Gift will benefit Waisman Center research on Parkinson’s disease

Patricia Mitchell, Waisman Communications

A gift of $500,000 from George E. Prescott, a member of the Waisman Center’s board of visitors, will benefit the Parkinson’s disease research program at the Waisman Center. Former owner and CEO of Prescott’s Supermarkets, Inc., Prescott is an ardent advocate of stem cell research and made the gift in order to further the center’s investigation of stem cell biology, which in turn is expected to have great potential for treating Parkinson’s disease, as well as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and other diseases, according to Waisman Center director Marsha M. Seltzer.

“We are making great strides in exploring the potential of stem cells, and gifts like George Prescott’s are vital for the stability and advancement of this research,” says Seltzer. Prescott believes that state and federal legislators, as well as the general public, are becoming more informed about embryonic stem cells and coming to a better understanding and acceptance of this research. “We hope his extraordinary generosity will inspire others to lend their support for this cutting-edge research that has the possibility of significantly improving people’s lives.”

The Waisman Center’s stem cell research program is housed in a tower addition completed in 2001. Led by Clive Svendsen, Ph.D. and Su-Chun Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., both of the UW Departments of Anatomy and Neurology, the stem cell research involves multiple studies concerning Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, as well as developmental disabilities.

“Svendsen and Zhang have already done ground-breaking work in stem cell research and have received international acclaim for their efforts,” says Seltzer. “We are fortunate to have their research as part of our broad-based studies into human development, developmental disabilities, and neurodegenerative diseases.” The center is home to 60 research laboratories and also houses a brain imaging center and a clinical bio-manufacturing facility, according to Seltzer.

The announcement of Prescott’s support was made at the spring meeting of the center’s board of visitors, held in May. In attendance was State Senator Mary Panzer, who was on hand to celebrate the announcement of the gift. She has been highly supportive of research seeking to find a treatment or cure for Parkinson’s disease and is a great friend of the Waisman Center and the UW-Madison.