Brooks to Helm Role She First Held After Co-Founding MJFF in 2000; Former CEO Todd Sherer to Focus Full-Time on Driving the Foundation’s Innovative Research Model
[May 20, 2021] — NEW YORK — The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) today announced that Deborah W. Brooks has been named CEO and Co-Founder of the nation’s leading organization dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease (PD). She takes the helm at a critical moment as the Foundation seeks to accelerate its mission by complementing its aggressively funded research agenda with efforts to engage the nationwide and international patient, family and researcher community in the development of improved therapies for those living with Parkinson’s today. Having co-founded MJFF with Michael J. Fox in 2000 and served as CEO until 2007 and Executive Vice Chairman until the present day, Brooks is a central architect of the Foundation’s milestone-driven, innovative research model that has generated more than $1 billion to support Parkinson’s research.
Todd Sherer, PhD, has served as MJFF CEO since 2011 and presided over an unprecedented period of growth in public, private and philanthropic investment in Parkinson’s research. He will transition into the newly created role of Executive Vice President, Research Strategy, charting a clear course for the coming era of Parkinson’s discovery and drug development. He is uniquely positioned to contribute to key new research initiatives, including MJFF’s relaunched landmark clinical study, the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (michaeljfox.org/ppmi). This new role leverages Sherer’s deep scientific expertise and credibility, and he will collaborate even more closely with MJFF’s ever-increasing roster of partners in biopharma and government to accelerate the pace of research and make a tangible impact on patients’ unmet needs.
“I’m grateful to Todd for his dedication to our mission, the deep scientific knowledge that informs his work, and all he’s done over the past decade to steer Parkinson’s research to a position of incredible promise,” said Michael J. Fox. “And I look forward to working with Debi as CEO to provide our community with even greater opportunities to engage with our mission and be the solution they seek.”
In addition to these new roles for Brooks and Sherer, the organization is optimizing the tremendous depth of the Foundation’s leadership team by naming Sohini Chowdhury as Deputy CEO, Head of Research, reflecting her expanded responsibilities as part of a holistic MJFF research leadership team steering the Foundation’s grant funding and research programs.
This leadership transition marks the next phase of Brooks and Sherer’s ongoing partnership to realize Michael J. Fox’s vision for accelerating better treatments and a cure for Parkinson’s. Together they have been integral contributors to MJFF’s strategy to jump-start Parkinson’s research by:
- Spearheading major public-private partnerships to geometrically expand biological understanding of Parkinson’s disease;
- Dramatically increasing available funding for researchers working on the most promising therapeutic targets in basic, translational and/or clinical investigation; and
- Setting the table for biopharma industry investment by leveraging philanthropic capital to “de-risk” high-risk/high-reward approaches to PD.
Debi Brooks stated: “The next five to seven years are critical for individuals and families with Parkinson’s. It has become imperative that MJFF dedicate even greater resources to the education and engagement of the patient community on the important role they play in research participation in order to accelerate the better treatments they urgently need. With the explosion in science coupled with the passion of the global PD community, we are poised to achieve a new, even higher trajectory of acceleration in addressing decades of unmet medical needs and, ultimately, eradicating PD altogether.”
Skip Irving, chairman of the Board of Directors of The Michael J. Fox Foundation, said: “Todd and Debi, along with Sohini, have been working together very closely as a team, sharing leadership responsibilities and decision-making for many years. This transition reflects their continued unwavering resolve to do the most good for the millions living with Parkinson’s disease. For this, and their out-of-box thinking, the Board of Directors commends them.”
Brooks, supported by Chowdhury, will provide day-to-day management and oversight of all Foundation activities, with Brooks specifically overseeing fundraising, marketing, administration, talent and financial management, and Chowdhury overseeing the research team. Brooks will report to the Board of Directors.
Brooks started her career at Goldman Sachs, where she spent nine years as vice president in the Fixed Income and Asset Management Divisions. She holds an AB in Economics from the College of William and Mary, an MBA from the Tuck School at Dartmouth College and an MS in Marital and Family Therapy from Northwestern University. A full biography is available at www.michaeljfox.org.
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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 $1 billion 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 us at www.michaeljfox.org.
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