PD and Movement Disorders at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and as a Professor at Northwestern University and Rush University in Chicago, IL. She has published over 100 articles and scholarly works, received multiple research grants, and developed innovative clinical programs and educational activities for healthcare professionals and patient communities. Dr. Goldman received the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM) Women in Neurodegenerative Disease Rehabilitation Science award in 2022. She has held numerous leadership roles in national and international organizations and is currently the Secretary-Elect for the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society and Chair of the Lewy Body Dementia Association (LBDA) Scientific Advisory Council and LBDA Industry Advisory Council. Dr. Goldman continues to develop novel ways to advance research and clinical care for people affected by PD and other movement disorders.

Karen Hegland, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences at the University of Florida, where she also serves as Associate Department Chair and Program Director of the Master’s program for Speech-Language Pathology. She is the Principal Investigator of the Laboratory for the study of Upper Airway Dysfunction (UAD lab), whose mission it is to improve clinical outcomes and quality of life in patients with speech, swallow and/or cough disorders through research, clinical care, and education. Dr. Hegland’s research interests include disorders of the upper airway and respiratory systems resulting from neurodegenerative diseases, with a focus on Parkinson disease (PD) and atypical forms of Parkinsonism. Dr. Hegland received her PhD in 2006 from the University of Florida and then went on to complete a Career Development Award through Veterans Affairs (VA) at the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center in Gainesville, Florida. Following that, she completed NIH-funded postdoctoral training under the mentorship of Dr. Paul Davenport, where she focused on respiratory physiology and respiratory somatosensation. She joined the faculty at the University of Florida in 2012 and was granted tenure and promotion in 2018. She has been funded by the NIH since 2014, and her highly collaborative research has led to advances in the understanding and management of airway protection disorders in PD. Dr. Hegland’s current studies are focused on understanding the impact of deep brain stimulation (DBS) on upper airway functions in people with PD, as well as disparities in the utilization of DBS among different patient groups.

Laura Andrea Prieto, PhD is a primary care postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Wisconsin Madison working with Dr. Kristen Pickett from the Sensory Motor Integration Lab. Dr. Prieto received her Ph.D. in Kinesiology with a concentration on Motor Control and Behavior at the University of Wisconsin Madison. Her research focus is on adapted physical activity and dance for Latino/a older adults with and without disabilities. Dr. Prieto is especially interested in the factors that affect motivation and access to physical activity opportunities and the development of culturally relevant physical activity interventions. Recently, she co-led a parent-mediated physical activity program for autistic children and their families with Dr. Luis Columna, known as Fit Families. Dr. Prieto aims to translate her skills working with families to focus on how to reach more Latino/as with PD and their care partners with meaningful and culturally relevant physical activity interventions.

Paula Reyes is a PhD student at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.  She is interested in studying the genetic basis of neuropsychiatric traits in neurodegenerative disorders through bioinformatic and epidemiological approaches. She also serves as a research coordinator in MEX-PD, a research consortium devoted to understanding the genetic, cognitive, and physiological basis of Parkinson’s Disease in Mexico, and is part of the Global Parkinson’s Genetics Program Trainee Network.

Dominique Woodhouse, COTA/L is a clinical research coordinator for Erin Foster’s Cognitive and Occupational Performance Laboratory. Dominique earned her Bachelor of Science from Southern Illinois University in 2014 and her Associates of Applied Science to become an Occupational Therapy Assistant in 2020 from St. Louis Community College. She is passionate about occupational therapy and working with older adults. Dominique’s passion for helping older adults comes from her loving relationship with her grandparents. She is a native of the St. Louis Metro area who wants to use her skills as an occupational therapy health care professional to improve the lives of the community at large.

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