NEWYORK, NY— In keeping with The Michael J. Fox Foundation’s mission to accelerate scientific breakthroughs that can transform the lives of people with Parkinson’s disease, the Foundation today announced the appointment of Irene Hegeman Richard, MD, to the newly created role of Senior Medical Advisor. This appointment formalizes the role of Dr. Richard, who is associate professor of neurology and psychiatry at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, in helping to inform and develop MJFF’s clinical agenda.
Dr. Richard brings experience in running large-scale Parkinson’s trials and is familiar with the challenges facing this research area. Formalizing her role as advisor to the Foundation will help ensure that MJFF’s increasing involvement in clinical trials, including trial design and regulatory issues, is as efficient and targeted as possible. She will also provide important feedback on pre-clinical experimental design, helping to ensure that all studies funded by MJFF — not only those requiring the active involvement of patients — are designed with potential clinical issues in mind.
“Irene’s clinical research perspective complements the scientific expertise of Gene Johnson, PhD, MJFF’s chief scientific advisor, and her input will be a boon to our research staff and advisors in continually raising the bar on the patient-relevant outcomes we expect from every project we fund,” said Katie Hood, interim CEO of The Michael J. Fox Foundation. “Additionally, as a clinician with an active neurology practice, Irene has a deep understanding of the challenges faced every day by people living with PD — something the Foundation values deeply, since patients are at the center of every activity we undertake.”
Dr. Richard has served on the Foundation’s SAB since 2006. She also has been a member of the review committee for the Foundation’s annual Clinical Discovery Program, which funds high-impact clinical projects in PD, since the program was first launched in 2004, and has played a key role in continually refining its specific criteria for patient-relevant grant selection. Additionally, she has frequently spoken to MJFF friends and supporters at the Foundation’s Research Roundtable events across the country.
At the University of Rochester, Dr. Richard provides neurological care for people living with PD and runs a research program focused on the psychiatric aspects of the illness. She is currently leading an NIH-funded multi-center clinical trial evaluating the treatment of depression in PD. She has given lectures and chaired workshops and symposia at national meetings including the AmericanAcademy of Neurology and The World Parkinson Congress.
“As a grant reviewer for the Foundation and a member of its Scientific Advisory Board, I’ve been impressed by The Michael J. Fox Foundation’s extraordinary commitment to speeding scientific solutions to the clinic and patients — a commitment I share,” said Dr. Richard. “The Foundation understands that it’s never too early in the drug development process to think clinically, and I’m thrilled to take on formal responsibility for working with its staff and advisors to continually improve our ability to do this across the board.