11 landmark moments in the history of Parkinson’s disease
From the first experiments with levodopa more than 50 years ago to the revolutionary development of deep brain stimulation, the history of Parkinson’s disease stretches back more than two centuries. This timeline charts some of the landmark moments, since initial discovery until today’s advances, that together make up the 200-year history of Parkinson’s disease.
1755: Birth of Dr James Parkinson
Dr James Parkinson, whose birthday on 11 April is commemorated annually as World Parkinson’s Day, was a well-respected surgeon, apothecary and political activist. Dr Parkinson wrote a great deal on social reform, geology and medicines and is considered to have been a visionary in each field. Parkinson’s greatest legacy, however, was his discovery and subsequent essay on ‘the shaking palsy’, a condition that would be named after the surgeon.
Parkinson’s essay is still viewed as a detailed, accurate and knowledgeable description of the illness, despite it being the first of its kind. In 1817, when Dr Parkinson first recognised the condition, there had been no previous research on the subject. Parkinson’s essay laid the groundwork for those who built on his research over the course of the next two centuries.
Dr James Parkinson’s commemorative plaque in London, UK