Skip to main content

The Michael J. Fox Foundation "Fast Tracks" $4 Million into Broad Range of Parkinson's Research Projects

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) has awarded approximately $4 million dollars in research grants in its annual Fast Track research initiative.  Today the Foundation officially named 20 projects to be funded as part of the Fast Track 2002 investigator-initiated program, designed to stimulate novel, innovative and high-impact approaches to the field of Parkinson’s research.

Grant recipients were chosen from a large pool of international applications submitted by scientists from a myriad of disciplines.  MJFF awarded scientists from six different countries.  One of the review committee’s strategies for choosing projects was to accurately reflect the existing range of PD research from basic disease research to the advancement of patient-ready therapies.  This year’s awards comprise a comprehensive portfolio reflecting a wide span of research topics including genetic studies, and neuroprotective and restorative strategies for treatment. 

“Fast Track continues to allow the Fox Foundation to speed research funds to a broad array of novel Parkinson’s research projects,” explained Deborah W. Brooks, executive director. “By soliciting diverse projects from researchers worldwide, we are able to identify and foster cutting-edge projects, as well as cultivate promising researchers in the field.”

Grants in the Fast Track 2002 portfolio that approach PD from a basic cellular level include two studies on dyskinesias, the involuntary, uncontrollable movements that often result as a common side effect of long-term treatment with Parkinson’s medication.  Recognizing the importance of potential genetic influences, the Fox Foundation has made three grants to genetic research, including a project that aims to characterize the function of the newly discovered DJ-1 gene in detail and study how mutations in this gene can lead to parkinsonism.  An additional seven grants will study potential neuroprotective agents.

“Many of the projects we have chosen to fund are exciting not only because they will advance our understanding of the disease but also because they are positioned to quickly translate into clinical studies based on success of their final outcomes,” stated Dr. William Langston, chief scientific advisor to MJFF and the CEO of The Parkinson’s Institute.

Two such projects in particular stand out for their patient-ready approach.  One will use patient data to study the neuroprotective benefits of non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) such as aspirin and other common over-the-counter drugs, which have been found to protect dopaminergic neurons in animal models of Parkinson’s disease.  Another explores the potential therapeutic effects of testosterone replacement therapy on non-motor symptoms in male Parkinson’s disease patients.  Both of these studies will collect data directly from patients and strive to establish clear benefits for PD patients by assessing pre-existing therapies typically used in other contexts.  This approach creates an accelerated timeframe in which positive results could quickly result in preventive treatments and patient therapies.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research is pleased to announce the following grant awards for Fast Track 2002:

Asa Abeliovich, MD, PhD
New York, NY
Project Title: “Parkinson’s and the Regulation of Neuronal Survival” 

Alberto Ascherio, MD, PhD
HarvardSchool of Public Health
Boston, MA
Project Title: “Prospective study of Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs and Risk of PD

Erwan Bezard, PhD                           
Université Victor Segalen-Bordeaux 2          
Bordeaux, France
Project Title: “Levodopa-induced Dyskinesias Result from Dysregulation of Intraneuronal Trafficking of Dopamine Receptors” 

J.P. Bolam, PhD
University of Oxford
Oxford, United Kingdom
Project Title: “Alterations of the Distribution and of the Subunit Composition of the N-methyl-D-aspartate Receptors in the Basal Ganglia of the Parkinsonian Rat” 

Daniel Chase, PhD
YaleUniversitySchool of Medicine
New Haven, CT
Project Title: “Identification of Novel Dopamine Signaling Components Using C. Elegans Genetic Analysis

Richard L. Davis, MD, PhD
Syracuse, NY
Project Title: “Comparative Gene Expression Analysis of the Brain in Parkinson’s Disease and in the Familial Encephalopathy with Neurosepin Incusion Bodies (FENIB):  Implications for Pathogenesis

David T. Dexter, PhD
ImperialCollege of Science
London, United Kingdom
Project Title: “Further Evaluation of the Neuroprotective Effects of Citrus Flavenoid Tangeretin in a Rat Model of PD

Gilberto Fisone, PhD                          Angela Cenci-Nilsson, MD, PhD
Karolinska Institute                           LundUniversity
Stockholm, Sweden                           Lund, Sweden
Project Title: “Dyskinesia & Abnormal Regulation of DARP-32

Christian Haass, PhD
LudwigMaximiliansUniversity of Munich
Munich, Germany
Project Title: “Prevention and Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease Pathology in a-Synuclein Transgenic Mice

Peter Heutink, PhD 
Vrije Universiteit
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Project Title: “The Role of the DJ-1 Gene in Early Onset Recessive Parkinson’s Disease

Dieter Jaeger, PhD
Atlanta, GA
Project Title: “Dynamical Interactions Between Basal Ganglia Structures and Cerebral Cortex: an in Vivo Multi-site Recording Study” 

Seung-Jae Lee, PhD
The Parkinson’s Institute
Sunnyvale, CA
Project Title: “Study of the Metabolism and Aggregation of Alpha-synuclein in Parkin-depleted Neuronal Cells” 

Yong-Jian Liu, MD
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA
Project Title: “A Transgenic Model for Intraneuronal Oxidative Stress” 

Richard Nass, PhD
Nashville, TN
Project Title: “High Throughout Drug Screening for Protection Against DA Neuron Degeneration

Michael Okun, MD
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL
Project Title: “Testosterone Therapy in Parkinson’s Disease” 

Amanda D. Smith, PhD
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA
Project Title: “Signaling Cascades Underlying Use-dependent Neuroprotection in Parkinsonism” 

Motonari Uesugi, PhD
BaylorCollege of Medicine
Houston, TX
Project Title: “Differentiation Catalysts for the Production of Dopaminergic Neurons

Pilot Grants
Jeffrey N. Joyce, PhD
Sun Health Research Institute
Sun City, AZ
Project Title: “DA Agonist Neuroprotection via AKT Pathway in MPTP Mouse Model of Parkinson’s

Richard Voellmy, PhD
University of Miami, School of Medicine
Miami, FL
Project Title “Mouse Model for Pharmacological Upregulation of Molecular Chaperones

The Fast Track program is one element of the Foundation’s research agenda to eliminate Parkinson’s disease within the decade.  At the end of 2002, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research funded more than $17 million in research aimed at finding a cure for the disease.  In addition, the Foundation partnered with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on their funding of an incremental $9.5 million in “Fast Track” research projects. In all, The Michael J. Fox Foundation has stimulated nearly $27 million in new funding for Parkinson’s disease research.

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.