The Michael J. Fox Foundation Funds $2 Million to Solve Midbrain System Mysteries
The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) announced today that it has awarded approximately $2.1 million to fund 10 research projects studying the molecular and cellular signals that produce and maintain the midbrain dopaminergic system that degenerates in Parkinson’s disease. The awards were funded in part through a grant from the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation.
The Foundation launched this initiative in October 2003 in order to better understand the development of dopaminergic neurons and their relationship to the entire brain circuitry network. Understanding how the dopamine system develops and functions will shed light on the causes of PD and is an essential step toward progress in therapeutic strategies, most notably cell replacement.
“We have learned a great deal from recent research on embryonic stem cells, but we don’t know yet how to transplant them successfully so that they integrate into the brain long-term as stable, functioning dopaminergic neurons,” said
“Each grant recipient was chosen because their study promises to dissect a different signal that instructs or maintains a brain circuit,” explained
The following is a complete list of researchers who were awarded grants for The Michael J. Fox Foundation Specification, Patterning and Maintenance of Midbrain Dopaminergic Systems in the
Anders Bjorklund, MD, PhD and Thomas Perlmann, PhD
Ted Dawson, MD, PhD
“Generation & Characterization of Mice with Inducible & Cell-Type Specific Interruption of GDNF Signaling”
Sheng Ding, PhD
The Scripps Research Institute
“Small Molecules That Promote Regeneration of Dopaminergic Neurons from Human Neural Stem Cells”
Johan Ericson, PhD and Thomas Perlmann, PhD
“Identification of Novel Determinants for Dopamine Neuron Generation in Vivo & Embryonic Stem Cells”
Dong-Youn Hwang, PhD
Ann Marie Janson, MD, PhD
“Studies on Endogenous Neurogenesis in the Adult Mammalian Substantia Nigra”
“Role of Neural Precursor Cells of Ventricular Wall Origin in Endogenous Plasticity in Animal Models of PD”
Susan McConnell, PhD and Marc Tessier-Lavigne, PhD
David Park, PhD and Antonio Colavita, PhD
Horst Simon, PhD
“Analysis of the Progressive Postnatal Loss of Nigral Dopaminergic Neurons in Engrailed Mutant Mice”
The program is one element of the Foundation’s aggressive research agenda aimed at finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease.