Richardson Named to Parkinson's Board

R. Mark RichardsonPittsburgh, March 7, 2017 -- R. Mark Richardson, MD, PhD, assistant professor of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurological Surgery and director of UPMC Presbyterian’s Epilepsy and Movement Disorders Program, was recently appointed to the Parkinson’s Foundation Western Pennsylvania board of directors.

“The Parkinson Foundation Western Pennsylvania is a fantastic organization that provides critical resources to people with PD and their families," Richardson said. "I look forward to helping the foundation expand its outreach even further.”

Dr. Richardson’s clinical specialization is deep brain stimulation (DBS) for movement disorders, as well as comprehensive epilepsy surgery. At UPMC, he created one of the first interventional-MRI DBS programs in the nation, and the only such program in Pennsylvania. Similarly, he recently became one of the first neurosurgeons in the United States to use robotics in both DBS and epilepsy surgery. He is principal investigator for the AADC gene therapy clinical trial for Parkinson’s disease (PD) at UPMC, one of only three institutions in the country currently performing gene therapy for PD.

Dr. Richardson additionally leads a multidisciplinary team studying how the brain produces different aspects of speech, using electrical recordings obtained during the implantation of DBS devices in patients with PD and other movement disorders. This work was recently funded by a BRAIN Initiative grant, as well as by a grant from the Hamot Heatlh Foundation. Dr. Richardson performs DBS surgery at both UPMC Presbyterian and UPMC Hamot.

Dr. Richardson, joined the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh in 2011 after completing a neurosurgical residency at the University of California San Francisco where he received specialized training in deep brain stimulation, epilepsy neurosurgery, and brain mapping during awake surgery. Additionally, he received an NIH National Research Service Award to study gene therapy delivery to the brain.

The Parkinson Foundation Western Pennsylvania was formed in 1995 by volunteers with the purpose of supporting research efforts to find a cure and provide support for those with Parkinson's disease and their families. The foundation has played a vital role in encouraging the growth of regional Parkinson's disease research programs, facilities, and scientists through its interface with research institutions and support of research through research grants. Since its founding, the organization has paid directly, or committed, $750,000 to Parkinson's disease research.

In 2001, the foundation initiated The Parkinson Wellness Program, providing physical exercise, cognitive stimulation, and socialization, all tailored to the needs of people with Parkinson's disease. These programs are offered at five sites in western Pennsylvania along with a high-functioning exercise group through UPMC.