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In Memoriam: MJFF Mourns Loss of Parkinson’s Research Leader Ira Shoulson

The Parkinson’s research community mourns the passing of Ira Shoulson, a visionary leader in the field. Shoulson played an integral role in establishing standards for multicenter clinical trials in movement disorders that advance new treatments. He dedicated much of his career to elevating the patient voice in research, bringing valuable perspectives into the scientific conversation around neurodegenerative diseases.  

Shoulson founded both the Parkinson’s Study Group and the Huntington Study Group, international consortia dedicated to advancing treatments for neurodegenerative disorders. His contributions were instrumental in identifying the gene responsible for Huntington’s disease as well as developing therapies for Parkinson’s and other neurological conditions. 

Shoulson received the Robert A. Pritzker Prize for Parkinson’s Research in 2016 for the way his attention to regulatory science helped build a foundation for patient-first evaluation and approval of new therapies. The Prize recognized him as a researcher who made exceptional contributions to Parkinson’s research while also mentoring the next generation of Parkinson’s scientists, a hallmark of Shoulson’s.  

“It is an honor to have gotten to learn from and collaborate with Dr. Shoulson,” said Katie Kopil, PhD, senior vice president of clinical research. “His imprint on clinical trial standards in Parkinson’s has shaped innovative treatments for patients today, and this legacy will be carried on by the countless clinician-scientists he mentored.”  

Katie added, “His innovative approaches to capturing and understanding the perspectives of people living with Parkinson’s will ensure future therapies are driven not just by what clinicians think is important, but rather, by the types of treatments patients want.” 

Shoulson was also an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. His contributions throughout the field continue to resonate. For example, his recent work on the Parkinson’s Disease Patient Report of Problems (PD-PROP) Curation study directly influenced research strategies, particularly in gait therapies.  

Ira Shoulson leaves behind a legacy of innovation and dedication that will continue to shape Parkinson’s research for years to come. His passing is a profound loss to the scientific community.  

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