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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 6, 2010

UI to provide statistical analysis for landmark Parkinson's disease study

University of Iowa investigators in the College of Public Health have been selected to provide core statistical analysis for the Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), a landmark clinical study sponsored by The Michael J. Fox Foundation.

The five-year observational study, being carried out at 18 sites in the United States and Europe, will seek to identify biomarkers of Parkinson's disease progression. A biomarker may be any objectively measurable physical characteristic associated with the presence of disease or any characteristic that changes over time in a way that can be tied to the progression of disease.

Finding a biomarker is critical to the development of next-generation therapies for Parkinson's disease, according to Chris Coffey, UI professor of biostatistics and director of the Clinical Trials Statistical and Data Management Center based in the UI College of Public Health.

"PPMI holds potential not only to accelerate the development of breakthrough Parkinson's treatments for the future, but also to improve diagnosis and treatment of today's generation of Parkinson's patients," Coffey said. "Nothing like this has been undertaken in the study of Parkinson's disease to date. It is an honor to have been selected as the statistics core for this groundbreaking international study."

The PPMI study will use a combination of advanced imaging, biologics sampling and behavioral assessments as it tracks 400 people newly diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and 200 who do not have the disease. Data collected from study subjects will be housed in a central database.

The UI research team, working with the PPMI Steering Committee, will conduct a series of data analyses, such as comparisons among healthy subjects and Parkinson's subjects and examinations of short-term and long-term changes in progression endpoints. These analyses could suggest biomarkers for future studies of interventions in Parkinson's patient populations.

Said Michael J. Fox: "This is an ambitious undertaking, no doubt. But nothing worth having comes easily. Everything we've learned up to now, the partnerships we've worked to forge, the results of research we've funded‚ it's all put us in position to launch this effort. We're ready to roll up our sleeves and, hopefully, get this done."

NOTE TO EDITORS AND NEWS DIRECTORS: This news release includes information provided by the Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF). More information about MJFF and the PPMI is available at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa College of Public Health Office of Communications and External Relations, 4257 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242

MEDIA CONTACT: Hannah Fletcher, 319-384-4277, Writer: Dan McMillan

PHOTOS/CAPTIONS: Low-res image at:; for high-res images, contact Hannah Fletcher, 319-384-4277,