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The Michael J. Fox Foundation Announces Five Academic Centers Chosen for 2016 Edmond J. Safra Fellowships in Movement Disorders

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, in collaboration with its longtime supporter and partner The Edmond J. Safra Foundation, has selected four academic centers in the United States and one in Canada to host the inaugural class of the Edmond J. Safra Fellowship in Movement Disorders.

The five centers selected for the 2016-2018 Edmond J. Safra Fellowship in Movement Disorders class are:

  • Columbia University Medical Center in New York
  • Emory University in Atlanta
  • Northwestern University in Chicago
  • Toronto Western Hospital in Ontario, Canada
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham

By increasing resources for specialized training for clinician-researcher neurologists, this new program aims to grow the global base of movement disorder specialists treating people with Parkinson’s and contributing to research toward breakthrough treatments for the disease.

“People with Parkinson’s disease are the true beneficiaries of this program,” said Mrs. Lily Safra, chairwoman of The Edmond J. Safra Foundation. “These prestigious institutions are equipped to offer fellows the training and experience that will help them better serve their Parkinson’s patients.”

“As our population ages, the number of people with Parkinson’s grows,” said Todd Sherer, PhD, CEO of The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF). “So, too, grows the need for therapies to slow or stop disease progression and to better treat the varied symptoms. This program will train specialists who can not only provide optimal care to Parkinson’s patients but also conduct research to speed the development of new treatments.”

A lack of available funding for fellowships historically has limited the number of openings in movement disorder specialist training programs, including programs at medical centers with the required expertise to train the next generation of specialists.

A committee of advisors selected by MJFF selected the five centers. Each center will now identify a fellow to begin two years of training in July 2016.

Impact of Clinician-Researchers Specializing in Movement Disorders
In addition to delivering expert care to individual patients, clinician-researcher movement disorder specialists improve the landscape of Parkinson’s care overall. The clinicians trained through The Edmond J. Safra Fellowship in Movement Disorders will design and conduct studies with their patients’ unmet needs in mind. From the front lines, they are poised to observe trends and nuances of the patient experience that can lead to investigations toward greater understanding of disease and open new avenues to better therapies. 

Patients are specialists’ greatest partners in research. These doctors are aware of (and often leaders of) ongoing clinical trials and research studies, putting them in a position to educate their patients about participating in research — a powerful opportunity to be part of the quest for a cure.

“Seeing a movement disorder specialist is one of the most important steps a person with Parkinson’s can take,” said Michael J. Fox. “Lily Safra and The Edmond J. Safra Foundation are making it possible to train more of these doctors, and we’re grateful for their partnership in addressing this patient need.” 

Dedication to Parkinson’s Care and Research
The late banker and philanthropist Edmond J. Safra’s namesake Foundation has long made Parkinson’s disease care and research one of its top priorities. Mr. Safra is survived by his wife, Lily Safra, who has been a member of MJFF’s Board of Directors since 2001 and serves as chairwoman of The Edmond J. Safra Foundation.

In addition to generous gifts to centers and programs providing direct care to people with Parkinson’s disease, Lily Safra and her Foundation have driven vital scientific investigation into new treatments through. This program is the latest in many as part of a longstanding partnership with MJFF, including The Edmond J. Safra Core Programs for PD Research, one of MJFF’s central grantmaking avenues to support high-impact Parkinson’s research projects. 

An Ongoing Commitment
In early June, MJFF will begin accepting applications for the second (2017-2019) Edmond J. Safra Fellowship in Movement Disorders class. Visit to learn more about open MJFF funding programs.

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