The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF) today announced $6 million in two new research initiatives, both to be awarded and funded by year-end:
- $4 million in Fast Track 2002 grants. This is an investigator-initiated program that considers a broad range of research applications relevant to the cure, cause, prevention or improved treatment of Parkinson's disease. This annual program aims to stimulate novel, innovative and/or high-impact approaches to the field.
- $2 million in Protein Degradation grants. This program will study the role of protein degradation or "handling" in the process of neurodegeneration, a key underlying mechanism in Parkinson's disease.
"These programs are more evidence that Parkinson's disease research has reached a point of critical mass, where the momentum toward a cure becomes inevitable," said Michael J. Fox.
The $6 million in funding commitments comes on the heels of a $2 million initiative to develop or validate conclusive diagnostic tests, or "biomarkers," for Parkinson's disease, which is currently awaiting award determination. In addition, the Michael J. Fox Foundation has already funded or directed nearly $17 million in 57 Parkinson's disease research grants in the two years since its founding.
"With Fast Track 2002, we continue to cast our net broadly to identify high-quality, novel opportunities for Parkinson's research put forth by investigators worldwide," said J. William Langston, MD, scientific director of the Parkinson's Institute and chief scientific advisor to the MJFF. "In addition, we plan to hone in on the role of protein degradation, which promises to unlock the answers to one of the fundamental molecular questions of the disease mechanism. There is a growing body of evidence that protein aggregation is involved in a several neurodegenerative diseases. By proactively studying how to break down the harmful over-accumulation of those proteins, we are taking the science to the next logical level. We anticipate that the outcomes will have great relevance not only to Parkinson's disease but to Alzheimer's and ALS research as well."
The protein degradation initiative is a direct outcome of the ongoing series of strategic priority workshops that bring together the MJFF Scientific Advisory Board as well as other best-in-field experts to assess and recommend specific areas of inquiry where the Foundation can significantly advance the state of the science in Parkinson's disease research.
"These initiatives further demonstrate the breadth and depth of Parkinson's research opportunities as well as our passion to create streamlined programs that quickly and thoughtfully deliver much-needed resources to the field," said Deborah W. Brooks, MJFF executive director. Ms. Brooks noted that the MJFF remains committed to an aggressive approach to funding its dual-track research agenda as well as a streamlined application process and expedited granting mechanism for scientists.
The application deadline for the Fast Track 2002 program is October 11, 2002; while the application deadline for the protein degradation program is September 6, 2002.