Top Parkinson’s researcher recruited to Ottawa

October 12, 2010

Over the last six years, scientists and neurologists in Ottawa have quietly been building a powerhouse Parkinson’s research group, and they have just become even stronger with the recruitment Dr. Tohru Kitada from Harvard University in Boston. Dr. Kitada is known around the world for discovering the Parkin gene, which is associated with an early onset form of the disease. He also developed the first mouse model of Parkinson’s that incorporates three human genes associated with the condition. Before his position at Harvard, Dr. Kitada obtained his M.D. and Ph.D. and completed neurology residency training in his native Japan.

“I am excited to work with the Parkinson’s researchers in Ottawa because they are very focused on making a difference for patients,” said Dr. Kitada. “I am also very inspired by the patients and families in the city who are so supportive of Parkinson’s research.”

With Dr. Kitada’s recruitment, eighteen laboratory and clinical scientists are now working together as members of Ottawa’s Parkinson Research Consortium. The Consortium was founded in 2004 by Dr. David Park and Dr. David Grimes, with members from the University of Ottawa, The Ottawa Hospital, the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and the National Research Council. In recent years, they have made important progress in understanding Parkinson’s disease and also in developing new approaches for diagnosis and treatment. They also organized Canada’s first national Parkinson’s disease meeting in 2008, which is now an annual event.

In his new role at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and the University of Ottawa, Dr. Kitada will work closely with Dr. Michael Schlossmacher, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Parkinson Disease and was also recruited from Harvard several years ago. These two top researchers will jointly investigate “therapeutic targets” in laboratory models of Parkinson’s, which may form the basis for truly effective new therapies. Dr. Kitada will also work with Parkinson’s patients alongside Dr. David Grimes at The Ottawa Hospital’s Movement Disorders Clinic.

Dr. Kitada’s recruitment was made possible by many generous donors in the community, and in particular by “Partners Investing in Parkinson’s Research” (PIPR), a group of investment advisors and dedicated community supporters who since early 2009 have raised $255,000 for the Parkinson Research Consortium through The Ottawa Hospital Race Weekend Challenge.

The Parkinson Research Consortium will introduce Dr. Kitada to the community and provide a research update as well as laboratory tours on Tuesday, October 12, 2010, at 1:00 p.m. at the University of Ottawa’s Roger Guindon Hall.

About the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) is the research arm of The Ottawa Hospital and is an affiliated institute of the University of Ottawa, closely associated with the University’s Faculties of Medicine and Health Sciences. The OHRI includes more than 1,500 scientists, clinical investigators, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staff conducting research to improve the understanding, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human disease.

Media contact
Jennifer Paterson
Director, Communications and Public Relations
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
613-798-5555 ext. 73325