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The Michael J. Fox Foundation Announces Research Fellowships

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) today announced the creation of The Michael J. Fox Foundation Research Fellowship program, designed to encourage promising young scientists and clinicians to enter the field of Parkinson’s research.  The $1.2 million program provides a two-year fellowship awarded on a competitive basis at nine leading research institutions in North America.

“With Parkinson’s disease research now gaining momentum, the Foundation’s Fellowship program will help build the bench strength needed to quickly find a cure,” said Michael J. Fox.

“This program is a logical complement to our aggressive research funding strategy,” said Deborah W. Brooks, executive director. “The Michael J. Fox Foundation fellowship program is designed to help attract excellent young scientists and clinicians to cutting-edge Parkinson’s disease research efforts. In addition, the program will provide the Fellows with the mentoring and collaborative opportunities critical to the early stage of their careers.”  Ms. Brooks noted that each Fellow would work under the guidance of a member of the Foundation’s Science Advisory Board, comprised of leading researchers in various aspects of Parkinson’s disease.

The fellowship initiative is one element of MJFF’s broad research agenda to eliminate Parkinson’s disease within the decade, given the proper funding. To date, the Fox Foundation has funded or directed more than $17 million in Parkinson’s disease research. An additional $8 million in three research programs is scheduled to be funded by the end of the year.

The following institutions currently are seeking applicants for their Michael J. Fox Foundation research fellowships:

  • The Institute for Neurodegenerative Disorders. A research fellowship in brain imaging for Parkinson’s disease, under the direction of Kenneth L. Marek, president and senior scientist.
  • The Parkinson’s Institute. A basic research fellowship under the direction of J. William Langston, MD, scientific director and chief executive officer, and colleagues. A second fellowship providing experience in epidemiologic research methods under the direction of Caroline M. Tanner, MD, PhD, director of clinical research.
  • Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center. A research fellowship under the direction of Jeffrey H. Kordower, PhD, professor of Neurological Sciences and director of the Research Center for Brain Repair.
  • Stanford University, Department of Neurosurgery. Fellowship in stem cell biology under the direction of Theo D. Palmer, PhD, assistant professor of neurology.
  • University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine.  Research fellowship under the direction of Clifford W. Schults, MD, focusing on the processes leading to neuronal death in Parkinson’s disease and developing interventions in these pathogenic processes.
  • University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.  Research fellowship available under the direction of Michael J. Zigmond, PhD, co-director of the National Parkinson Foundation Center of Excellence and associate director for research of the Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegenerative Disorders.
  • University of Toronto, Toronto Western Hospital. Fellowship for physicians and post-doctoral scientists to train in functional neurosurgery and research in Parkinson’s disease under the direction of Andres M. Lozano, MD, PhD, head of applied and interventional research.

The following institutions have already named their research fellows.  They are:

  • Columbia University, College of Physicians & Surgeons, Department of Neurology. Robert Silva, PhD, has been named the first Michael J. Fox Foundation Research Fellow.  Dr. Silva will work under the direction of Robert E. Burke, MD, director of laboratory research in Parkinson’s disease and related disorders. Dr. Silva will study programmed cell death of dopamine neurons, examining the role of the c-jun kinase (JNK) signaling pathway. Dr. Silva received his BA degree from Boston University and a PhD degree from The City University of New York.
  • Emory University School of Medicine. Todd Sherer, PhD, has been named the first Michael J. Fox Research Fellow at the Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases.  Dr. Sherer will work under the direction of J. Timothy Greenamyre, MD, PhD, to study models of environmentally induced Parkinson’s disease and mechanisms of cell death. Dr. Sherer received a B.S. degree in psychology from Duke University and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from The University of Virginia.
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