September 18, 2019
(As prepared for delivery)
Welcome to Villa Taverna to celebrate the work of the 7th Biennial Workshop on Dystonia and Parkinson’s Disease.
I want to thank the University of Rome-Tor Vergata, and Antonio Pisani of the Department of Systems Medicine, for organizing this event. Let me also recognize my dear friends Bonnie Strauss and Nancy Rackoff.
Your cause is close to my heart, and my wife, Judy. We have supported research into treatments for these ruinous diseases for many years. Your outstanding work gives us hope that new therapies, and eventually cures, will soon be discovered.
Dystonia and Parkinson’s know no barriers, and affect people of all ages, races, and genders. Each year, 60,000 new cases of Parkinson’s disease are diagnosed in the United States. Dystonia disease affects as many as 250,000 Americans and 20,000 Italians, but some think the number in Italy could be much higher.
Parkinson’s disease can attack people at the height of their abilities, and can wreak havoc on the most productive parts of their lives. While it normally affects people over the age of 50, it can affect younger patients, as well. It is often said that patients generally die WITH Parkinson’s disease, not from it. But coping with these diseases can be overwhelming, and complications kill thousands of people each year. The cruelest devastation is the continuing destruction of their quality of life.
Almost a hundred years ago, a renowned American physician, Charles H. Mayo, said, “The safest thing for a patient is to be in the hands of a person engaged in teaching medicine. In order to be a teacher of medicine, the doctor must always be a student.”
You are here because you are students of these horrible diseases. I commend you for your work, and hope you can learn from each other so our citizens can live long and healthy lives without the added hardships of these scourges.
I wish you the best in all future endeavors, and look forward to reports of new medical breakthroughs.
Thank you all for being here tonight. I’d now like to invite Dr. Pisani to give a few words.