At "Fellowship Symposium Day," The Michael J. Fox Foundation Announces Five Academic Medical Centers Awarded Funding through Edmond J. Safra Fellowship in Movement Disorders

- Fourth round of fellowship funding makes total of 15 international academic medical centers awarded funding to train new movement disorder clinician-researchers

- Program aims to graduate 20 new movement disorder specialists by the year 2021

- "Fellowship Symposium Day" unites fellows and mentors to share research progress

NEW YORK, May 1, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As part of its mission to improve Parkinson's research and care, and accelerate development of new and better treatments for Parkinson's disease, The The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF) announced the latest round of clinical centers selected to receive funding through The Edmond J. Safra Fellowship in Movement Disorders.

The announcement was made at a New York City "Fellowship Symposium Day" attended by MJFF Board member Lily Safra and 25 of 29 total Edmond J. Safra fellows and fellowship Directors.

Launched in 2014, MJFF's Edmond J. Safra Fellowship in Movement Disorders annually awards funding to five international academic medical centers to train one new movement disorder clinician-researcher (respectively) over a two-year period. By the year 2021, the program aims to graduate 20 new movement disorder specialists around the world to care for people with Parkinson's disease (PD) and connect the dots between their patients and important research discoveries.

The centers selected to train the Class of 2021 are:

  • Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois
  • Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  • University of Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany
  • University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

An advisory committee selected awardees based on several criteria, including the quality of clinical education and the depth and breadth of research opportunities. Each institution will now identify a fellow who will begin two years of training in July 2019. Fellows work directly with mentors -- esteemed movement disorder specialists in their own right -- who model and teach the skills necessary for a career as a clinician-researcher.

"This program signals our commitment to Parkinson's research and care, and we're honored to collaborate with our longtime partner and supporter the Edmond J. Safra Foundation," said Todd Sherer, PhD, CEO of The Michael J. Fox Foundation. "Building an international network of movement disorder specialists is critical to driving research momentum and better addressing the considerable care needs of those living with Parkinson's."

Fellowship Symposium Day Advances Parkinson's Research and Care Agenda
The Fellowship Symposium Day provided a forum for Edmond J. Safra fellows and their mentors to learn from each other and leading Parkinson's researchers, as well as to explore potential career paths in movement disorders. Ken Marek, MD, the principal investigator of the MJFF-sponsored Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), spoke about the impact of this observational biomarker study on the PD research landscape and clinical trial design. The five graduating fellows in the Class of 2018 talked about their past two years honing clinical abilities and leading research to understand their patients' diseases, discover diagnostic tests, and evaluate treatments to ease symptoms or stop disease progression. At a luncheon attended by Lily Safra, fellows shared their patient care experiences and research progress made possible by participation in the program.

"The Edmond J. Safra Fellowship in Movement Disorders has given me the time to get to know my patients and find out the symptoms and problems that matter to them," said David Breen, BSc (Hons), MBChB, MRCP (Neurol), PhD, fellow at Toronto Western Hospital in Ontario, Canada. "I feel truly privileged to have learned from my patients, colleagues and mentors through this program."

Read more about the graduating fellows and their career paths.

Watch a video about the fellowship program.

Movement Disorder Fellowship Addresses a Growing Need
Seeing a movement disorder specialist -- a neurologist with extra training in diagnosing and treating Parkinson's and other movement disorders -- is one of the keys to living well with Parkinson's. These physicians have the knowledge and experience to balance complicated medication regimens, integrate the latest therapies and round out a person's care team with other experts. When also skilled as researchers, movement disorder specialists use insights from their patients to inform studies toward improved understanding of disease and treatments. People with Parkinson's who see specialists typically report feeling more informed and better equipped to manage their disease.

Yet not everyone sees a movement disorder specialist because there aren't enough of them, and this disparity is growing. Estimates hold that 6 million people across the world are living with Parkinson's and this number will double by 2040.

To provide care for this population and continue research toward better understanding of Parkinson's, therapies and a cure, The Edmond J. Safra Fellowship in Movement Disorders is bridging the gap in funding to train movement disorder specialists and build the global base of clinician-researchers.

"This program is serving a critical need," said Lily Safra, chairwoman of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation and member of the MJFF Board of Directors. "More expertly trained movement disorder specialists means more doctors to care for people with Parkinson's and lead research toward better therapies and a cure."

A Devotion to Advancing Parkinson's Research and Care
Late banker and philanthropist Edmond J. Safra's namesake foundation has long made Parkinson's disease care and research top priorities. Mrs. Safra, chairwoman of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation, has been an MJFF Board member since 2001.

In addition to generous gifts to centers and programs providing direct care to people with Parkinson's disease, Mrs. Safra and her foundation have driven vital scientific investigation into new treatments. The fellowship is the latest among many partnerships between the Edmond J. Safra Foundation and MJFF, including the Edmond J. Safra Core Programs for PD Research, one of MJFF's central grantmaking avenues to support high-impact Parkinson's research projects.

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.

About the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation
Edmond J. Safra, one of the 20th century's most accomplished bankers and a devoted philanthropist, established a major philanthropic foundation to ensure that individuals and organizations would continue to receive his assistance and encouragement for many years to come. Under the chairmanship of his beloved wife Lily, the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation draws continuing inspiration from its founder's life and values, and supports hundreds of organizations in more than 40 countries around the world. Its work encompasses four areas: Education; Science and Medicine; Religion; and Humanitarian Assistance, Culture and Social Welfare. The Foundation has provided significant funding for Parkinson's disease research and patient care at dozens of hospitals and institutes in places as varied as Natal (Brazil), Toronto, New York, Grenoble, Paris, London and Jerusalem.

For more information, visit

CONTACT: Christopher Rucas, 212-509-0995 ext. 294,

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SOURCE The Michael J. Fox Foundation


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