Fellowship Program Building a Workforce of Parkinson's Disease Care and Research Specialists
The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, in collaboration with its longtime supporter and partner The Edmond J. Safra Foundation, announces The Edmond J. Safra Fellowship in Movement Disorders. By increasing resources for specialized training for clinician-researcher neurologists, the program aims to grow the global base of movement disorder specialists treating people with Parkinson's disease (PD) and contributing to research toward breakthrough treatments for the disease.
"Lily Safra has long shown tremendous compassion to people living with disease, both through her personal generosity and the activities of The Edmond J. Safra Foundation," said Michael J. Fox. "We're grateful to be working together to increase the number of highly specialized neurologists who can help patients live better with PD and speed progress toward a cure."
Mrs. Lily Safra, Chairwoman of The Edmond J. Safra Foundation, said: "The talented young clinician-researchers who will be chosen as Edmond J. Safra Fellows represent great hope for all of us, and I am so proud to be supporting them at the beginning of what will certainly be stellar careers full of groundbreaking achievements. With The Michael J. Fox Foundation's leadership, this initiative will surely make a profound impact on both research and patient care in the years to come."
Todd Sherer, PhD, CEO of The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF), added: "This program holds potential to benefit not only the five million Parkinson's patients and families worldwide, but also the millions more living with essential tremor, dystonia and other movement disorders. Clinician-researchers are an important bridge between positive patient outcomes in the care setting and scientific advances in the lab."
A lack of available funding for fellowships currently limits 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.
"Unfortunately, more people want to enter the field than there is funding to allow. Many fellows are unable to specialize in an area that is only going to grow in demand," said Matthew B. Stern, MD, director of the Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Center at the University of Pennsylvania Health System and president of the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society (IPMDS).
The Edmond J. Safra Fellowship in Movement Disorders is launching as a pilot program, supporting up to five new fellows a year for two years. Fellowships will be granted to multiple centers in each round of funding. Interested movement disorder centers may submit applications to MJFF through January 28, 2015.
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 also will be researchers, designing and conducting 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 also 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.
"Parkinson's research and care is a two-way street, with ideas and techniques flowing from each to inform the other. Movement disorder specialists are the streets, sharing insights from the bench to the bedside and back," said Stern.
Dedication to Parkinson's Care and Research
Founded by the late banker and philanthropist Edmond J. Safra, his namesake Foundation has long supported Parkinson's disease care and research. Mr. Safra is survived by his wife, Lily Safra, who has been a member of MJFF's Board of Directors since 2001 and serves as chairwoman of The Edmond J. Safra Foundation.
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 through The Edmond J. Safra Core Programs for PD Research, one of MJFF's central grantmaking programs to support high-impact Parkinson's research projects.
For More Information
MJFF will hold a conference call on January 7, 2015 to explain the goals of this initiative in greater detail and answer applicant questions. Fellowship and sponsored programs administrators at movement disorder centers are encouraged to take part (as are members of neurology departments). To receive call-in details, RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.