The 2019 World Parkinson Congress in Kyoto, Japan

“Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and diligence.” Abigail Adams

“Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.” Christian D. Larson

Introduction to the 5th World Parkinson Congress (WPC) in Kyoto, Japan from June 4-7, 2019: Presentations by Scientists, Graduate Students, Postdoctoral Fellows, Physicians, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, many other Healthcare Experts, and People-with-Parkinson’s.

Every three years, the World Parkinson Coalition organizes the WPC. My first WPC was three years ago in Portland, OR, and that was the 4th WPC. Several thousand people convened in Kyoto, Japan, for the 5th WPC. On the cover of the Program was the following notation, “Bringing the Parkinson’s Community Together.” Whether you attended 1 or 20 oral sessions/poster sessions, you were bound to learn something new about Parkinson’s.

“Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.” Marian Wright Edelman

Why should you consider attending a meeting like the World Parkinson Congress (WPC)?: There are a lot of reasons to attend an international meeting like the WPC. As a scientist, the historical reasons for me were always:
(a) to disseminate the lab group’s most current research data;
(b) to see what new advances are being made by others in this research field/clinical arena;
(c) to network;
(d) be inspired and occasionally be intimidated, because you’d meet with potential collaborators, and yes, you’d always run into the ‘competition’ and sometimes they could be intimidating yet sometimes they’d join forces to help both lab groups; and
(e) as my mentor said during my training, “To be seen, Frank, you need to go to these scientific/clinical meetings to present your best data, to present your latest/most significant findings, and yes, to be seen.

As someone today living with Parkinson’s, I add the following:
(f) to hear, to meet, to talk with the leaders in the field of Parkinson’s science;
(g) to meet other PwP and work to bring us together and be better about our understanding of Parkinson’s; and
(h) you are never too old to learn something new, especially when it comes to Parkinson’s.

The WPC adds a different dimension to their Congress. They encourage and want people-with-Parkinson’s (PwP) to not only attend the meeting but also to present an abstract to be presented at the meeting. This idea of encouraging PwP to participate in a meeting devoted to their disorder is very novel, really a fantastic concept.

If I was someone in training (graduate student, medical student, postdoctoral fellow, or medical resident) and I had the opportunity to interact with someone with Parkinson’s, it would so very positivity affect my trajectory in the study of Parkinson’s. Having PwP in all aspects of the WPC is novel and fuels the passion of everyone involved in the field. It is uncommon to give a talk or present a poster and have someone with that disease/disorder be the first person to the microphone (oral presentation) or be in the group discussing your poster — such a powerful result.

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” Helen Keller

My Role(s) Before and During the 4th and 5th World Parkinson Congress: The success of these types of meetings requires a reliable staff (led by Eli Pollard, the WPC staff is outstanding!) and many volunteer functions that expect time/effort for no pay. Such is the world of education and academics; you work because you believe in the cause, that’s what you end up doing.

The 4th World Parkinson Congress (Portland, Oregon, USA)
•I was a member of the Communications Committee.

•Furthermore, I was the co-Editor of the Daily Parkinson eNewspaper for the WPC.

•And I presented the poster entitled: “Imagine yourself then, imagine yourself now with Parkinson’s disease.”

The 5th World Parkinson Congress (Kyoto, Japan)
•I was a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee. My primary goal was to read and prioritize scientific abstracts submitted to the WPC for presentation.

•My WPC duties included being a Panelist for the 1st Daily Wrap-Up Panel. What an honor for me to share the stage with an amazing group of Physicians and experts in the clinical arena of Parkinson’s (including Michele Tagliati, Jennifer Goldman, M. Angela Cenci Nilsson, Paolo Calabresi, and Nobutaka Hattori) it was a a lot of fun!

•I participated in the Round Table entitled “Planet Patient vs Planet Research: How do we align intsead of collide” and hosted by A.C. Woolnough and Simon Stott.

•Furthermore, I was co-Chair, along with Marie-Francoise Chesselet, for the oral parallel session entitled “The microbiome and diet in Parkinson’s disease” session. The speakers were Viviane Labrie, Pascal Derkinderen, and Laurie Mischley. Great topics presented by each scientist, and the audience immediately responded with seriously good questions, leaving very little for the co-Chairs to do (the best way for an oral session to go).

