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Michael J. Fox’s Message in STAT News Exclusive: “This Is the Big Reward. This Is the Big Trophy”

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In an exclusive interview with health and science outlet STAT, Michael J. Fox sat down with award-winning journalist Matthew Herper to discuss the recent Parkinson’s biomarker breakthrough in a piece titled — “A Parkinson’s ‘Game Changer,’ Backed by Michael J. Fox, Could Lead to New Diagnostics and, Someday, Treatments.” (In case you missed it, read the full blog breaking down the breakthrough’s scientific findings here.

After an extraordinary year winning the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Oscar award for his tireless advocacy and the upcoming launch of his feature film, STILL: A Michael J. Fox Movie, on Apple TV, Michael shares candidly with STAT: “This is the thing. This is the big reward. This is the big trophy,” referring to the historic milestone and tool enabled by MJFF and its landmark study, the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI). 

The tool, called the α-synuclein seeding amplification assay (αSyn-SAA), can detect pathology in spinal fluid not only of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s, but also in individuals who have not yet been diagnosed or shown clinical symptoms of the disease, but are at a high risk of developing it.  

When reflecting on Michael’s leadership and what has set the Foundation apart, Matthew Herper writes in his own words: 

Celebrities often create foundations to try to draw attention to their own illnesses. But from the start the Fox Foundation was something different. Fox was willing to throw himself into the effort almost completely, and also had an amazing ability to pull in both top scientists and big donors. More than that, Fox could communicate with patients and their families, and that turned out to be a much bigger asset than anyone realized. Often what slows down medical research is not a lack of understanding of genes or proteins, but an inability to find people who are willing to sign up for the studies researchers need to know if their hunches will prove out.” 

On the biggest scientific victory yet in the Foundation’s history, Michael shares: 

“Now this is the newest chapter, which is, we got something done, something that is fundamentally going to change the world. I don’t say that lightly. I don’t say it with any credit. It’s the way it worked out.” 

Read the entire STAT exclusive featuring Michael J. Fox, Foundation leadership and Parkinson’s experts here. To hear more from Michael on what this enormous leap forward in research means for him, read his authored op-ed: “As a Parkinson’s Patient, I Felt a Little Left Behind by Biology’s Century — Until Now,” published in STAT’s “First Opinion” section. 

Then, take a look at additional Foundation coverage on this significant breakthrough in Forbes, ABC’s Good Morning America and Bloomberg Opinion. Learn more about PPMI, “the study that’s changing everything” and how you can join.  

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