Dr. Zoltan Mari Directs Parkinson’s Disease Research, Education and Care at Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health
Each year, approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a nervous system disease, which causes progressively worsening impairments in movement and thinking. While there is currently no cure for this disease, significant research advances are being made and treatment options continue to improve. On the frontlines of discovery and improving life for individuals living with Parkinson’s disease is Zoltan Mari, M.D., FAAN, who serves as Director of the Nevada Parkinson’s & Movement Disorders Program at Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.
A world-renowned movement disorders neurologist, clinical scientist, and educator, Dr. Mari has been a driving force behind innovation in Parkinson’s disease patient care, education and research since joining the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in 2017.
Under Dr. Mari’s leadership, the Nevada Parkinson’s Disease & Movement Disorders program at the center offers patients a multidisciplinary approach to care, with team members including neurologists, physical and occupational therapists, and neuropsychologists and social workers, all collaborating to develop individualized management and treatment plans designed to enhance the patients’ function and quality of life.
The Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health has celebrated numerous achievements in recognition of its work in Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders, including being named a Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence – the first and only in the state of Nevada. This sought-after designation identifies hospitals and academic medical centers with specialized teams who are at the leading edge of the latest medications, therapies, and innovations in Parkinson’s disease. Furthermore, the center has also been named one of the first five CurePSP Centers of Care in the United States in acknowledgement of the services and care offered to patients diagnosed with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy or Corticobasal degeneration. Finally, the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health received the designation of Research Center of Excellence from the Lewy Body Dementia Association. Dr. Mari is the director of these three centers, which are dedicated to excellence in research and care in the area of Parkinson’s disease and other related disorders.
Complementing excellence in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease is the center’s efforts in pushing science forward through research. There are currently no disease-modifying therapies available that can slow down or prevent the progression in Parkinson’s disease, but Dr. Mari and his team are working to change this through research efforts focused on biomarker discovery.
“Biomarkers serve as indicators of disease and can help us not only better study Parkinson’s, but further monitor the progress and stages of the disease, predict what to expect in the future, and assist in determining if a treatment is effective.
Biomarker discovery is a critical area of need in Parkinson’s research that will help fill the gaps in our knowledge of the disease. Over the last several years we have built up our research portfolio around biomarkers in pursuit of a disease-modifying therapy,” Dr. Mari says.
At the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, several research projects funded by the National Institutes of Health, which aim to facilitate the discovery, identification, and validations of Parkinson’s disease biomarkers, are underway, especially in relation to cognitive manifestations associated with the disease.
“We have the opportunity to apply a novel approach to the study of Parkinson’s disease including the assessment of a range of clinical, imaging, and biological features of the disease in an advanced analysis process based on artificial intelligence,” Dr. Mari says. “Using our findings from these research projects, we hope to improve our knowledge of this disease and discover treatments that will effectively slow the progression of it.”
In addition to its leading efforts in research and treatment, the Nevada Parkinson’s Disease & Movement Disorders Program stands alone in the comprehensive support, education, and therapeutic programing it offers to both patients and their caregivers. Designed to inform, enlighten, and empower patients and their families as they navigate the challenges of living with Parkinson’s disease, these programs span support groups, yoga, a bi-monthly Parkinson’s-focused education series, and music and art therapy, among others. Another major accomplishment in the Parkinson’s and movement disorder educational front is the first-in-Nevada movement disorder clinical fellowship, which will begin in 2022 with Dr. Mari’s role as fellowship director.
Throughout his career, Dr. Mari has celebrated numerous academic accomplishments, including publishing over 110 peer-reviewed papers, authoring multiple book chapters, and founding and directing dozens of nationally recognized Continuing Medical Education (CME) programs. Furthermore, he serves as associate editor of the Parkinsonism and Related Disorders Journal, co-chair of the Motor Working Group of the Parkinson Study Group, and chair of the Movement Disorder Society’s Telemedicine Study Group.
To learn more about Dr. Mari, the Nevada Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Program and the services and programming provided by Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Heath, visit ClevelandClinic.org/Nevada.