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Brain Disease Research Organizations Pledge $2 Million USD to Uncover Similarities and Differences across Spectrum of Disorders

  • Applications accepted through September 10, 2018
  • Open to academic and industry researchers
  • Providing up to $150,000 USD (£98,000/$188,225 CDN) for each two-year research project.

NEW YORK, CHICAGO, TORONTO, LONDON (July 26, 2018) -- Four leading supporters of brain disease research are continuing a global funding initiative to uncover similarities and differences across neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. The program, Biomarkers Across Neurodegenerative Diseases (BAND), launched in 2014 and is a joint initiative of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research and the Alzheimer's Association in the United States, the Weston Brain Institute in Canada, and Alzheimer's Research UK in the United Kingdom.

In BAND's third funding round -- open to academic and industry scientists around the globe -- the partners will offer $2 million USD (£1.5m, $2.6m CDN) for projects comparing Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other brain-deteriorating diseases such as Lewy body dementia or progressive supranuclear palsy, which together affect tens of millions of people worldwide. The new round of funding will provide up to $150,000 USD (£98,000/$188,225 CDN) for each research project.

Ultimately, the goal of this program is to produce strategies to increase understanding of the likenesses or distinctions between neurodegenerative diseases to help stratify populations and possible treatments. While each condition shows a distinct clinical profile, research has hinted at underlying pathological and possibly genetic linkages across the neurodegenerative continuum. As disease-modifying therapies advance, selection of clinical trial participants based on biomarker profiles may increase the probability of success in demonstrating a beneficial effect.

"Better defining similarities and differences across conditions can help us measure and treat brain disorders based more on an individual's biology rather than on an umbrella diagnosis. The BAND program unites our organizations and leverages our previous investments toward better care and ultimately cures for brain disease," said Todd Sherer, PhD, CEO, The Michael J. Fox Foundation.

Heather Snyder, PhD, Alzheimer's Association Senior Director of Medical and Scientific Operations, said: "The Alzheimer's Association is delighted to work with its partners from around the world on this exciting funding initiative. It builds on evidence that suggests overlap in the course and effects of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and other neurodegenerative diseases, but seeks to find additional similarities and connections. The program encourages submission of innovative pilot projects and visionary new ways to work with existing data."

"As well defined cohorts of data continue to emerge within the field of neurodegenerative diseases of aging, optimized data analysis is needed to maximize therapeutic and scientific potential. This program helps to break down barriers between diseases and apply cutting edge analytics to leverage existing data sets, two approaches which are critical for fast progress towards improving treatments in this field," said Alexandra Stewart, Executive Director of the Weston Brain Institute.

Dr David Reynolds, Chief Scientific Officer at Alzheimer's Research UK, said: "We are delighted to be joining forces for this important initiative, which will help to answer key questions about brain diseases that affect millions of people worldwide. By increasing our understanding of how these different diseases are related, we hope to gain vital insight not only for improving our ability to diagnose these diseases, but for developing life-changing treatments."

The first two rounds of BAND funding have already directed more than $3 million USD (£2.3m, $3.9m CDN) to 20 research projects. Notable previously funded projects include:

  • Experts at the University College London that used imaging data to develop models of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease to define underlying disease mechanisms.
  • A team at the Carlo Besta Neurological Institute in Italy evaluated markers in the olfactory mucous membrane -- smell loss is an early symptom of brain disease, and changes are seen in the olfactory bulb -- to differentiate between dementia types.
  • Researchers at Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, better predicted disease progression by creating atrophy brain maps from MRI scans to investigate the spread of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease along brain networks, which may point to biomarker candidates or therapeutic targets. 
  • Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania investigated whether Alzheimer's-associated genetic mutations present in people with Parkinson's can predict rate of cognitive decline.
  • More information about the BAND program and funding application details are available at


About The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research
As the world's largest nonprofit funder of Parkinson's research, The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to accelerating a cure for Parkinson's disease and improved therapies for those living with the condition today. The Foundation pursues its goals through an aggressively funded, highly targeted research program coupled with active global engagement of scientists, Parkinson's patients, business leaders, clinical trial participants, donors and volunteers. In addition to funding more than $800 million in research to date, the Foundation has fundamentally altered the trajectory of progress toward a cure. Operating at the hub of worldwide Parkinson's research, the Foundation forges groundbreaking collaborations with industry leaders, academic scientists and government research funders; increases the flow of participants into Parkinson's disease clinical trials with its online tool, Fox Trial Finder; promotes Parkinson's awareness through high-profile advocacy, events and outreach; and coordinates the grassroots involvement of thousands of Team Fox members around the world. For more information, visit

About the Alzheimer's Association
The Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research. It is the largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer's research. The Association's mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Its vision is a world without Alzheimer's. Visit or call 800.272.3900.

About the Weston Brain Institute
The Weston Brain Institute is Canada's largest privately funded national initiative aimed at accelerating breakthrough discoveries for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases of aging, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and frontotemporal dementia. The Institute directly supports Canada's world-class neuroscience research community and focuses on high-risk, high-reward projects, independent of commercial potential, that address the existing translational gap in neurodegenerative research using an innovative fast-track granting model. The Institute is a program of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation.,; twitter: @westonbrain; facebook: WestonBrainInstitute

About Alzheimer's Research UK
Alzheimer's Research UK is the UK's leading charity specialising in finding preventions, treatments and a cure for dementia. We rely on donations to fund our vital dementia research. To help us defeat dementia, donate today by visiting or calling 0300 111 5555. We are currently supporting pioneering dementia research projects worth over £31 million in leading Universities across the UK. How can we challenge perceptions of dementia using only an orange? Find out more at and help us share a better understanding about dementia, #Sharetheorange

Media Contact:
Christopher Rucas
The Michael J. Fox Foundation
212-509-0995 X294

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