Johns Hopkins Medicine Biomarker Discovery in Parkinson's Disease (U01)

Ted Dawson
Ted Dawson
Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Maryland)


To identify potential changes in proteins, ribonucleic acids (RNAs) and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), which track with Parkinson's disease progression, Dr. Dawson and his team will lead a study that involves participation of people with Parkinson's disease which includes individuals at all stages of disease, as well as healthy age-matched subjects, with the goal of collecting clinical data, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood biosamples, that can be shared broadly with the research community for biomarker discovery. Dr. Dawson's team will study symptoms associated with PD including sleep problems, difficulty with smell (olfaction), and memory as well as other features of PD. This team will be working in cooperation with the Johns Hopkins University, Morris K. Udall Center of Parkinson Disease Research of Excellence, as well as the JHM Movement disorder clinic and direct physician referral to meet the recruitment goals of the study. By looking at individuals at all stages of PD, this study will make major contributions to our understanding and discovery of markers for disease progression.


We are seeking to improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients with Parkinson disease (PD). Five years of support will allow us to characterize a cohort of patients throughout the PD disease spectrum and matched healthy controls in a systematic and generalizable manner, and then obtain their blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to identify biomarkers. Our clinical and cognitive testing and our biofluid ascertainment methods will follow guidelines from the RFA-NS-1211, the Michael J. Fox Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), and the consensus opinion of the Udall Centers regarding cognitive testing. The clinical characterization will include extensive motor testing as well as assessments of many of the non-motor facets of PD, including cognition, sleep, and smell. Many of our study participants will have agreed to autopsy through their participation in the Johns Hopkins Medicine Morris K. Udall Center of Parkinson Disease Research of Excellence, allowing for confirmation of their clinical diagnosis and further investigation of the biomarkers that we identify. The blood will be obtained every 6 months at the time of clinical characterization and the CSF will be obtained yearly. Success of the clinical characterization will allow for a cohort of well-characterized individuals with blood and CSF that others and we may correlate with markers in their blood and CSF.


Goals of Project

  • Resource Building: To characterize a new cohort of individuals with early-stage PD, mid-stage PD, and late-stage PD recruited from two sources: a) JHM Morris K. Udall Parkinson's Disease Research Center of Excellence and b) JHM Movement disorder clinic and direct physician referral. By study completion, we will have documented the clinical and cognitive assessments of individuals throughout the disease spectrum in a systematic and generalizable manner. Moreover, many of the patients will also be participants in the Udall Center longitudinal study and brain donation program, thereby maximizing the clinical and pathologic data from these participants.
  • Resource Building: Obtain blood and cerebrospinal fluid from all participants in a systematic manner in accordance with guidelines for PDBP. Blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) will be correlated with clinical and cognitive findings to further enable biomarker identification.

Enrollment Goals

  • 75 Parkinson's disease participants (varying stages of disease)
  • 75 Healthy participants (various ages)