SCSD’s MacPherson awarded $10,000 for Parkinson Disease Research


The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is a national association for Communication Science and Disorders, boasting 173,000+ members and affiliates across the country. The Association’s high standards and outstanding contributions make it’s recognition a high honor. Megan MacPherson, an Assistant Professor in the School of Communication Science and Disorders, is no stranger to ASHA recognition. Earlier this year, MacPherson was recognized with an Editors’ Award for an article in the Speech Section of the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. This award is given to an article that meets the highest standards in research design, presentation, and impact.

Her most recent recognition is from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation (ASHFoundation), an extension of ASHA,  for her work in Parkinson disease. The proposal, “Role of the Autonomic Nervous System in the Speech Production of Individuals with Parkinson disease” sought to gain more understanding of the disease. “In order to provide the best clinical services to individuals, we must have a comprehensive understanding of the factors that contribute to the disorder,” wrote MacPherson. “However,” she continued, “research to date has not addressed the impact of a significant pathophysiologic component of Parkinson disease on speech production.”

More than 90% of the 1.5 million individuals affected with Parkinson’s disease (PD) have disordered communication (roughly 1.35 million Americans). The goal of MacPherson’s project is to determine the effect of PD on speech-related autonomic arousal and examine the relationship between autonomic arousal and kinematic characteristics of speech. “The knowledge gained about this potentially crucial factor in disordered speech production that influences treatment will set the course for future intervention research in the growing number of patients with Parkinson disease,” said MacPherson in her proposal to the ASHFoundation.

The ASHFoundation agreed, awarding the $10,000 2014 New Investigators Research Grant. “It is an honor to receive this support and recognition from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation. This grant and the project it supports will help to advance a line of research in which the ultimate goals are to improve communication outcomes and quality of life for individuals with Parkinson disease,” shared MacPherson. “Thus, the impact of this funding will reach far beyond this study.  I am grateful for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation’s commitment to research and the opportunity it has provided with this grant.”

MacPherson will be recognized at the ASHA Convention this November in Orlando.