Oct 27, 2013 | Michael S. Okun, MD, is Administrative Director and Co-director of the Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration that is part of the Center for Translational Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases, the McKnight Brain Institute, and the University of Florida College of Medicine. The center is unique in that it is comprised of over 45 interdisciplinary faculty members from diverse areas of campus, all of whom are dedicated to care, outreach, education and research. Since his appointment as the National Medical Director for the National Parkinson Foundation in 2006, he has worked with the 43 international NPF centers of excellence to help foster the best possible environments for care, research and outreach in Parkinson disease, dystonia, Tourette, and movement disorders.
Dr. Okun has been supported by grants from the National Parkinson Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Parkinson Alliance, and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Disease Research, and he currently runs the online international “Ask The Expert” forums, on the National Parkinson Foundation website. The forum is a free service that answers questions from every continent (except Antarctica) and has over 10,000 postings in the last 3 years.
These accomplishments are more than enough for any doctor’s career, but there is a lot more to Dr. Okun.
1. PD people may not realize that in addition to his work developing care centers for people suffering with movement disorders, he also has a prolific research career exploring non-motor basal ganglia brain features and he has participated in pioneering studies exploring the cognitive, behavioral, and mood effects of deep brain stimulation (DBS).
If you are thinking of having DBS, his online research, Am I a Candidate for DBS including What are the Ten Question I Need to Ask about DBS? written with University of Florida Physician Kelly D. Foote, M.D. are must reads. You will not find a more comprehensive, and all-encompassing body of research on DBS. His introductory video, Introduction to Deep Brain Stimulation will give you an overview of the surgery, but be sure to read the whole presentation as well.
2. Whatever he does, he does it the best. So when he recently wrote, Parkinson’s Treatment: 10 Secrets for a Happier Life, it had to be wonderful. This book is a critical resource for Parkinson’s disease patients and families from around the world. The book addresses current Parkinson’s disease issues and also details emerging therapies (DBS, stem cells, vaccines, gene therapy, optogenetics).
3. Although he has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles, you might not know about his published book of poetry, Lessons From the Bedside, 1995. The book chronicles four years of medical school experiences and tells the real story of not only what medical school is really like, but also tells us how disease affects everyone who comes close to it. Prose and poems in the book were transcribed by Dr. Okun onto napkins, progress notes, and patient order sheets as the author experienced the emotions that inspired the words. He tucked his writings into his lab coat pockets and later removed them to compile the book.
Internationally renowned as both a neurologist and a leading researcher, Dr. Okun has been referred to as, “the voice of the Parkinson’s disease patient,” but for Parkinson’s Women Support, he also remains an admirable doctor full of discovery.