The Center for Brain Health (CBH) at LSU Health Shreveport has received a $100,000 gift to create the Noel Foundation, Inc. Endowed Professorship Honoring Dr. Robert C. Leitz, III in Parkinson’s Disease Research. The gift represents the first endowed funding in support of the Center for Brain Health. It will expand the study of age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease (PD) and dementia and fund neurological training equipment for graduate and medical students studying at LSU Health Shreveport. One goal of the research is to determine how to make care available to the estimated 55,000 citizens in North Louisiana living with Parkinson’s disease.
The CBH was established to increase neuroscience-related education, improve and expand care for patients with brain disorders, and attract young specialists and pioneering clinical trials to North Louisiana. Through the endowment, the CBH will expand its team of researchers and clinician scientists with expertise in Parkinson’s disorder and increase competitiveness for federal research grants.
The endowed professorship honors the Noel Foundation’s former president, Dr. Robert C. Leitz III, who has courageously battled Parkinson’s disease for many years. Dr. Leitz is a Professor Emeritus of English at Louisiana State University in Shreveport and served the Noel Foundation for over 20 years. “The Noel Foundation is pleased to establish the first endowment at the Center for Brain Health and proud to honor Dr. Leitz,” said Merritt B. Chastain Jr., President of the Noel Foundation. “We hope that through this gift, others will also give to support Parkinson’s disease research at LSU Health Shreveport to help the many victims of the disease.”
The Noel Foundation has long supported LSU Health Shreveport, giving to many initiatives, including medical student scholarships, the Center for Medical Education, and educational opportunities at the School of Allied Health Professions.
The Noel Foundation’s endowment has been awarded to Elizabeth Disbrow, PhD, Professor of Neurology and Director of the Center for Brain Health. Dr. Disbrow has been at LSU Health Shreveport for nine years and, in that time, has led the effort to establish the CBH and “The Bridge,” a community resource for patients and families struggling with dementia. Her work in Parkinson’s disease helped identify cognitive deficits in motor planning and cognitive flexibility as major contributors to the symptoms of the disease, over and above the traditional definition of Parkinson’s as a motor disorder.
“This generous endowment honoring Dr. Leitz and the Parkinson’s disease community is so inspiring. I want to thank the Noel Foundation for their support. We will continue to work to improve the lives of people fighting this disease until we find a cure,” said Dr. Disbrow.