Father Tom Hartman and Dr. James Watson Announce Partnership to Find a Cure for Parkinson’s Disease

$4.4 Million Pledge to Fund Research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

The Thomas Hartman Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory announced today a partnership to work together to find a cure for Parkinson’s disease. A pledge of $4.4 million over five years from the Foundation will enable the new Thomas Hartman Parkinson’s Research Laboratory at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to focus on three core areas of Parkinson’s research: genes, cells and circuits. Monsignor Thomas Hartman, known by many as Father Tom, hosted a celebration of the partnership, Monday, October 25, 5:00 PM at the Garden City Hotel, Garden City, NY.

“The goal of this partnership is nothing less than a cure for Parkinson’s,” said Dr. James Watson, Nobel Laureate and Chancellor, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. “Although we cannot know how soon we will eradicate this devastating disease, it is certain that increased research is the only way to hasten the discovery of a cure and find therapies that can halt the disease’s progression.”

In June 2004, the first annual Thomas Hartman Foundation “Cure for Sure” Dinner raised close to $2 million to benefit Parkinson’s research.

“The Thomas Hartman Foundation for Parkinson’s Research was established to raise funds to find a cure for Parkinson’s disease,” said Father Tom. “The process of curing Parkinson’s will take time, effort, scientists and God’s Grace.”

The Foundation seeks to provide grants for the newest and most innovative scientific projects which offer the best hope for the advancement and development of a cure. It is for this reason that the Foundation decided to provide funds for Parkinson’s research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. According to Hartman, “ None of he funding will be used for reserch involving stem cells derived from embryos. The Catholic Church is opposed to use of such cells because an embryo is destroyed in the process. Stem cells taken from adult bone marrow may hold potential,” he continued , “and part of the reserch is exploring their value.”

Under the leadership of Nobel Laureate Dr. James Watson and President and CEO Dr. Bruce Stillman, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is committed to a vision for translating its world-renowned biological research into improvements in health and life. Working in concert with The Thomas Hartman Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, the Laboratory proposed a five-year program to tackle the neurological condition known as Parkinson’s disease.

According to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory President and CEO Dr. Bruce Stillman: “We are at an exciting moment in the scientific understanding of the brain and in Parkinson’s research. Over the last decade many of the building blocks for understanding the biological underpinnngs of neurological disorders have come into place. We have never been as close to a major breakthrough as now, and with the necessary funding, we believe major advances can be achieved in the next five years.”

The Laboratory has assembled a team of researchers who will target Parkinson’s disease from three complementary angles. In this way, the Foundation’s investment in this partnership will be diversified over the three core areas of Parkinson’s research: genes, cells and circuits. Although scientists are located in different buildings, the Thomas Hartman Parkinson’s Research Laboratory will reside within the Beckman neuroscience center.

Dr. Jonathan Sebat and Dr. Nick Tonks will focus on identifying novel genes involved in Parkinson’s disease while Dr. Grigori Enikolopov’s group has created tools for visualizing neural progenitors, the brain’s store of reserve cells capable of becoming new neurons. They will adapt these tools in order to visualize dopamine cells specifically, thereby allowing them to screen for drugs that turn on brain repair mechanisms. Focusing on the third core area – circuits - Dr. Zachary Mainen plans to record the activity of single neurons in the affected brain region, known as the basal ganglia, to understand the basic mechanisms of the disease process.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, one of the leading neuroscience research facilities worldwide, has pursued sophisticated neuroscience since the late 1980s. By using powerful two-photon laser scanning microscopy and other technologies they are pioneering, neuroscientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory are revealing the secrets of how our brains develop and change, form and recall memories, respond to inputs from the outside world, and ultimately enable us to be who we are. Using these successes as a springboard for future discovery, researchers at Cold Spring Harbor are today combining the intricacies of brain biology with mathematics, physics, and theoretical science to understand the function and vulnerabilities of the human brain. Such an understanding is the basis for the eventual development of drugs and other therapeutic measures for progress against several ailments, including Parkinson's.

For more information or to make a donation, please contact: The Thomas Hartman Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, 70 West Main Street, Suite 2, East Islip, New York 11730, ph. 631-277-9655, or visit www.hartmanfoundation.org.

About the Thomas Hartman Foundation - Finding the cure:
The Foundation seeks to provide grants for the newest and most innovative scientific projects which offer the best hope for the advancement and development of a cure. Scientists believe that, with proper research funding, a cure for Parkinson’s can be found within ten years-a time frame affirmed by top officials of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in testimony before Congress. Advances in Parkinson’s will contribute to the understanding of other devastating neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, ALS and multiple sclerosis. The Thomas Hartman Foundation is dedicated to the single purpose of finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease and will solicit donors and fund scientists with bonafide ideas and research institutions that need funding.

About CSHL: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is a private, non-profit basic research institution. Under the leadership of Dr. Bruce Stillman, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society (London), more than 330 scientists at the Laboratory conduct groundbreaking research in cancer, neurobiology, plant genetics, and bioinformatics. For additional information, call (516) 367-8455, or visit the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory website at www.cshl.edu.

About Father Tom: Father Tom is the Director of Radio and Television for the Diocese of Rockville Centre. His popular television show, “God Squad,” is co-hosted by Rabbi Marc Gellman. They frequently provide commentaries on MSNBC, FOX News, CNN and the nationally syndicated “Imus in the Morning” radio show. Father Tom also hosts his own numerous productions for Telecare and various specials. As an author, Father Tom has written Just A Moment – Life Matters with Father Tom, and The Matter of Life and Death. He has co-authored four books with Rabbi Gellman for both children and adults. Their most recent book is titled, Religion for Dummies. Father Tom has been recognized for both his professional and pastoral work by winning four Emmy Awards, a Folio Award and numerous “Man of the Year” citations and honorary doctorates.