Inequities in Parkinson’s Research

With Jonathan Jackson, PhD and Nabila Dahodwala, MD

Nabila and Jonathan

When it comes to advancements in the care and treatment of Parkinson’s, research is a key component to inform and influence the way therapies are trusted, adopted, prescribed, and followed. But what happens when access to participation in research and even the design of investigations neglects to consider a diverse audience?

In this conversation between Jonathan Jackson, PhD, and Nabila Dahodwala, MD, we explored:

  • Why diverse participation in research matters
  • What researchers get wrong about designing and recruiting for diverse participation
  • What leaders in health disparities and Parkinson’s research are focusing on right now
  • What role research can play when it comes to changing equity and access to Parkinson’s care


Jonathan Jackson, PhD

Jonathan Jackson, PhD, is the Executive Director of the Community Access, Recruitment, and Engagement (CARE) Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. CARE investigates the impact of diversity and inclusion on the quality of human subjects research and leverages deep community entrenchment to build trust and overcome barriers to clinical trial participation. His research focuses on midlife and late-life health disparities in clinical settings that affect underserved populations. Dr. Jackson also works as a cognitive neuroscientist, investigating the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease, particularly in the absence of overt memory problems. He has become a well-known representative to underserved communities and dozens of affiliated organizations, particularly regarding participation in clinical research. Dr. Jackson serves on the leadership team of several organizations focused on community health, and has written guidance for local, statewide, and national groups on research access, engagement, and recruitment.

Nabila Dahodwala, MD, MS

Nabila Dahodwala, MD, MS is an Associate Professor of Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also a Senior fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, Institute of Aging fellow and Director of the Parkinson Foundation Center of Excellence at Penn. Dr. Dahodwala’s research interests involve access to care; disease prevention and health promotion; disparities and health equity; and global health and risk communication. She leads a number of projects that study patient, physician and health system-level barriers to high-quality care for individuals with neurodegenerative diseases. She has received research funding from the NIH, VA, Michael J Fox Foundation, Parkinson Foundation and the Parkinson Council. She is also the site investigator for numerous industry-sponsored clinical trials testing new therapeutics for Parkinson’s disease and Essential Tremor. She serves as the chair of the American Neurological Association’s Health Services Research Special Interest Group, and is a member of the International Parkinson and Movement Disorders Society’s Integrated Care Taskforce, the Parkinson Foundation Parkinson Outcomes Project Steering Committee and the Michael J Fox Foundation’s Fox Insight Executive Steering Committee. In addition to her research and clinical activities, Dr. Dahodwala is the Movement Disorders Fellowship Director at the University of Pennsylvania and directs the Patient-Oriented Research Curriculum for the neurology residents.