•And I presented the poster entitled “Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and over-the-counter therapies in Parkinson’s: A simple algorithm and inexpensive treatment plan.”

“The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.” B. B. King

Abstract/Introduction to “Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and over-the-counter therapies in Parkinson’s: A simple algorithm and inexpensive treatment plan “:
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive degenerative nervous system disorder and is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder in the elderly population. The disease originates from the loss of dopamine-producing neurons in the substantia nigra in the brain, resulting in unregulated activity of the basal ganglia. The etiology of PD is still evolving (see Figure below); however, there is substantial evidence supporting the detrimental effects of neuroinflammation, environmental toxins, numerous genetic factors, changes in the cellular microenvironment (oxidative stress), innate and possibly adaptive immune systems, and advanced aging.

My plan consists of (i) traditional Parkinson’s medication (Carbidopa/Levodopa and dopamine agonist); (ii) supplemented by a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approach, and (iii) fueled by exercise.

My philosophy is simple because I truly believe there are steps I can follow to remain as healthy as possible, which include having a positive mindset to support this effort, and to accept the axiom of the harder I try the better I’ll be.

My CAM and over-the-counter strategy is relatively straightforward and is based on the following scientific features: (1)Does it counteract one of the proposed causes of Parkinson’s as described above? (2)Does it augment one of the biological mechanisms that could contribute to slowing progression of Parkinson’s? (3)Does the compound penetrate the blood brain barrier? (4)Is there any published information in animal models or in human clinical trials? (5)Are the compounds easy to take orally and relatively inexpensive? 

Based on the 5 points above, my CAM strategy for treating my Parkinson’s consists of the following substances (please note that the list has been modified since submitting the abstract): mannitol, resveratrol, taurine, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), curcumin, vitamin B1, vitamin D3, ashwagandha, and a probiotic.  Also, daily exercise and adequate sleep are essential.

Abstract book of the 5th World Parkinson Congress, Kyoto, Japan, June 4–7, 2019 (to view abstracts click here)

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Xunzi

Examples of Presentations from my Laboratory Group During the past 40 years- a trip down memory lane: I was a 25-year-old graduate student when I presented my first presentation at a scientific research meeting, and now I’m a 66-year-old full Professor still giving information at international conferences. Since that first presentation, I’ve been part of ~180 such presentations (talks and posters) from my laboratory research group. Shown below is a sampling of poster presentations/oral presentations since my graduate school days in the mid-1970’s to the present time.

M.S. degree (Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA)-
“Isolation and characterization of α-galactosidase from Pichia guilliermondii.” Church, F.C., S.P. Meyers and V.R. Srinivasan. Society of Industrial Microbiologists, Pittsburgh, PA; August, 1979.

Ph.D. degree (North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC), 1 selected from a total of 5 presentations-
“A convenient and rapid o-phthalaldehyde spectrophotometric assay for measurement of proteolytic activity in milk and purified milk proteins.”  Church, F.C., H.E. Swaisgood and G.L. Catignani.  American Dairy Science Association, Madison, WI; June, 1983.  J. Dairy Sci. 66 (Suppl 1.): 97.
Comment: The full-length paper entitled, Church, F. C., Swaisgood, H. E., Porter, D. H., & Catignani, G. L. (1983). Spectrophotometric assay using o-phthaldialdehyde for determination of proteolysis in milk and isolated milk proteins. Journal of Dairy Science, 66(6), 1219-1227, has been cited 1264 times since publication, most recently as of last month.

Postdoctoral research associate (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC), 1 selected from a total of 6 presentations-
Chemical modification of human prothrombin with diethyl pyrocarbonate.” Church, F.C. and R.L. Lundblad.  American Society of Biological Chemists. St. Louis, MO; June, 1984.  Fed. Proc.43 (7): 1853.

