The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research Announces Availability of $7 Million in Fall 2018 Research Funding to Expand Understanding of Parkinson's Disease and Accelerate Drug Development

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research Announces Availability of $7 Million in Fall 2018 Research Funding to Expand Understanding of Parkinson's Disease and Accelerate Drug Development

- Funding programs aim to support Parkinson's research into gait and balance disturbances, leading drug targets and biological markers

- Programs prioritize unmet patient needs and most promising areas of scientific discovery

NEW YORK, March 19, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As part of its ambitious mission to speed Parkinson's disease research toward breakthrough treatments and a cure, The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) today announced up to $7 million in available funding for investigator-initiated projects in four fast-moving fields of inquiry. Pre-proposals are invited now through May, with funding anticipated in November 2018.

The programs opening today aim to use novel technologies to treat one of Parkinson's most serious symptoms; increase understanding and development of two leading drug targets; and develop tests to quantify disease pathology.

"We are working diligently toward breakthroughs for people with Parkinson's and are committed to helping make therapy options available to treat the disease," said MJFF CEO Todd Sherer, PhD. "We are proud of our dedication to using patient-raised capital to speed the outcomes patients need. The targeted funding programs announced today will fuel cutting-edge research in areas of significant scientific potential, providing multiple shots on goal."

Easing an Untreated Symptom: Non-pharmacological Interventions for Gait and Balance Problems ($2 million)
Gait and balance disturbances are among the most troubling and under-addressed aspects of Parkinson's disease. A constellation of related symptoms can lead to falls, injury, loss of independence and diminished quality of life. For many patients, current pharmacological interventions are inadequate to improve challenges in gait and balance. Researchers are increasingly looking "beyond the medicine cabinet" to better care for people who experience these issues.

MJFF is currently funding approximately $2.7 million in projects studying the brain circuitry and clinical experience of gait and balance problems. This program will complement that activity by funding studies to investigate the therapeutic benefit of assistive devices (e.g., back or leg braces), novel technologies (e.g., laser or wearable devices) or rehabilitative therapy programs (e.g., physical or occupational therapy).

Applicants may request up to $500,000. This program is not appropriate for cognitive strategies or exercise programs.

Clearing the Clumps: Alpha-synuclein Biology and Therapies ($1.5 million)
The protein alpha-synuclein is the major component of Lewy bodies, protein clumps found in brain and body cells of nearly everyone with Parkinson's disease. Researchers believe that Lewy bodies may play a causal role in PD onset and progression. For this reason, alpha-synuclein is a leading Parkinson's drug target. This program aims to advance understanding of the role of alpha-synuclein in normal and disease states to refine and optimize approaches for alpha-synuclein drug development.

Applicants may request up to $150,000 for biological investigations or $500,000 for novel therapeutic development.

Profiling a Leading Genetic Cause: GBA Biology and Therapies ($1.5 million)
Co-led with the Silverstein Foundation for Parkinson's with GBA
MJFF has allocated $16.4 million in funding to date to expand understanding of the GBA gene in Parkinson's and speed learnings toward practical therapies. While mutations in the GBA gene account for five to 10 percent of all Parkinson's cases (making it one of the most common genetic contributors to PD), GBA protein dysfunction has been observed even in Parkinson's patients who do not carry mutations in the GBA gene. This potential broad base of benefit makes it an especially compelling drug target. This program seeks to increase understanding of the role of GBA in PD disease processes and to accelerate and facilitate the delivery of drugs targeting GBA mutations in people with Parkinson's.

Applicants may request up to $150,000 for biological investigations or $500,000 for novel therapeutic development.

Measuring Disease: Protein Handling, Exosome and Lipidomics Biomarkers ($2 million)
Objective measures of Parkinson's risk, onset and/or progression (biomarkers) are a critical unmet need to transform patient care and drug development. Beyond their utility in earlier and accurate diagnosis, biomarkers are critically needed to enable more efficient, cost-effective clinical trials. To date, no objective biomarker for PD exists. MJFF has been a field leader and consistent funder of Parkinson's biomarker discovery, optimization and verification since 2002 through multiple funding and strategic initiatives. This includes the $80-million Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), a landmark clinical study now under way at 33 sites around the world.

This program seeks to support grants to develop and test biomarker assays in three highly relevant Parkinson's biology areas: protein handing/autophagy, exosomes and lipidomics. Observed PD dysfunction in these pathways points to potential utility as measures of disease, which now requires systematic and strategic development to move forward toward practical relevance. While biosamples from PPMI and other MJFF-supported studies are available for research use, access to those samples and funding for studies using them are awarded through a separate mechanism and not available from this RFA. Visit for more information on those resources.

Requested funding support through this RFA should be commensurate with the stage of development and work proposed.

Pre-proposals Due May 31, 2018
The deadline for pre-proposals for all four programs is Thursday, May 31, 2018 at 5 p.m. ET. Cross-disciplinary researchers and those new to Parkinson's disease are encouraged to apply. The Foundation will host an informational webinar on Thursday, May 10, 2018 at 12 p.m. ET to review the aims of these programs, detail the MJFF funding process and answer applicant questions. To register for the webinar and download funding applications, visit

MJFF has funded more than 2,600 Parkinson's research projects to date and its on-staff team of PhDs, MD and business-trained project managers currently oversee a portfolio of more than 700 active grants. In addition to creating critical research tools, galvanizing an engaged community of supporters and research volunteers, and advocating for policy and regulatory decisions to advance Parkinson's research and care, the Foundation's funding directly to investigator-driven projects is a catalyst for scientific discovery and progress toward therapies that will make a difference in patient lives.

About The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research
As the world's largest nonprofit funder of Parkinson's research, The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to accelerating a cure for Parkinson's disease and improved therapies for those living with the condition today. The Foundation pursues its goals through an aggressively funded, highly targeted research program coupled with active global engagement of scientists, Parkinson's patients, business leaders, clinical trial participants, donors and volunteers. In addition to funding more than $800 million in research to date, the Foundation has fundamentally altered the trajectory of progress toward a cure. Operating at the hub of worldwide Parkinson's research, the Foundation forges groundbreaking collaborations with industry leaders, academic scientists and government research funders; increases the flow of participants into Parkinson's disease clinical trials with its online tool, Fox Trial Finder; promotes Parkinson's awareness through high-profile advocacy, events and outreach; and coordinates the grassroots involvement of thousands of Team Fox members around the world. For more information, visit us on the Web, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

CONTACT: Christopher Rucas, The Michael J. Fox Foundation,, Office: 212.509.0995

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