Study aims to understand genetics of Parkinson’s disease in Black people 

Erin Foster, an associate professor of occupational therapy, and Scott Norris, MD, an associate professor of neurology, have established a site at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis for the Black and African American Connections to Parkinson’s Disease (BLAAC PD) study, an international study aimed at understanding the gene changes that may lead to Parkinson’s disease in people with African ancestry. Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by slow and unsteady movement. Foster and Norris are collecting clinical and behavioral data from people with Parkinson’s and healthy people who identify as Black or African American in the St. Louis area. 

By joining the study, Washington University also joins the Parkinson’s Genetics Program, a global initiative geared at promoting a more comprehensive view of Parkinson’s disease by collecting genetic data from 150,000 people representing diverse populations around the world. Parkinson’s is a debilitating disease that affects people of all backgrounds, but it has historically been understudied in many populations, including Black, Latino, Asian, Native American, LGBTQ+, those in lower socioeconomic groups and people living in underserved geographies (rural and urban).