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National Parkinson Foundation designates UNC as 'Center of Excellence'

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The National Parkinson Foundation has designated the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as an NPF Center of Excellence.

With this accolade, the UNC School of Medicine and UNC Hospitals became the first medical center in North Carolina to join the ranks of only 42 NPF Centers of Excellence worldwide. UNC is the only such center in the North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia region. "This is quite an honor for our Parkinson's program," said Dr. Xuemei Huang, an assistant professor in UNC's Department of Neurology and medical director of the newly designated NPF Center of Excellence at UNC Hospitals. "It is a validation of our department's increased focus on neurodegenerative disorders over the last three years. That is leading to better patient care informed by the latest cutting-edge research."

After finishing her medical training, Huang earned a Ph.D. and completed postdoctoral training in Parkinson's-related research. Then she completed a clinical movement disorder fellowship at Emory University in Atlanta. She joined the UNC faculty in 2002 when she founded the Movement Disorders Clinic. She was soon joined by Dr. Richard Murrow, and the number of Parkinson's patients treated in the clinic has since grown to more than 300. Parkinson's disease is the second most common age-related disorder after Alzheimer's, and the number of people with Parkinson's is expected to increase dramatically over the next 10-12 years as the population of people aged 65 and older expands.

The NPF notified UNC of the designation in a letter to Huang. "This designation constitutes NPF's public seal of approval, defining the gold standard in Parkinson research, support and care," the letter said. The letter said further that UNC is eligible to apply for grants from the foundation next year to support basic or clinical research, comprehensive care for Parkinson disease and outreach services. One of UNC's near-term goals for its NPF Cent
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Contact: Stephanie Crayton-Robinson
scrayton@unch.unc.edu
919-966-2860
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
1-Jul-2004


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