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What We Fund: $24 Million in New Grants for Parkinson's Research


The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF) announces 127 new grant awards totaling more than $24 million. These projects reflect our research strategy to define, measure and treat Parkinson's disease. We also awarded grants to develop the research tools the field needs to advance.

All of our funding is focused on our mission to find a cure for Parkinson's and to improve quality of life for those living with the disease today. Each step — from basic research to understand the disease through clinical trials of potential drugs to stop it — is designed to support those goals.

Highlights of our latest grants follow. For more information on recent MJFF-supported projects, visit our Funded Grants page.

We seek to understand the causes of Parkinson's, its progression and the factors that account for the variability of the disease. We recently supported 32 new grants in this area at a total of $5,354,712.

  • Many of these projects are funded through a joint funding program with The Silverstein Foundation for Parkinson's with GBA. Read more in a press release about those selected projects, which aim to understand and test new treatments against GBA. Mutations in this gene are the most common genetic contributors to Parkinson's disease.
  • We are running a similar funding program around the protein alpha-synuclein, which clumps in the cells of people with Parkinson's disease. The supported projects include a study from Deniz Kirik, MD, PhD, at Lund University in Sweden using gene-editing technology to lower alpha-synuclein levels. This could teach us about the role of this protein in disease and the potential of this approach as a Parkinson's therapy.

MJFF funds the discovery of methods to diagnose Parkinson's, measure its progression and assess the effectiveness of treatments for it. We recently supported 63 new grants in this area at a total of $8,674,094.

  • We are funding Matthew Cooper, PhD, at Inflazome Ltd. to develop an imaging tracer of the protein NLRP3, which is involved in inflammation. Chronic inflammation may play a role in Parkinson's disease, and a tool to visualize this process could help diagnose and track disease and test new therapies.
  • In partnership with the Weston Brain Institute, MJFF is supporting two computational science fellowships. Grants to the University of Toronto and the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute will help those institutions enroll fellows who will apply data science skills to analyze Parkinson's data toward more objective measures of the disease and its subtypes.
  • MJFF is funding pharmaceutical company Roche to screen for neurodegenerative biomarkers using its NeuroToolkit. Roche will run 1,700 samples from the MJFF-led Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative through its tool to look for potential new measures of Parkinson's disease. The NeuroToolkit is able to screen for multiple biomarkers and is also being used in Alzheimer's research, streamlining this work with a proven platform and enabling comparison to samples from other studies.

These awards directly fund the development of treatments to slow or stop Parkinson's and alleviate its symptoms. We recently supported 21 new grants in this area at a total of $9,393,888.

  • Eight recently funded projects will explore innovative approaches such as vibrating socks and a wearable robotic device to manage gait and balance problems.
  • Jonas Hannestad, MD, PhD, from Alkahest, Inc., is leading an MJFF-funded clinical trial of GRF6021, a blood plasma protein fraction. Components of blood have been found to improve health and enhance brain function in older animals, and the beneficial effects of blood plasma components called proteins are being studied in multiple human diseases associated with aging. GRF6021 has shown positive effects on cognitive and motor function in models of Parkinson's disease. The trial will test the safety of GRF6021 and its effects on motor and cognitive function in people with Parkinson's and cognitive problems.

In addition to directly funding research projects, we ensure the field has the tools — from laboratory resources to patient data — it needs to advance. These projects are developing and validating resources that help scientists stay focused on making progress toward scientific breakthroughs. We recently supported 11 new grants in this area at a total of $605,049.

  • MJFF has contracted the market research firm SSRS to develop a survey exploring how people with Parkinson's and their loved ones discuss the symptom of Parkinson's psychosisOur online study Fox Insight will deploy the survey later this year, and findings could direct how clinicians and researchers communicate on this topic.
  • We are funding new laboratory tools to define, measure and treat important targets, including PINK1 and alpha-synuclein. Existing tools already available to researchers can be found in our Tools Catalog.

Learn more about volunteering for clinical research studies with our Trial Participant Pack.

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