Raul Martinez Fernandez, Neurologist and Clinical Researcher: The long and winding road to stop Parkinson’s disease.

Raul Martinez Fernandez, Neurologist and Clinical Researcher: The long and winding road to stop Parkinson’s disease.

An interview with Raul Martinez Fernandez, Neurologist and clinical researcher: The long and winding road to stop Parkinson’s disease on February 12, 2024 by George Ackerman, Ph.D, J.D.


After specializing in Neurology, my focus shifted to the Movement Disorders field. I conducted two clinical and research fellowships: a 6-month stint at the DBS department of the National Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery – Queen Square in London, followed by two years in Grenoble, France. Upon returning to Spain, I joined HM CINAC Hospital HM Puerta del Sur, under the guidance of Professor Obeso. Throughout these experiences, my research focused on motor and non-motor complications of Parkinson’s disease, as well as neuropsychiatric symptoms, and neurofunctional treatments such as DBS and MR-guided focused ultrasound.



Can you tell me more about your organization?


HM CINAC is a neuroresearch facility dedicated to studying and treating Movement Disorders. One of our key advantages is the horizontal and translational nature of our organization. Specialists across various disciplines including basic researchers, neuropsychologists, neurological nurses, and neurologists, collaborate seamlessly towards a common goal: halting Parkinson’s disease.



What is your passion and how did you get involved in Parkinson’s awareness and hope for a cure?


Well, I do have many passions! Some are related to my job and some are not. Speaking about my role as a neurologist, I became passionate about Parkinson’s Disease (PD) when I was pursuing my neurology diploma. To be honest, initially, it was because I found the physiopathology of PD and Movement Disorders fascinating. Subsequently, as I visited more and more patients, I realized that many individuals were suffering from the effects of the condition, and I wanted to help. Fortunately, in PD, unlike other neurological conditions, we have a lot of therapeutic options to improve our patients’ quality of life… and there are more upcoming!


What type of goals do individuals with Parkinson’s have when working with you?


Well, there are two major goals. First, to improve their quality of life at the present time. This includes maintaining their mood, their full independence, and allowing them to continue pursuing their life projects as they were prior to the diagnosis. And the second goal, of course, is to halt the progression of the condition.


What type of training and how long are the programs?


First, we attend to and follow up with patients in our clinics. I always make an effort to engage in extensive conversations with them and address all their questions. I believe that this type of communication and empathy has a genuine therapeutic effect and is essential for the well-being of the patients. Then, of course, I try to find the best therapy for each individual patient. Since we have different options available and every patient is unique, treatment must be tailored accordingly. In our center, we offer medication, physical therapy, non-invasive neuromodulative therapies, and interventional therapies such as DBS and Focused Ultrasound… fortunately, the array of options is wide!


What effect can it have on an individual with Parkinson’s?


In my opinion, the impact is enormous. While it’s true that we don’t have a specific “cure” and we can’t directly halt the process of neurodegeneration, the prognosis and quality of life for a PD patient today is vastly different from what it was 20 years ago. And it will likely be even better in 20 years from now. This progress is thanks to the increase in knowledge and the development of therapies.


What would you like to see as a future goal for your programs?


This is a very easy question to answer: STOP PD


What events do you participate in?


I participate in congresses within our field, engage in discussions with colleagues, and deliver presentations at patient associations, among other activities.


How does this also assist the caregivers?


Well, caregivers play a critical role in both the patient’s journey and their experience with the condition. It is crucial that they understand and empathize with the situation and the condition, and that they maintain close contact with the neurologist. The information provided by the caregiver is sometimes more important than what can be gleaned from a clinical examination. Additionally, caregivers must take care of themselves, as theirs is not an easy role.


How can someone get in touch?  What is your website?


Our website is : https://www.hmcinac.com; and the best way to contact us is by email to: consulta.hmcinac@hmhospitales.com


In your opinion what is the key to effective advocacy? 


The most important aspect is to possess formal knowledge about what you are advocating for. This knowledge must be scientifically accurate and based on scientific data. You cannot defend something without relying on scientific evidence. Additionally, in my opinion, other key factors include clear communication and empathy. The former ensures that your message is easily understood by your audience, while empathy helps you connect with them on a personal level and understand their perspectives and needs.


How can we better fundraise to support a cure for Parkinson’s?


I believe it’s crucial to raise awareness about the disease and emphasize the importance of investing in scientific research. Raising awareness among society about the importance of this is fundamental. It’s clear that societies that prioritize research receive greater government budgets for R&D. On the other hand, we have to define our goals and create a formal plan to reach the objectives. We must be efficient and not lose track or take blind steps.


What other activities do you undertake to help improve and support your daily living Eg exercise and alternative remedies?


Physical therapy is absolutely critical. Engaging in regular exercise and maintaining good health reduces the fragility associated with a process that none of us can avoid: aging. I dedicate a portion of my visits with PD patients to emphasizing the importance of this aspect. Additionally, cultivating good habits, engaging in cognitive and cultural activities, as well as nurturing a rich social life are all essential factors for health. In fact, they are integral to what the World Health Organization defines as good health.


Why should people who don’t have Parkinson’s care about this? 


To begin with because there are lots of people worldwide living with the disease and we have to do our best to remove the stigma about it and to try to help in improving it. Second because the disease is very common, and with age as the main risk factor it can affect anyone, including ourselves or our beloved ones.


Have you had any family members or relatives affected by Parkinson’s disease?


 Fortunately, anyone in my family or close friends have been affected. However, there are many people I care about who are impacted by it, my patients.


If you had one song that would tell us more about you or represent your life which song would it be?


I have two. Asleep, by the Smiths and “Always look on the bright side of life”, by the Monty Python.


If you had one final statement or quote you could leave for the Parkinson’s community, what would it be?


Keep moving forward; many of us are working hard towards that desired cure.