Skip to main content

Michael J. Fox Foundation Announces $10-million “Ken Griffin Alpha-synuclein Imaging Competition” Spurring Development of Critical and Elusive Research Tool for Parkinson’s Disease

  • Funded in part through a $7.5-million gift from global business leader and dedicated philanthropist Ken Griffin, competition will incentivize research teams to race to develop a game-changing Parkinson’s tool
  • Program builds on the Foundation’s longstanding commitment to speed arrival of an imaging tracer to track Parkinson’s pathology in the living brain
  • Application deadline is January 17, 2020 at

NEW YORK (September 23, 2019) – Today, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) announces the “Ken Griffin Alpha-synuclein Imaging Competition,” a $10-million program to develop a groundbreaking tool for Parkinson’s research: an imaging tracer to visualize the key protein alpha-synuclein in the living brain.

The new competition is funded in large part through a $7.5 million leadership gift from Ken Griffin, Founder and CEO of the Chicago-based global investment firm Citadel. “The Michael J. Fox Foundation has led the charge in advancing ground-breaking research in this field over the past twenty years,” says Griffin. “I hope this partnership with the Foundation will bring us closer to a cure for the millions of people living with Parkinson’s disease.”

The Ken Griffin Alpha-synuclein Imaging Competition is structured to drive independent scientific teams to race to develop a tracer compound to selectively bind to alpha-synuclein and illuminate its volume and location on a brain scan. Of the estimated 6 million people worldwide who live with Parkinson’s disease (PD), nearly all have clumps of the alpha-synuclein protein in the brain. Scientists believe this clumping harms cells and results in symptoms of the disease. These clumps are visible only through post-mortem tissue analysis. This is a foremost challenge in diagnosing the disease and monitoring its progression. The ability to visualize alpha-synuclein in the living brain would open entirely new avenues in PD research and care.

“Providing researchers and clinicians with the ability to detect and monitor disease would be revolutionary for the field and, most importantly, for patients,” says MJFF CEO Todd Sherer, PhD. “Ken Griffin’s gift invigorates research toward this important tool, which will make a meaningful impact in the lives of everyone touched by Parkinson’s.”

The Michael J. Fox Foundation is committed to fulfilling the most pressing needs in Parkinson’s research and to developing scientific resources with the greatest potential for people who live with the disease. For many years, the Foundation has funded independent studies and organized a consortium toward an alpha-synuclein imaging agent. In 2016, MJFF announced a $2-million prize for the first team to show clinical evidence of a tracer and make it available to the research community at large. While the pursuit continues, on October 15 at the Foundation’s 2019 PD Therapeutics Conference, biotechnology company AC Immune will share results from its MJFF-funded tracer trial.

The Ken Griffin Alpha-synuclein Imaging Competition is open now and accepting applications with the expectation of funding a total of $8.5 million to as many as three winning research teams. The team that progresses furthest in two years or less will be awarded an additional $1.5 million to continue the work and bring this game-changing tool to life. Prospective research teams can apply 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 $850 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 us on the web, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Media Contact:
Allison Boiles
The Michael J. Fox Foundation

We use cookies to ensure that you get the best experience. By continuing to use this website, you indicate that you have read our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.