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Irene Richard, M.D.

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Neurologist Irene Richard is an expert on Parkinson’s disease. She sees patients regularly, does research in the area of mood disturbances like depression and Parkinson’s disease, and serves as a scientific advisor to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, advising that organization’s efforts to stop the disease.

Richard notes that about half of patients with Parkinson’s disease have depression, and that depression is not simply a result of patients feeling “down” about their illness. Rather, the disease actually causes depression in patients. The presence of depression is the most important factor affecting the quality of life for people with the disease. She recently published the largest study to date investigating effective ways to treat depression in patients with Parkinson’s disease and found that today’s anti-depressant medications ease depression without worsening patients’ other symptoms.

Richard is taking part in a major national research study to track the progression of Parkinson’s disease in a precise way that is impossible to do today. She is also actively involved in the treatment of some Parkinson’s patients with deep-brain stimulation. The treatment, used mainly in patients who haven’t found relief using the broad array of medications now available, is designed to block aberrant brain signaling at the root of movement difficulties in Parkinson’s patients.