NEW YORK (November 18, 2019) -- The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF) has awarded the 2019 Robert A. Pritzker Prize for Leadership in Parkinson's Research to Andrew Singleton, PhD, NIH (National Institutes of Health) Distinguished Investigator. The Prize recognizes researchers who make exceptional contributions to Parkinson's research and are committed to mentoring the next generation of Parkinson's scientists.
“Dr. Singleton’s work has changed how we think about the causes and contributors to Parkinson’s disease," said MJFF CEO Todd Sherer, PhD. "His discoveries in Parkinson’s genetics have identified novel targets that today are the basis for transformative treatments in human testing, and his dedication to collaboration and training a new generation of geneticists is laying the groundwork for future breakthroughs.”
Sherer and Michael J. Fox presented the prize to Singleton at a Foundation event in New York City on November 16, 2019.
Singleton studies the genetic basis of neurological disorders to identify genetic variability that causes or contributes to disease and to understand the molecular processes underlying disease. Singleton’s group has discovered several genetic mutations associated with Parkinson’s disease, including the alpha-synuclein multiplication mutation and mutations in the LRRK2 gene. Today there are 11 therapies against alpha-synuclein dysfunction and three targeting LRRK2 in clinical trials.
Singleton is Chief of the Laboratory of Neurogenetics at the National Institute on Aging, part of the NIH. Over the last several years, his team has worked to understand how common genetic changes influence disease; collectively, they have identified 90 genetic risk factors for Parkinson’s disease. Included in that analysis is data from MJFF’s flagship Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative, for which Singleton leads the Genetics Study Core.
The Robert A. Pritzker Prize for Leadership in Parkinson's Research, awarded annually by MJFF since 2011, was established by Karen Pritzker, daughter of Robert A. Pritzker, and her late husband, investor Michael Vlock. Their gift provides a $100,000 research grant to the Pritzker Prize winner each year, and Pritzker and Vlock have been generous donors to MJFF.
“I’m incredibly honored to be the recipient of the 2019 Robert A. Pritzker Prize. A mentor of mine, Dr. John Hardy, was recipient of the award in 2015, and I can only hope that one of my mentees down the line will be a winner and that I'll have played some small role in that,” said Singleton. In the spirit on the award’s emphasis on mentorship, he plans to use the grant to sponsor a student in his laboratory.
About the Robert A. Pritzker Prize for Leadership in Parkinson's Research
The Robert A. Pritzker Prize for Leadership in Parkinson's Research is named in honor of the late Robert A. Pritzker, a renowned industrialist, entrepreneur and philanthropist. Pritzker was founder of The Marmon Group and president of Colson Associates, Inc., holding companies for a variety of manufacturing and medical businesses. Additionally, he was an early promoter of the field of medical engineering at his alma mater, the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago, where he also played a key role in expanding the biomedical research community through his support of The Pritzker Institute for Biomedical Science and Engineering at IIT.
The MJFF Scientific Advisory Board serves as the jury panel. Selection criteria include the nominee's complete body of work in the PD field with an emphasis on its impact on accelerating drug development; field-wide impact of the nominee's work; dedication to patient-relevant science; and influence on and encouragement of the next generation of PD investigators.
The award itself is designed by renowned artist and Parkinson's patient Tom Shannon.
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 $900 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.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation