NYU Langone Health announced today the launch of the Parekh Center for Interdisciplinary Neurology, made possible by a gift provided by Deven and Monika Parekh through the Psquared Charitable Foundation. The center helps bridge neuroscientific knowledge across the institution to advance scientific discovery and treatment of neurodegenerative conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and others.
“The Parekh Center for Interdisciplinary Neurology will help unite physicians and researchers from different disciplines and fields to uncover effective, innovative interventions that may prevent or treat these debilitating conditions,” says Un Jung Kang, MD, the Founders Professor of Neurology, professor of neuroscience and physiology, director of translational research at the Marlene and Paolo Fresco Institute for Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders, and co-director of the Parekh Center for Interdisciplinary Neurology at NYU Langone Health.
The center’s work will focus initially on four main research projects to understand the common mechanisms that underlie different neurodegenerative diseases and neurodevelopmental disorders. These inaugural projects examine the cross-disease drivers of pathology, with a focus on the peripheral influences on the central nervous system, the microbiome, and non-neuronal mechanisms, and seek to identify early indicators of multiple sclerosis development; investigate how the gut microbiome affects drug resistance in epilepsy; and determine how two major types of the brain’s non-neuronal support cells, or glial cells, affect the progression of neurodegenerative diseases.
“We are eager to support these interdisciplinary collaborations that advance discovery, engage those outside of traditional neuroscience fields, and bring new medicines and therapies to patients who need them,” says Deven Parekh, managing director at Insight Partners and an overseer of NYU Langone Health.
“Funding these early-stage, innovative, and interdisciplinary approaches to the study of neurodegenerative diseases can be challenging for researchers,” says Monika Parekh. “We hope the launch of this center will usher in a new paradigm of creativity within the scientific community.”
“Our research will focus on the contributors to disease progression with the goal of getting patients into treatment earlier and avoiding the worsening of their condition,” says Shane A. Liddelow, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Neuroscience and Physiology and co-director of the Parekh Center for Interdisciplinary Neurology. “Neuroinflammation and the role of glial cells in the progression of neurodegenerative disease is an emerging field of study, but we believe there are strong associations waiting to be discovered—and this new center will now have the tools to advance the science in this area.”
To advance innovative research, the center will issue pilot project grants within the NYU Langone community to encourage researchers to think outside the box and apply their unique perspectives and skills in different scientific and clinical areas to further research of neurological disorders.
The center’s directors and scientific advisory committee comprise faculty across multiple disciplines and departments, including the Departments of Neurology and Psychiatry; the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology; the Neuroscience Institute; and the Center for Human Genetics and Genomics.