Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki announced a $50-million challenge spurring existing and new donors at every level to give, or increase giving, to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF). The Challenge is now in effect and will match all new or increased gifts to The Michael J. Fox Foundation on a one-to-one basis through year-end 2012.
The Brin Wojcicki Challenge will bolster MJFF’s ongoing efforts to reshape drug development for Parkinson’s disease. Founded in 2000, the Foundation has assembled a team with the expertise to continually identify the science closest and/or most critical to therapeutic breakthroughs, then designate or create the appropriate resources to push those research areas forward toward practical relevance for people living with the disease.
If the challenge is met, Ms. Wojcicki and Mr. Brin’s personal giving to MJFF since 2004 will surpass $130 million. In addition to generally supporting the Foundation’s research program expansion, their support has enabled MJFF to orchestrate and lead an integrated global effort to drive therapeutic development focused on the LRRK2 gene, the single greatest genetic contributor to Parkinson’s disease discovered to date.
Mr. Brin carries the LRRK2 G2019S mutation that has been linked to a significant increase in risk for Parkinson’s disease. His mother, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1999 and sits on the Foundation’s Patient Council, also is a carrier of the mutation. MJFF funding programs enabled by Brin Wojcicki giving to date have resulted in the demonstration that LRRK2’s kinase, or enzymatic, activity is required for the toxicity associated with Parkinson’s disease (a finding with important implications for drug development) and the discovery of a powerful tool for detecting molecular changes in the LRRK2 gene associated with Parkinson’s onset and progression.
“Anne and Sergey’s generosity already has resulted in seminal contributions to the LRRK2 field by MJFF-funded researchers and an unprecedented level of collaboration among all players,” said Todd Sherer, PhD, CEO of The Michael J. Fox Foundation. “We are excited to take on this Challenge — which we hope will inspire others to give generously — so that we can deploy similar strategies in other high-priority areas of PD research.”
Michael J. Fox said: “Anne and Sergey’s generosity to our Foundation, through their personal contributions and this Challenge, defies description. On behalf of the millions Parkinson’s patients and their loved ones who stand to benefit, I’m more grateful than words can say.”
Mr. Brin is co-founder of Google. Ms. Wojcicki is co-founder of 23andMe, a personal genetics company.
About The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research
As the world’s largest private 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 nearly $240 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 Parkinson’s awareness through high-profile advocacy, events and outreach; and coordinates the grassroots involvement of thousands of Team Fox members around the world.