Assistant Professor (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC), 3 selected from a total of 40 presentations-
“Identification of lysines in human thrombin essential for heparin and clotting activity.”  Meade, J.B., C.M. Noyes and F.C. ChurchXIth International Congress on Thrombosis and Haemostasis, July, 1987, Brussels, Belgium;  Thromb. Haemostas. 58: 265.
Comment: Wolfram Bode told me from this presentation and resultant paper, Church, F. C., Pratt, C. W., Noyes, C. M., Kalayanamit, T., Sherrill, G. B., Tobin, R. B., & Meade, J. B. (1989). Structural and functional properties of human alpha-thrombin, phosphopyridoxylated alpha-thrombin, and gamma T-thrombin. Identification of lysyl residues in alpha-thrombin that are critical for heparin and fibrin (ogen) interactions. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 264(31), 18419-18425, that we contributed the key information to locating anion-binding exosite-2 in thrombin.

Heparin cofactor II: Structure and function.”  Pratt, C.W. and F.C. ChurchStructure and Activities of Heparin and Related Polysaccharides, November, 1987, New York, NY;  New York Academy of Sciences meeting, Abstract #11 of the Proceedings.

“Leukocyte chemoattractant peptides from the serpin heparin cofactor II.” Church, F.C., C.W. Pratt and M.R. Hoffman.  American Society of Hematology, December, 1989, Atlanta, GA;  Blood74(Suppl. 1): 223a

Associate Professor (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC), 5 selected from a total of 47 presentations-
“Site-directed mutagenesis of the reactive center of recombinant protein C inhibitor.” Cooper, S.T., J.E. Phillips, E.E. Potter, and F.C. Church.  Keystone Symposium entitled “Structural and Molecular Biology of Protease Function and Inhibition” March, 1994, Santa Fe, NM.  J. Cell. Biochem.  Suppl 18D: 152 (Abstr. #S310).

Vascular localization of the heparin-binding serpins antithrombin, heparin cofactor II and protein C inhibitor”.  Cooper, S.T., L.L. Neese, M.N. DiCuccio, D.K. Liles, M. Hoffman and F.C. Church.  American Society of Hematology meeting, December, 1995, Seattle, WA.  Blood  86(10): Suppl. 1 p. 376a, #1493.

“Heparin cofactor II activity is stimulated by arterial smooth muscle cell heparan sulfate proteoglycans.”  R.A. Shirk, F.C. Churchand W.D. Wagner.  Presented at the Intern’l Symp. Chem. and Biol. Serpins, April, 1996, Chapel Hill, NC.

“Enhanced antithrombotic properties of heparin cofactor II through site-directed mutagenesis.” S.J. Bauman and F.C. Church.  Presented at Experimental Biology 98 Meeting, April, 1998, San Francisco, CA FASEB J.  12(5): Part II A954 (Abstr. #5528).
Comment: This presentation led to the lab’s second U.S. Patent No. 6,207,419 entitled “Thrombin Inhibitory Agents” was issued by the U.S. Patent Agency to Susie Bauman, Frank Church and UNC-CH (2001).

“Role of acidic residues in the second acidic domain of heparin cofactor II during inhibition of thrombin.” Wemhoff, J.L. and F.C. Church.  Presented at the American Society of Hematology, New Orleans, LA, December, 1999.

Professor (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC), 8 selected from a total of 80 presentations-
Expression of plasminogen activator inhibitor-type 1 (PAI-1) and 3 (PAI-3) increase cell adhesion and motility in MDA-MB-435 breast cancer cells.” Palmieri, D., Lee J.W., Juliano, R.L., and F.C. Church. Presented at the XVIIIth International Congress on Thrombosis and Haemostasis, July, 2001, Paris, France
Comment: The prdsentation led to the following paper, Palmieri, D., Lee, J. W., Juliano, R. L., & Church, F. C. (2002). Plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 and-3 increase cell adhesion and motility of MDA-MB-435 breast cancer cells. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 277(43), 40950-40957, initiated many of our studies in the field of breast cancer.

