The Michael J. Fox Foundation Commits $10 Million to New "LEAPS" Research Program
The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinsonís Research (MJFF) announced yesterday a new Parkinsonís research program, LEAPS (Linked Efforts to Accelerate Parkinsonís Solutions), designed to have a practical impact on lives of Parkinsonís patients.† MJFF has committed a minimum of $10 million to the program.
ďLEAPS is an opportunity for scientists to form an ďall-starĒ team to answer a major question in Parkinsonís science,Ē said J. Timothy Greenamyre, MD, PhD, professor of neurology at Emory University and member of the MJFF scientific advisory board, who will serve as chairman of the LEAPS advisory board.†
While in recent years there has been considerable progress in a number of important areas of Parkinsonís disease (PD) research, Dr. Greenamyre noted that many big questions about the disease remain unanswered.† MJFF created LEAPS as a new paradigm to jump-start progress through collaborative, multidisciplinary research efforts that translate into new treatments or otherwise have a tangible impact on PD.†
ďThe LEAPS program is the next step in the Foundationís research funding strategy,Ē said Deborah W. Brooks, MJFF executive director.† ďBy providing multi-million dollar, multi-year grants, LEAPS allows multi-disciplinary teams to collaborate on critical ďbig pictureĒ research questions that can be addressed more effectively in a team setting than by an individual researcher working alone.Ē† Ms. Brooks noted that LEAPS would complement the Foundationís ongoing portfolio of directive programs and investigator-initiated grants.
Examples of questions where a LEAPS grant might be appropriate include:† How can we slow or halt the progression of Parkinsonís disease?†† How can we prevent or control levodopa-induced dyskinesias? How can we use neurotrophic factors to repair the Parkinsonís brain?
The Foundation has created an independent advisory board comprised of scientists and selected laypeople to oversee all LEAPS-related matters, including application review, program structure and progress assessment.† In addition to Dr. Greenamyre, scientific members will include:
- Gerald D. Fischbach, MD.† Former director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Fischbach is currently Columbia University's dean of the College of the Physicians and Surgeons and executive vice president for Health and Biomedical Sciences.† Dr. Fischbach is also the Harold and Margaret Hatch Professor of the University in the Faculties of Health Sciences and of Medicine.
- Paul Greengard, PhD.† Director of the Fisher Center for Alzheimerís Research at The Rockefeller University, Dr. Greengardís pioneering work in delineating how neurons communicate with one another earned him the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine.
- G. Frederick Wooten, Jr., MD.† Dr. Wooten is chairman of the Department of Neurology at the University of Virginia and a well-known Parkinsonís disease expert.
The Foundation anticipates awarding between two and four LEAPS grants this year, with project periods from two to four years.† Grants will be awarded based on the potential impact and scientific merit of the chosen research question, probability of success in developing new treatments or otherwise accelerating progress in Parkinsonís science, leadership and team track record, as well as other criteria.†
MJFF has scheduled an informational conference call to be held on Tuesday, May 20, 2003 in order to present an overview of the program and detail the application requirements.† The session will also allow potential applicants to engage in a question and answer period.† For more information on how to register for and participate in this session, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
LEAPS augments the Foundationís aggressive research agenda to funding initiatives which will accelerate the curing of Parkinsonís disease.† To date, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinsonís Research has funded nearly $27 million in research aimed at finding a cure for the disease, either directly or through partnerships.†† In addition, the Foundation has announced another $4 million in research programs on inflammation and dyskinesias, expected to be awarded by July 2003.