NEW YORK (November 15, 2016) -- The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF) has conferred the 2016 Robert A. Pritzker Prize for Leadership in Parkinson's Research to Ira Shoulson, MD, professor of neurology, pharmacology and human science and director of the Program for Regulatory Science and Medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center. The Prize recognizes researchers who make exceptional contributions to Parkinson's research and exhibit a commitment to mentoring the next generation of Parkinson's scientists.
"Dr. Shoulson has played an integral role in establishing standards for multicenter clinical trials in movement disorders that advance new treatments and aim to improve quality of life for the millions living with Parkinson's disease," said MJFF CEO Todd Sherer, PhD. "In addition, his attention to regulatory science builds a foundation for patient-first evaluation and swift approval of new therapies."
Michael J. Fox and MJFF senior vice president of research programs Brian Fiske, PhD, presented the Prize to Dr. Shoulson at a ceremony in New York City on November 12, 2016.
A leader in the fields of Huntington's and Parkinson's disease research, he co-founded the Parkinson Study Group in 1985 and the Huntington Study Group in 1994, two international academic consortia devoted to research and development of treatments, including seven new approved treatments for Parkinson's disease. In addition to his extensive work overseeing major clinical trials, Dr. Shoulson has made key contributions to regulatory science and medicine and was formerly a Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation health policy fellow in the U.S. Senate. He has trained several scientists who also have gone on to become prominent leaders in Parkinson's research. Learn more about his contributions in a video on our website.
The Robert A. Pritzker Prize for Leadership in Parkinson's Research has been awarded annually by MJFF since 2011 and is made possible by Karen Pritzker, daughter of Robert A. Pritzker, and her husband, investor Michael Vlock. Their gift provides a $100,000 grant to the Pritzker Prize recipient each year, and Pritzker and Vlock have been generous donors to MJFF.
Dr. Shoulson will direct his grant to advance research on Parkinson's patient-reported outcomes and patient preferences. With the aim of strengthening the patient voice in the Food and Drug Administration therapeutics approval process and utilizing MJFF's online observational study, Fox Insight, he will systematically assess the experience of patients and families with Parkinson's disease using natural language processing and other digital techniques.
"I am honored to receive the Robert A. Pritzker Prize and glad it will serve this important work to integrate patient feedback into therapeutic trials and approval processes," said Dr. Shoulson. "As researchers, we strive to bring clinical meaningfulness to the development of new treatments that make a difference for our patients and enable them to live healthier and more robust lives."
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 Executive 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 $650 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.