“Molecular mapping of the thrombin-heparin cofactor II complex. Fortenberry, Y.M., H.R. Gentry, T. Myles, L.L.K. Leung, and F.C. Church.  Presented at American Society of Hematology, Orlando, FL.  December, 2001

“Localization of heparin cofactor II in atherosclerotic lesions. “ Rau, J.C., D.B. Thomas and F.C. Church. Presented at Serpins 2005, 4th International Symposium on Serpins Structure, Function and Biology, Cairns, Australia, June 2005

Enhanced Cell-Associated Fibrinolytic Pathway but Not Coagulation Pathway Activity Contributes to Motility in Metastatic Breast Cancer Cells. “ J.C. Carter, R.A. Campbell, J.A. Gibbons, A.S. Wolberg, and F.C. Church.  Presented at the American Society of Hematology meeting, December, 2009, New Orleans, LA.
Comment: This work led to one of my favorite publications because it merged both fields of hemostasis-thrombosis-fibrinolysis and cancer biology together so nicely, Carter, J. C., Campbell, R. A., Gibbons, J. A., Gramling, M. W., Wolberg, A. S., & Church, F. C. (2010). Enhanced cell‐associated plasminogen activator pathway but not coagulation pathway activity contributes to motility in metastatic breast cancer cells. Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis, 8(6), 1323-1332.

” Role of p16INK4a in age-related venous thrombosis.” Cardenas, J.C., C.M. Rein-Smith, and F.C.  Church.  Presented at GRC Plasminogen Activation & Extracellular Proteolysis.  February 12-17, 2012, Ventura, CA.
Comment: The collective results from a previous presentation and this one got us from the test tube to the mouse to study thrombosis, and proudly we published the following paper describing how the senescence protein p16INK4a contributed to venous thrombosis in mice, Cardenas, J. C., Owens III, A. P., Krishnamurthy, J., Sharpless, N. E., Whinna, H. C., & Church, F. C. (2011). Overexpression of the cell cycle inhibitor p16INK4a promotes a prothrombotic phenotype following vascular injury in mice. Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology, 31(4), 827-833.

“Best practices from creating an integrated immunology block in the UNC school of medicine translational education at Carolina (TEC) curriculum.” Church, F.C., J.H. Foster, K.W. Smith, and T. Belhorn. Presented at 2015 SGEA Conference, April 23-26, 2015, Charlotte, NC.
Comment: We actually received an award for the Best Poster Presentation at the 2015 SGEA/AAMC Conference.

“Experiential Learning Fueled by K-12 Techniques in a Medical Education Classroom.” Smith, K.W. and F.C. Church. Transformation Workshop at Change MedEd 2015, October 1-3, 2015, Chicago, IL.

Med Ed Technology Toolbox: Free Tools to Increase Interactivity of Students.” Smith, K.W. and F.C. Church. SGEA Conference 2017, April 19-23, 2017, Charlottesville, VA

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” Marcus Aurelius

Recap to the 5th World Parkinson Congress (WPC) in Kyoto, Japan from June 4-7, 2019: I started writing this blog post in June, and just finished it. If you were expecting a review of the Congress itself, I must apologize because that was my initial intention. However, I got lost thinking and heading down memory lane for some of my lab group presentations, and nostalgia wins out. Many other reviews exist for the WPC, do a google search if interested.

One of the best parts of the WPC was getting a chance to briefly meet and talk with several of the many Parkinson’s activists and bloggers in attendance, including Simon Stott, Heather Kennedy, A.C. Woolnough, Sharon Krischer, and Martin Taylor. However, I was so jet-lagged out for much of the meeting, my time for these interactions just evaporated. I did not have adequate time with any of these incredible people, and I am so sorry. And there were others too, including Dave Shafer, Claire McLean, Valerie Carter, Ben Rossi, and Lisa Robert, that there was just not enough time in the day to be able to get together and visit adequately. I hope that when we reconvene in Barcelona, Spain, for the 6th World Parkinson Congress June 7-10, 2022, I will be committed to spending more time visiting with these awesome people and many more.

“I believe in intuition and inspiration. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.” Albert Einstein

Cover photo credit: https://blog.goway.com/globetrotting/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Gonaitei-Garden-in-Kyoto-Imperial-Palace-in-Kyoto-Japan-_635036768.jpg?x95206

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