This week The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) honored three individuals whose actions have had a massive impact in the lives of people with movement disorders.
Our Foundation created the Edmond J. Safra Humanitarian Award to honor Lily Safra, chairwoman of The Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation and a founding member of MJFF’s Board of Directors. Mrs. Safra is a globally recognized philanthropist with a legacy of serving others through her immense generosity and compassion for humanity.
In tandem, MJFF conferred the Robert A. Pritzker Prize for Leadership in Parkinson's Research to Caroline Tanner, MD, PhD, and the Bachmann-Strauss Prize for Excellence in Dystonia Research to William Dauer, MD.
The three award recipients were announced at a virtual research roundtable event on November 17, 2020.
Edmond J. Safra Humanitarian Award
MJFF created The Edmond J. Safra Humanitarian Award in 2020. It recognizes Lily Safra's commitment to speeding better treatments and a cure for Parkinson’s disease, and to improving quality of life for people and families living with the disease today. It is named in honor of the late Edmond J. Safra, international banker and founder of The Edmond J. Safra Foundation.
“Lily understands our mission through informed generosity and supports us with spirit and affection,” said Michael J. Fox at the roundtable. “Her generosity of spirit is unmatched. She wants us to find a cure, and she’s going to do everything she can to help us. I couldn’t be more grateful.”
Robert A. Pritzker Prize for Leadership in Parkinson’s Research
Tanner, professor of neurology at the Weill Institute for Neurosciences, University of California, San Francisco, is recipient of the Robert A. Pritzker Prize for Leadership in Parkinson's Research, which comes with a $100,000 research grant. The Prize has been awarded annually since 2011 by MJFF to recognize researchers who make exceptional contributions to Parkinson's research and display a commitment to mentoring the next generation of Parkinson's scientists.
Tanner’s varied research interests include how environmental factors contribute to disease, and her work has linked exposure to commonly used pesticides with increased risk of Parkinson’s disease. She is also principal investigator of MJFF’s online clinical study Fox Insight.
Bachmann-Strauss Prize for Excellence in Dystonia Research
The sixth annual Bachmann-Strauss Prize for Excellence in Dystonia Research recognizes Dauer, director of the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute and professor of neurology and neuroscience at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. The prize — which also brings an unrestricted $100,000 research grant — recognizes dystonia researchers for key scientific discoveries and incentivizes the next generation of investigators to continue forging paths toward cures.
Dauer led a group of researchers that in 2014 developed a pre-clinical model that mimics dystonia, a movement disorder and symptom of Parkinson’s characterized by painful, prolonged muscle contractions that result in abnormal movements and postures. This important tool has allowed scientists to better explore the biology of dystonia’s onset and progression and test the impact of therapies.