End of an Era for Fast Food Innovator

Glen W. Bell, the fast food innovator and entrepreneur who founded Taco Bell, died last Saturday at the age of 86. No cause of death was given but Mr. Bell suffered from Parkinson’s disease for more than 20 years, since 1985. Last July Taco Bell’s mascot, the chihuahua named Gidget, died from a stroke at age 15. Glen Bell, a former U.S. Marine,  sold the company for $125 million in 1978.

More than one million people in the US have Parkinson’s disease and there are about 50,000 new cases each year in the US. About 1 in 100 people over the age of 65 have Parkinson’s disease. Actor Michael J. Fox, 48, and boxer Muhammad Ali, 68, suffer from Parkinson’s disease and both have devoted considerable efforts to supporting and advancing research.

Rush Limbaugh was accused of mocking Mr. Fox by imitating his symptoms while criticizing his support for stem cell research as seen in this YouTube video.

Last spring, Google co-founder Sergy Brin discovered that he was at high risk for developing Parkinson’s disease after having himself tested by his wife’s company, 23andMe, a provider of direct-to-consumer genetic testing. Subsequently, Mr. Brin donated money for Parkinson’s disease research which is administered through the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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