NEW YORK, February 27, 2020 — The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) announced the appointment of Skip Irving as chairman of its Board of Directors. Irving’s 30-year track record of leadership in the biopharmaceutical industry, including structuring innovative partnerships between nonprofits and drug companies, has been instrumental to the Foundation’s strategy to deepen industry engagement and investment in Parkinson’s therapeutic development.
“Skip’s vision, deep knowledge and expertise have enabled MJFF to pioneer new models for nonprofits working with industry,” said Todd Sherer, CEO of MJFF. “The scale and scope of industry investment in Parkinson’s today are unrecognizable from just a few short years ago. We are fortunate to benefit from Skip’s counsel and support as Chairman at this vital moment for commercialization of the PD pipeline.”
Irving joined MJFF’s Board of Directors in 2007 and was appointed vice chairman in March 2018, also serving as chair of the research committee from 2008 to 2019. During this period, the Foundation’s strategic leadership and hundreds of millions in research funding helped to transform critical research priorities in Parkinson’s drug development. In 2010, the Foundation launched its landmark clinical study the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), now active in 33 clinical sites around the world with 1500 patient and control volunteers, accelerating development of biomarkers for Parkinson’s. Three key genetic targets have advanced from pre-clinical investigation to clinical testing in human studies. 14 new treatments for motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s have received FDA approval since 2014.
MJFF also has a proven track record of effectively partnering with companies large and small on top priorities in Parkinson’s research, with hundreds of industry collaborations since 2000. These include integrating industry input and support into key fieldwide challenges, de-risking priority therapeutic targets, joining forces on novel one-off collaborations, and harnessing the power of emerging technology to speed knowledge turns toward urgently needed outcomes. As just one example, PPMI is funded by a public-private consortium including 28 biotech and pharmaceutical companies.
“We are proud of the achievements we’ve made so far and look forward to continuing the momentum we have built in accelerating Parkinson’s research and drug development,” said Irving. “I am fortunate to be working with an impressive group of passionate, dedicated professionals seeking to dramatically improve the lives of Parkinson’s patients.”
In addition to guiding the Foundation’s industry strategy, Irving also has been an avid supporter of Team Fox, the Foundation’s grassroots fundraising community. Since 2012, he has participated as a fundraiser and then as a team captain for the New England Parkinson’s Ride — a community cycling event in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. To date, the Ride has raised a total of $5.8 million to date to benefit the Foundation’s research programs, with Irving’s fundraising contributing more than $90,000 so far.
Irving currently serves as an advisor with Red Sky Partners, LLC, a consultancy to the life sciences industry, and sits on the Board of ArunA Biomedical, Inc., a company developing a new class of therapeutics for the treatment of central nervous system disorders. He sits on the Board of Overseers for Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the College Corporation Board at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. He also serves as a trustee at the University of New England. A graduate of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Irving earned his MBA from the Tuck School at Dartmouth College.
Irving takes over the Board Chair seat from outgoing chairman Jeff Keefer, who now serves as vice chair. “Handing the baton over to Skip is an honor,” said Keefer. “Especially as someone living with the disease, I look forward to continuing to witness the growth and impact of the Foundation under his guiding counsel. His experience is exactly what can help usher the Foundation into its next critical chapter to realize its mission by curing Parkinson’s and closing its doors.”
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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. For more information, visit us on the Web, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation