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Are you interested in applying to a Parkinson's Advocates in Research (PAIR) training, but have some questions about the program? We've collected answers to the questions most frequently asked by our prospective Parkinson's Foundation Research Advocates.

Contact the Parkinson's Foundation Helpline at 1-800-4PD-INFO (473-4636) or if you have questions not answered below.


Q. Who is eligible to apply as a Parkinson's Foundation Research Advocate?
Applications are open to people with Parkinson's and caregivers who live in the United States or Puerto Rico. Applicants may apply individually or as a team comprised of a person with Parkinson's and a caregiver.

Q. What does the Parkinson's Foundation look for in potential Research Advocates?
We look for applicants from a range of professional backgrounds who have a common interest in moving Parkinson's research forward. Most Research Advocates have taken part in at least one clinical study and have shown a prior interest in research advocacy. Although not required, preference goes to applicants who already have a relationship with a researcher or study coordinator. However, the Parkinson's Foundation aims to include diverse perspectives and backgrounds in the PAIR program. If you are interested, but are unsure if you might be a good fit, please contact Megan Feeney, community engagement manager, at

Q. Do applicants need a medical or scientific background?
No. We accept applicants with and without medical or scientific backgrounds.

Application Process

Q. What should I prepare for before applying to the Parkinson's Foundation Learning Institute?
The application typically asks for:

  • Answers to a few short essay questions about clinical research involvement, reasons for wanting to attend the Learning Institute and your initial thoughts about your future role as a Parkinson's Foundation Research Advocate.
  • Your resume, or, if unavailable, a brief listing of your relevant positions and employers, volunteer experience and educational history.
  • Reference(s), preferably someone who can comment on your clinical research interest and experience, such as a researcher or study coordinator. Your reference may also be an employer, physician or leader in the Parkinson's community.

Q. Will the foundation cover any Learning Institute expenses?
The Parkinson's Foundation covers all expenses (registration, travel, hotel, accommodation, meals, etc.) for those selected to attend the Parkinson's Advocates in Research Learning Institute.

Learning Institute

Q. What type of courses does the Learning Institute teach?
At the Learning Institute, attendees learn how they can play a role at every level in Parkinson's research. Typical courses include, "Making a Difference in the Research Process," "Ethical Issues in Research," "Evaluating Research with a Community Perspective," "Understanding Informed Consent," and "Setting Parkinson's Research Priorities."

Q. Who teaches courses at the Learning Institute?
Researchers and clinical study coordinators in the PD field, current Parkinson's Foundation Research Advocates and staff members lead Learning Institute courses. In the past, faculty members have come from leading institutions such as the National Institutes of Health and academic research centers.

Q. Can I read reviews from other Research Advocates?
Parkinson's Foundation Research Advocates have shared testimonials here.

Serving as a Parkinson's Foundation Research Advocate

Q. What do Parkinson's Foundation Research Advocates do?
Parkinson's Foundation Research Advocates take on volunteer roles that help speed drug development, increase clinical trial participation and inform the Parkinson's community about research. They play roles in every step of the research process, including helping to set research priorities, serving on study steering committees, providing input on study design and recruiting study participants.

Q. What commitment is involved in becoming a Parkinson's Foundation Research Advocate?
Parkinson's Foundation Research Advocates make an initial two-year commitment, which is renewable. Parkinson's Foundation Research Advocates represent the Parkinson's Foundation and the Parkinson's Advocates in Research program at conferences and events, media opportunities and in all advocacy activities. They spend a minimum of three hours per month on related activities, take part in monthly one-hour calls and report on their activities through an online monthly advocacy report.

Q. After attending the Learning Institute, will Parkinson's Foundation Research Advocates receive ongoing support from the Parkinson's Foundation?
Yes. Completing the PAIR Learning Institute is just the beginning. Parkinson's Foundation staff work with Research Advocates to offer ongoing one-on-one support, including help to make connections with research professionals and fostering projects between Research Advocates and researchers. The Parkinson's Foundation facilitates several Research Advocate working groups which each address key research issues. We also hold monthly conference calls on a variety of research-related topics, ranging from updates on specific clinical studies to innovative ideas for Parkinson's Foundation Research Advocate activities.

Q. What if I'm not ready to make the commitment to become a Research Advocate but I'm interested learning more?
We invite you to take part in the Parkinson's Advocates in Research online course, coming in 2018, where you will learn more about clinical research and research advocacy.

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