Category: Health Magazine, Summer 2023

Title:Fund a Fellow program celebrates 10 years

Author: Camille Scarborough
Date Published: June 20, 2023

More than 80 million Americans will be affected by a neurodegenerative disorder by 2030, yet there are simply not enough specialists to meet this growing demand. Only about 10% of current patients see a specialist, putting most at risk for complications.

“When receiving my Parkinson’s disease diagnosis, I asked the general neurologist how to educate myself on PD, and what I should be doing. The response: ‘Go Google it’,” says Mary Roney (B’76), who lives near Colorado Springs, Colorado. She eventually found a specialist 70 miles away in Denver. “I am grateful to have found medical support and feel strongly that all Parkinson patients have access to a movement disorder specialist.”

Roney recently gave a significant gift to Georgetown’s Fund a Fellow program.

mary roney

The program, which began in 2013 with support from Rick Schena and Janis Buchanan, provides funding to train early-career neurologists as movement disorders specialists. After a two-year fellowship focused on movement and memory disorders and conducting clinical trials, they are able to better diagnose patients and provide access to the latest treatments available.

The result is better access to care and quality of life for patients nationwide.

A map of the United States
Where are they now? Past fellows are serving patients in communities throughout the United States. The Movement and Memory Disorders Program is one of only 31 U.S. “Centers for Excellence,” as designed by the Parkinson’s Foundation.

“Movement disorders manifest differently in each individual, requiring a specialist to provide an accurate diagnosis and knowledge of the newest treatments,” explains Fernando Pagan, director of the Movement Disorders Program at Med-Star Georgetown University Hospital and medical director of Georgetown University Medical Center’s Translational Neurotherapeutics Program. “Education, research, and clinical care improve yearly if we continue training young neurologists.”

“We use the cura personalis approach to holistically address more than the movements; we want to improve the overall well- being of each individual that we have the honor to care for.”

— Yasar Torres-Yaghi, M.D. Fund a Fellow program graduate, assistant professor of neurology at the School of Medicine, current director for the Parkinsonism and Dementia Clinic at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

The unique program is funded entirely by philanthropy, 100% of which directly supports the fellows. In the past decade, contributions from more than 1400 donors totaling nearly $2.9 million have allowed Georgetown faculty to train 22 movement and memory disorder specialists, twice the number that would have been trained otherwise.

“Georgetown’s Fund a Fellow program has already added significantly to the number of much needed specialists in this field,” add recent donors Robert and Jane Loeffler. “Our gift honors Dr. Pagan’s research, and furthers all efforts to enhance patient care.”

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