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The Michael J. Fox Foundation Announces Six Academic Centers Chosen for 2017-2019 Edmond J. Safra Fellowship in Movement Disorders

NEW YORK (March 28, 2016) -- The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, in collaboration with its longtime supporter and partner the Edmond J. Safra Foundation, has selected six academic centers in the United States and Germany to host the second class of the Edmond J. Safra Fellowship in Movement Disorders.

The six centers selected for the 2017-2019 Edmond J. Safra Fellowship in Movement Disorders class are:

  • Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York
  • University of California San Francisco
  • Rush University in Chicago
  • University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia
  • University of Rochester in Rochester, New York
  • University of Tübingen in Germany

By increasing resources for specialized training for clinician-researcher neurologists, this 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.

"This program is designed to give people with Parkinson's the best possible care," said Mrs. Lily Safra, chairwoman of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation. "These prestigious institutions provide fellows with expert training in the field of movement disorders, thus increasing the number of specialty physicians available to people with Parkinson's disease."

"This program trains knowledgeable specialists who provide day-to-day care to people with Parkinson's and conduct research to speed the development of new treatments," said Todd Sherer, PhD, CEO of The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF). "There is a pressing need for both those sides of service as our population grows and more people age into risk of Parkinson's disease."

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 chose the six centers. Five of the six centers will now identify a fellow to begin two years of training in July 2017. The University of Tübingen has identified a fellow to begin later in 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.

"We're grateful to Lily Safra and the Edmond J. Safra Foundation for their vision in seeding the pipeline of future specialists in the treatment of Parkinson's disease," said Michael J. Fox. "It was gratifying to see clinicians and researchers respond with enthusiasm when the program launched last year — we can't wait to see what the future may hold."

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. Mrs. Safra, Chairwoman of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation, has been an MJFF Board member since 2001.

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. The fellowship is the latest among many partnerships between the Edmond J. Safra Foundation and 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.

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