- With an estimated 6 million people worldwide currently living with Parkinson’s, and the disease prevalence expected to double by 2040, the need for more movement disorder specialists to provide expert care and lead research is pressing
- Fellowship expands funding to train eight new movement disorder clinician-researchers per class, with the program on track to graduate 48 specialists around the world by the year 2025
- Six fellows graduated in June 2020, demonstrating flexibility and continued commitment to support patients and families during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic
NEW YORK (August 4, 2020) — 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 care for people with Parkinson’s today and for generations to come, while leading research into patients’ most urgent unmet needs. Launched in 2014, The Edmond J. Safra Fellowship in Movement Disorders annually awards funding to top-tier medical centers around the world to train physicians to become movement disorder specialists — experts in treating people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and other movement disorders. Through funding from the Edmond J. Safra Foundation, the Fellowship now will graduate three additional fellows each year, for a total of eight in each class, beginning with the graduating Class of 2024. With this expansion, the program is on track to graduate 48 new specialists by the year 2025.
“The Edmond J. Safra Fellowship in Movement Disorders is ushering in a new generation of urgently needed, remarkably talented Parkinson’s care and research specialists,” says Todd Sherer, PhD, MJFF CEO. “The commitment and passion of the graduates and their mentors is serving the growing Parkinson’s patient population and the pursuit for cures and better treatments. We are honored that our partner the Edmond J. Safra Foundation continues to support this impactful program.”
Class of 2020 Adapts Care and Research during Unprecedented Time
While the COVID-19 pandemic impacted care, research and many other health-related activities, the Edmond J. Safra fellows and mentors evolved to continue learning, caring for people with Parkinson’s and other movement disorders, and moving research forward. Fellows connected with colleagues virtually, provided care through telemedicine, and conducted or expanded online studies. Looking for the benefits of this moment, Erik Jackowiak, MD, Class of 2020 fellow at the University of Michigan says, “Overall, there has been a shift…but it’s been a good experience to engage in telemedicine, as this will likely become more common in health care in the future.”
The Class of 2020 becomes the third Edmond J. Safra Fellowship class to complete training and begin prestigious careers around the world, where each physician now continues patient care and research. The graduating Class of 2020 includes:
- Juliana Coleman, MD
Fellowship Site: University of Alabama at Birmingham; Birmingham, Alabama
Juliana will remain at the University of Alabama at Birmingham as an instructor at the department of neurology.
- Grace Crotty, MB BCh BAO MRCPI
Fellowship Site: Massachusetts General Hospital; Boston, Massachusetts
Grace will join Harvard Medical School as an instructor of neurology.
- Eric Jackowiak, MD
Fellowship Site: University of Michigan; Ann Arbor, Michigan
Eric has taken a position as clinical assistant professor in neurology at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Milwaukee VA Medical Center.
- Greg Kuhlman, MD, MBA
Fellowship Site: Toronto Western Hospital; Ontario, Canada
Greg will become an assistant professor in the Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Cincinnati.
- Kimberly Kwei, MD, PhD
Fellowship Site: Columbia University Medical Center; New York, New York
Kimberly will stay at Columbia University as an assistant professor in the movement disorders division.
- Anne Weissbach, MD
Fellowship Site: University of Lübeck; Lübeck, Germany
Anne will join the Movement Disorders Unit at the Institute of Neurogenetics in Lübeck as a Junior Group Leader.
Building a Distinguished Global Network of Parkinson’s Clinician-Researchers
Movement disorder specialists — expertly trained neurologists with additional training in PD and other movement disorders — can balance complicated medication regimens, integrate the latest therapies, and round out a person’s care team with other experts to provide holistic care. When also skilled as researchers, movement disorder specialists can use insights from the clinic to inform studies on what causes PD, why and how it progresses, and how to best treat symptoms and slow disease. People with Parkinson’s who see specialists typically report feeling more informed and better equipped to manage their disease. But there is a growing gap between the number of movement disorder specialists and people with Parkinson’s who benefit from their expert care — an estimated 6 million people around the world, a number that is expected to double by the year 2040.
“Increasing the number of movement disorder specialists who can care for patients and lead research studies benefits not only individual patients and families, but also the entire Parkinson’s community,” said Lily Safra, chairwoman of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation and MJFF Board member 2001. “The growth and success of The Edmond J. Safra Fellowship in Movement Disorders is a testament to the ongoing and rising need for Parkinson’s specialists around the world.”
The Fellowship extends across 21 world-renowned training institutions in seven countries. In the most recent round of funding, a review committee comprised of MJFF staff, external reviewers and Edmond J. Safra Fellowship alumni selected five centers from a competitive pool of applicants to train the Class of 2023: Fleni Hospital in Buenos Aires, Argentina; McGill University/Montreal Neurological Institute in Montreal, Canada; Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, New York; the Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases at University of Florida Health in Gainesville, Florida; and Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, France. Each awardee now will match a qualified candidate to begin training in summer 2021.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation is accepting applications from academic centers worldwide to train the Class of 2024 Edmond J. Safra Fellows. A review committee will evaluate applicants on their history training successful movement disorder clinician-researchers; the breadth and depth of clinical care and research education and opportunities; departmental support for the fellow; and — new this year — training programs and opportunities that equip fellows with the skills and knowledge to advance equitable access and diversity across clinical care services, research, education and community outreach. The deadline to apply is December 10, 2020. 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 $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.
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.
For more information, visit www.edmondjsafra.org.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation