Felicia Axelrod: 2018 Awardee

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Felicia Axelrod: 2018 Awardee

 

Awardee: Jose-Alberto Palma, Md, Phd


Jose-Alberto Palma, Md, Phd was the inaugural recipient of the Felicia Axelrod Investigator Award. Dr. Palma is Assistant Professor of Neurology at the New York University School of Medicine and Assistant Director of the New York University Dysautonomia Center. Dr. Palma has been involved in autonomic research since 2013 when he became an Autonomic Disorders fellow at NYU. Dr. Palma’s research interests are devoted to improving the diagnosis and treatment of genetic and neurodegenerative disorders characterized by autonomic dysfunction. Dr. Palma is investigator of the NIH-funded Natural History Study of the Synucleinopathies, an international collaboration whose goal is to describe the prodromal autonomic phenotype and evolution of patients with multiple system atrophy, Parkinson’s disease and other autonomic synucleinopathies. This large study is crucial to define outcome measures that can be used in clinical trials of neuroprotective drugs, now in the pipeline. Dr. Palma’s research interests also include the description of the genotype and phenotype of patients with hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathies (HSAN), with particular emphasis on familial dysautonomia (FD), a devastating disease to which Dr. Felicia Axelrod dedicated all her professional life. The Dysautonomia Foundation, a well-organized patient advocacy group founded by patients’ parents, has generously funded Dr. Palma’s research on FD. After part of this research identified that untreated sleep-disordered breathing is a risk factor of sudden death in patients with FD, implementation of nocturnal noninvasive ventilation is now virtually universal in these patients. Such developments, along with potential disease-modifying therapies in the pipeline to be tested in forthcoming clinical trials, will be key to reduce mortality.