Health + Behavior

UCLA Designated Center of Excellence by Huntington’s Disease Society of America


The Department of Neurologyat UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine has been designated a regional Centerof Excellence by the Huntington's Disease Society of America (HDSA). UCLA wasone of four universities across the nation competitively awarded the prestigiousdesignation this year.

The designationincludes $50,000 a year in funding to help support a multidisciplinary team ofhealth care professionals with expertise in Huntington's disease. The team willprovide comprehensive medical and social services as well as education,outreach and research opportunities to the HD community.

"Themultidisciplinary team approach to treatment of chronic neurologic illness hasbeen widely established as the best model for both health care providers andpatients," said Dr. Susan Perlman, clinical professor of neurology, who directsthe HDSA Center of Excellence at UCLA. "Patients and families with HD have beenrelentless in seeking treatment, information and support in dealing with thisprogressive genetic disorder. We are eager to help them in this quest."

The Huntington'sDisease Society of America currently supports 21 HDSA Centers of Excellenceacross the country, including two additional University of Californiafacilities in Sacramento and San Diego.

"The Huntington'sDisease Society of America is committed to identifying and designating 25 HDSACenters of Excellence by 2006," said Barbara Boyle, HDSA national executivedirector and chief executive officer. "The addition of UCLA means that our HDfamilies living in the Greater Los Angeles area and Orange County will nolonger have to travel to San Diego or Sacramento to receive the exceptionalquality of care offered by an HDSA Center of Excellence. We look forward toworking with the staff at UCLA to make this an outstanding Center ofExcellence, which we will formally dedicate in January 2005."

Huntington'sdisease is an inherited degenerative disease that progressively robs patientsof the ability to think, judge appropriately, control their emotions and performcoordinated tasks. Huntington's disease typically begins in mid-life, betweenthe ages of 30 and 50. Each child of an affected parent has a 50 percent riskfor inheriting the disease. There is no effective treatment or cure for thisfatal illness that affects 30,000 Americans and places another 200,000 at risk.

UCLA offers aweekly Huntington's Disease Clinic and a full spectrum of services, includinggenetic testing and counseling, psychiatry, physical and occupational therapy,nutrition intervention, caregiver and patient support, education programs, andcommunity outreach. UCLA is also one of the sites designated for ongoingmulti-center, placebo-controlled clinical trials for HD. See

In addition toPerlman, core members of the HDSA Center of Excellence at UCLA include Dr.Daniel Geschwind, associate professor of neurology in-residence and chief ofneurogenetics; Dr. George Jackson, assistant professor of neurologyin-residence; Dr. Yvette Bordelon, assistant professor of neurologyin-residence; Michelle Fox, genetics counselor; and Joyce Bryan, social workconsultant. Psychiatry and nursing consultants, as well as a full-timecoordinator, will be added shortly.

The UCLADepartment of Neurology encompasses more than a dozen research, clinical andteaching programs. These programs cover brain mapping and neuroimaging,movement disorders, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, neurogenetics,nerve and muscle disorders, epilepsy, neuro-oncology, neurotology,neuropsychology, headaches and migraines, neurorehabilitation, andneurovascular disorders. In 2003 the department ranked No. 1 among its peersnationwide in National Institutes of Health funding, with $23.4 million inactive research grants.

The Huntington's DiseaseSociety of America is the only voluntary nonprofit health agency dedicated toboth the care and cure of Huntington's disease. HDSA consists of more than 35volunteer-based chapters and affiliates, more than 150 support groups, 12regions, 21 HDSA Centers of Excellence, 18 senior research investigators whocomprise HDSA's prestigious research program, the HDSA Coalition for the Cure,and more than 25 grants and fellowship recipients. In 2003 HDSA funded morethan $3.5 million in HD research and more than $4 million in care,including the HDSA Center of Excellence program.



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