Parkinson's is a progressive disorder of the nervous system, meaning it gets worse with time.
Now, doctors believe this new study will give them the tools to eventually slow the disease or even prevent it.
Researchers at Penn are looking for people who may be at risk for the disease.
"This is really the first attempt, in a large scale way, to identify factors that will ultimately enable us to diagnose patients before they develop symptoms," said Dr. Matthew Stern of the Parkinson's Disease Center at Penn.
They already know some potential risk factors, such as REM sleep behavior disorder, in which people violently act out their dreams.
Loss of smell is another indicator.
The study is sponsored by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.
They need healthy adults 60 or older to be volunteers. If you have risk factors or a family history, you may also be a good candidate.
To find out more about the Parkinson's Risk factor study, visit:
www.michaeljfox.org/takethesmellsurvey or (877) 525-PPMI
For more information or local support, visit: