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Michael J. Fox Foundation Launches $10,000 Parkinson's Data Challenge

NEW YORK, NY - The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) is launching a $10,000 research challenge to spur ideas for using patient data, collected using smartphones, in Parkinson's disease (PD) monitoring and treatment.

"Our Foundation is committed to developing opportunities for patients to contribute data about the real experience of Parkinson's disease, which researchers can leverage in pursuit of a cure," said Maurizio Facheris, MD, MSc, associate director of research programs at MJFF. "Many symptoms of Parkinson's disease can be simply and objectively measured with smartphones. We have such a data set and we're challenging the research community to help us put it to use."

Mobile phones are some of the most pervasive types of monitoring devices, with smartphones carrying basic sensors that can be used to measure and monitor many features of PD to give a window into a patient's life. Researchers, collaborating entrepreneurs and industry experts at Gecko Ventures and MIT have developed a basic collection application, and collected data from a group of Parkinson's patients and control subjects.

Now MJFF is challenging research teams to develop the best way to benefit patients and clinicians through analysis of these objective, passively collected data points. The provided data could, for example, be used to distinguish PD patients from control subjects or to quantify PD symptoms in a way that could enable the measurement of disease progression. Any meaningful use of the data to improve diagnosis, treatment or therapeutic development in Parkinson's is eligible for entry.

Submissions, Evaluation and Prizes

Researchers should use the data set as a means for monitoring and measuring the progression, stage, and/or behavior of patients with PD and distinguish them from control subjects. Submissions will be judged based on how well they answer the following questions:

  • Can the data help distinguish PD patients from control subjects?
  • Can the data help measure the progression, change and/or variability of symptoms in PD subjects?
  • Can the data be used in other creative ways to inform patient treatment, care and/or quality of life?
  • Do the analyses and proposed uses of the data use innovative approaches and methods?

A grand prize of $10,000 will be awarded to the team judged to have the most impactful use of the data. The winning team will also have the opportunity to present their findings at an MJFF-sponsored event.

Interested participants can view official contest rules and register at The deadline for submissions is March 26, 2013.

Challenge Team

The Challenge data was compiled by Daniel Vannoni, an entrepreneur with Gecko Ventures, and his brother Alex Vannoni, a strategist focused on health and wellness, in partnership with Max Little, PhD, an MIT/Wellcome Trust fellow who is currently working to develop methods for detecting PD from voice recordings. The contest is being hosted on Kaggle.

"Our hope is by taking a cross-disciplinary approach, and collecting and analyzing multiple streams of data in a way that is easy and simple to collect from PD patients, we will discover greater insights into the condition and the effectiveness of treatments, and inspire new approaches to finding treatments and a cure for Parkinson's disease," said Daniel Vannoni.

The judging team includes:

  • Alexandra Carmichael -- Co-Founder of CureTogether and Director of Quantified Self
  • Karl E. Case -- Professor of Economics Emeritus at Wellesley College and Co-Creator of the S&P Case Shiller Index
  • Maurizio Facheris -- Associate Director, Research Programs at the Michael J. Fox Foundation
  • Ken Kubota -- Director, Kinetics Foundation
  • Daniel Vannoni -- Entrepreneur and Managing Director, Gecko Ventures
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