News Release: Emory Healthcare, Research, School of Medicine

Feb. 10,  2009

Emory to Advance Parkinson's Disease Clinical Research with Recent Gift

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The Emory School of Medicine has received a pledge of $2 million from Mary Louise "Lou" Brown Jewell to establish the A. Worley Brown Chair in Neurology in honor of her late husband.

Worley Brown, former CEO of Rock-Tenn Corporation, was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1988 and died from complications of the disease in 1997. Lou also has donated $500,000 to renovate the A. Worley Brown Family Parkinson's Disease Clinical Research Unit at Wesley Woods. Both contributions are the lead gifts for an endowment program to raise money for research, service and education in neurology, specifically Parkinson's and other movement disorders.

Lou's personal experiences led to her desire to support research into Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders. In addition to her first husband’s illness and death from Parkinson's disease, she endured the death of her mother as a result of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

When Worley was diagnosed with Parkinson's, Lou's first reaction was relief that he did not have a brain tumor. As his disease progressed, her hopes faded. He also suffered from Lewy body dementia, a more progressive form of Parkinson's, which effects memory and the ability to carry out simple actions and to reason, as well as causing hallucinations.

"To know the wonderful vibrant person he was and to see how this disease robbed him of that was devastating," says Lou, who depended on in-home nurses to help her care for her husband for the last five years of his life. "My husband was a very smart and capable man and he lost his sense of reasoning. He always had a booming voice but over time, the timbre of his voice went down until he didn't talk at all."

She hopes her gift to Emory will help expand research to improve detection, advance treatment, and, eventually, discover a cure for Parkinson's.

"I want Emory to be one of the leading research institutions where they can discover what causes Parkinson's and what causes Lewy body dementia. I want there to be a cure, and through the research being performed at Emory I feel that can be accomplished," Lou says.

Neurologist Allan Levey, MD, PhD, professor and chairman of the Department of Neurology at Emory School of Medicine, says the gift will accelerate the development a comprehensive Parkinson's disease Center at Emory.

"Our Parkinson's disease clinical and research programs, under the leadership of Dr. Mahlon DeLong, and more recently, Dr. Stewart Factor, have been second to none, bringing discoveries such as novel surgical therapies from the laboratory to clinical practice,” Levey says. "The impact of our program has been felt around the world.  The Jewell gift will help us move the program to an even higher level, focusing on comprehensive care that coordinates multiple medical specialties centered on our patients, and integrating research and education into the patient experience."

Stewart Factor, DO, professor, Emory School of Medicine, director of Emory's Movement Disorders Program, says the Brown Chair will enable advances in translational research, which are aimed at speeding the transformation of basic science discoveries into advances in clinical therapeutics. The research enabled by the endowed chair, in combination with other movement disorders research being performed at Emory, could lead to major advances in Parkinson’s disease.

"We are bringing together research and clinical practice in a number of areas.  Currently, there are 20 active clinical trials underway at Emory in Parkinson's and movement disorders studying a variety of drugs to improve treatment," Factor says. "All of these things are coming together to create the most comprehensive center for Parkinson's disease treatment and research in the Southeast."

This gift is part of the private support being sought for the recently announced Campaign Emory, a $1.6 billion fundraising endeavor that combines private support and the University’s people, places and programs to make a powerful contribution to the world. The campaign is expected to transform every school and unit of the university. Investments in the campaign fuel efforts to address fundamental challenges:  improving health, gaining ground in science and technology, resolving conflict, harnessing the power of the arts, and educating the heart and mind.


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service. Its components include schools of medicine, nursing, and public health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; the Emory Winship Cancer Institute; and Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center has a $2.3 billion budget, 17,000 employees, 2,300 full-time and 1,900 affiliated faculty, 4,300 students and trainees, and a $4.9 billion economic impact on metro Atlanta.

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