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The Michael J. Fox Foundation’s Edmond J. Safra Fellowship in Movement Disorders Announces the 2019 Graduating Class

  • Five fellows become the second class of The Edmond J. Safra Fellowship in Movement Disorders to enter careers in Parkinson’s clinical care and research
  • Fellowship builds global base of movement disorder clinician-researchers
  • Program on track to graduate 26 new movement disorder specialists by the year 2022

NEW YORK (August 1, 2019) — The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF), in collaboration with longtime partner the Edmond J. Safra Foundation, is building a global base of movement disorder specialists to provide expert patient care and lead complementary research and drug development. Launched in 2014, The Edmond J. Safra Fellowship in Movement Disorders annually awards funding to top-tier medical centers worldwide to each train a new movement disorder specialist over a two-year period. The Class of 2019 becomes the second graduating class of the Fellowship to complete training and began prestigious movement disorders careers around the world. 

“The Edmond J. Safra Fellowship in Movement Disorders allows physicians to train with renowned movement disorder specialists and researchers at distinguished institutions across the world,” says Todd Sherer, PhD, MJFF CEO. “We are honored that this program continues to serve a critical need within the research and patient communities to support top notch care and Parkinson’s scientific advancements.”

Fulfilling Patient and Research Needs Worldwide  

Each Edmond J. Safra Fellow will use the knowledge and skills gained in fellowship to embark on a unique career path that combines patient care and research investigation, allowing them to serve as direct links between their patients and research toward improved Parkinson’s disease (PD) understanding and therapies.

Katherine Amodeo, MD
Fellowship Site: University of Rochester — Rochester, New York

Katherine will remain at the University of Rochester as assistant professor of neurology with a secondary appointment in psychiatry. There, she will provide clinical care to patients in both the movement disorders and memory care centers. She plans to continue research in Parkinson’s and is specifically interested in identifying risk factors for dementia. Katherine also will serve as a medical monitor for WATCH-PD, a study evaluating PD progression through digital sensor data collection.

Sarah Horn, MD
Fellowship Site: University of Pennsylvania — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Sarah will join the University of Texas Medical School in San Antonio as assistant professor of neurology. In her new position, Sarah will not only care for movement disorder patients and lead research, but also teach medical students, neurology residents and fellows the fundamentals of basal ganglia physiology and pharmacology, and the differential diagnosis and management of movement disorders. Sarah says, “Teaching has always been an integral part of my career. During my residency and fellowship training, I participated in numerous teaching opportunities, and I am enthusiastic about being able to practice and teach neurology in a way that is meaningful and contributes to patient care and the educational journey of medical students and neurology residents.”

Katherine Leaver, MD
Fellowship Site: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai — New York City, New York

Katherine will remain at Mount Sinai Beth Israel as a faculty member in the division of movement disorders, splitting her time between clinical and research activities. She will continue research projects investigating outcomes with the LRRK2 mutation in Parkinson’s disease and deep brain stimulation. Katherine also will serve as a co-investigator in the NIH-funded study of the oligogenic etiology of Parkinson’s disease in Ashkenazim.

Jessica Weinstein, MD
Fellowship Site: University of California, San Francisco — San Francisco, California

After one year of fellowship, Jessica took a position with Kaiser Permanente in Antioch, California and is working as the only trained movement disorder expert in a relatively rural and underserved area. Jessica says, “It’s amazing that I can provide this level of care, whether deep brain stimulation or Botox.” She adds, “I can see how excited patients are to be able to have access to that without having to commute into the city.”

Natalie Witek, MD
Fellowship Site: Rush University — Chicago, Illinois

Natalie will remain at Rush University as assistant professor in neurology in the movement disorders program. In this role, she will sub-specialize in immune-mediated movement disorders. Natalie says, “I hope to make The Michael J. Fox Foundation proud and plan to work tirelessly to identify a disease-modifying therapy for patients with Parkinson’s disease.”

Building the Global Base to Meet the Growing Need

Movement disorder specialists — neurologists with additional training in Parkinson’s and other movement disorders — can balance complicated medication regimens, integrate the latest therapies and round out a person’s care team with other experts. When also skilled as researchers, movement disorder specialists use insights from their patients to inform studies toward improved understanding of disease and treatments. People with Parkinson’s who see specialists typically report feeling more informed and better equipped to manage their disease.

But not everyone sees a movement disorder specialist, often because there aren’t enough of them, and this imbalance is growing. Currently, it is estimated there are 6 million people worldwide living with Parkinson’s, and recent studies show this number is projected to double by 2040.

The Edmond J. Safra Fellowship in Movement Disorders is bridging the gap in funding to train movement disorder specialists and build the global base of clinician-researchers. By the year 2022, the program is on track to graduate 26 new movement disorder specialists around the world.

“This year’s graduates embody the spirit and ultimate goal of The Edmond J. Safra Fellowship in Movement Disorders,” says Lily Safra, chairwoman of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation and member of the MJFF Board of Directors. “These skilled and passionate new movement disorder specialists will serve as an important bridge between the clinic and the research lab, providing high-quality patient care and advancing Parkinson’s breakthroughs.”

Watch a video about the Fellowship program.

A Passion for Speeding Parkinson’s Research and Care

Late banker and philanthropist Edmond J. Safra’s namesake foundation has long made Parkinson’s disease care and research top priorities. Mrs. Safra, chairwoman of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation, has been an MJFF Board member since 2001.

In addition to generous gifts to centers and programs providing direct care to people with Parkinson’s disease, Mrs. Safra and her foundation have driven vital scientific investigation into new treatments. The fellowship is the latest among many partnerships between the Edmond J. Safra Foundation and MJFF, including the Edmond J. Safra Core Programs for PD Research, which supports MJFF’s central grantmaking initiatives. 

Applications for the Class of 2023 Now Open

The Michael J. Fox Foundation is accepting applications from academic centers worldwide to train the Class of 2023 Edmond J. Safra Fellows. Deadline is December 13, 2019. Learn more and apply.


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 $800 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.

About the Edmond J. Safra Foundation

Edmond J. Safra, one of the 20th century’s most accomplished bankers and a devoted philanthropist, established a major philanthropic foundation to ensure that individuals and organizations would continue to receive his assistance and encouragement for many years to come. Under the chairmanship of his beloved wife Lily, the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation draws continuing inspiration from its founder’s life and values, and supports hundreds of organizations in more than 40 countries around the world. Its work encompasses four areas: Education; Science and Medicine; Religion; and Humanitarian Assistance, Culture and Social Welfare. The Foundation has provided significant funding for Parkinson’s disease research and patient care at dozens of hospitals and institutes in places as varied as Natal (Brazil), Toronto, New York, Grenoble, Paris, London and Jerusalem.

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Media Contact:

Kristina Magana
212-509-0995 ext. 437

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