- Since it began in 2014, The Edmond J. Safra Fellowship in Movement Disorders has trained 27 new movement disorder specialists around the world
- Through the transformative generosity and leadership of the late Mrs. Lily Safra, chairwoman of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation, the Fellowship is on track to graduate 72 new Parkinson’s clinician-researchers by 2028
- Launched in 2022, the inaugural “Edmond J. Safra Movement Disorders Research Career Development Awards” aim to support Fellowship alumni and sustain their contributions to Parkinson’s research beyond their fellowship
- With an estimated 6 million people worldwide living with Parkinson’s, and growing, the need to expand access to care and fuel research progress is critical for people and families impacted by disease
NEW YORK (September 20, 2022) — As part of its commitment to better care for people and families living with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and to speed critical research, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) — with support from longstanding partner the Edmond J. Safra Foundation — is expanding the number and reach of Parkinson’s clinician-researchers around the world. Since its launch in 2014, the Edmond J. Safra Fellowship in Movement Disorders annually funds medical centers to train the next generation of Parkinson’s doctors as clinician-researchers. These clinicians are movement disorder specialists, neurologists with additional training who can recognize distinct nuances of PD and tailor treatments to each patient.
For people with Parkinson’s, seeing a movement disorder specialist is key to living with the disease as best as possible. An estimated 6 million people worldwide have PD — this number is expected to double by 2040. The demand for specialists is increasing. A shortage of movement disorder specialists can bring challenges in seeking care including long appointment wait times and unreasonable travel distances. Through the commitment of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation, the Fellowship is making a tangible impact by growing the base of specialists worldwide — 27 new movement disorder specialists have graduated since the program launched in 2014. The program is now set to exponentially grow its impact in coming years by graduating 72 total new movement disorder specialists by 2028.
The Edmond J. Safra Fellowship is made possible through the transformative generosity and leadership of the late Mrs. Lily Safra, former chairwoman of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation and MJFF Board member. “This growing global network of expertly trained movement disorder specialists will help ensure that people and families living with Parkinson’s receive comprehensive and compassionate care and that critical research moves forward to meet their most pressing needs,” said Mrs. Safra in 2021 as she commented on the impact of the Fellowship. “I’m deeply proud of The Edmond J. Safra Fellowship’s significant impact on Parkinson’s care and research.”
“Through the unmatched generosity of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation and compassionate spirit of the late Mrs. Lily Safra, this Fellowship has paved a path for better access to care for millions of people and families living with Parkinson’s around the world,” said MJFF CEO and Co-Founder Deborah W. Brooks. “The Edmond J. Safra Fellows in training, alumni and directors are dedicated to the Parkinson’s community, and committed to accelerating PD research for all people impacted by the disease.”
Graduating Class of 2022 Deepens Fellowship’s Growing Impact
Now in its eighth year, the Edmond J. Safra Fellowship has matured into a renowned funding opportunity, a distinguished training pathway and a peer-to-peer network. The Class of 2022 is the Fellowship’s fifth graduating class, and as the network continues to grow, fellows continue to establish relationships with one another and fellowship directors.
The most recent graduates now take their next steps in careers caring for people with Parkinson’s and fueling research momentum around the world:
Aditya Boddu, MD
Fellowship Site: University of Alabama at Birmingham; Birmingham, Alabama
Aditya will join the University of Arkansas in Little Rock as an assistant professor of neurology, focused on patients with Parkinson’s and other movement disorders.
Conor Fearon, BE, MB, BCh, BAO, MRCPI, PhD
Fellowship Site: Toronto Western Hospital; Toronto, Canada
Conor will take a position as a consulting neurologist at the Dublin Neurological Institute in Dublin, Ireland where he will focus on academic and clinical work in movement disorders.
Eoin Mulroy, MB, BCh, BAO
Fellowship Site: UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology; London, England
Eoin will continue practicing clinical research and caring for patients at UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology as a neurologist.
Chintan Shah, MD
Fellowship Site: Baylor College of Medicine; Houston, Texas
Chintan will be joining Houston’s Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, a large, multi-specialty private practice, as the only movement disorder specialist.
Jon Toledo Atucha, MD, PhD
Fellowship Site: Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases at University of Florida Health; Gainesville, Florida
Jon will become scientific director at the Nantz National Alzheimer’s Center at Houston Methodist Hospital, where he will specialize in seeing patients with movement disorders and dementia and continue his research in these areas.
Pavan Vaswani, MD, PhD
Fellowship Site: University of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Pavan will join as an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Parkinson’s Disease Research, Education and Clinical Center (PADRECC) at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, one of six centers nationwide that cares for veterans with Parkinson’s and other movement disorders.
International Academic Centers Selected to Train the Class of 2025
Since its inception, the Edmond J. Safra Fellowship has extended funding to 28 world-renowned academic institutions in eight countries and 12 U.S. states. During the most recent round of funding, an external review committee of movement disorder specialists, assembled by MJFF, selected eight centers from a highly competitive group of applicants to train the Class of 2025. The awardees are: Charité – Universitätsmedizin in Berlin, Germany; Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois; University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada; University of Rochester in Rochester, New York; University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California; University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, Texas; University of Tϋbingen in Tϋbingen, Germany; and Westmead Hospital and University of Sydney in Sydney, Australia. Each center now will recruit a fellow to begin their two-year training next year.
MJFF is accepting applications from academic centers to train the Class of 2026. A review committee will evaluate applicants on their history of training movement disorder clinician-researchers; the breadth and depth of clinical care and research education; and training programs 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 8, 2022. Learn more and apply here.
The Edmond J. Safra Movement Disorders Research Career Development Awards
To support the sustained contributions of Fellowship alumni to Parkinson’s research, this year, MJFF and the Edmond J. Safra Foundation have launched “the Edmond J. Safra Movement Disorders Research Career Development Awards.” This inaugural award offers funding to recent graduates to study Parkinson’s and related conditions in order to amplify the field-wide contributions of the Fellowship network.
A review committee of MJFF staff and external scientific advisors have selected two recent Edmond J. Safra Fellowship alumni. Both grantees will now begin two-year research projects, while continuing to provide expert care to people and families living with Parkinson’s and other movement disorders.
Conor Fearon, BE, MB, BCh, BAO, MRCPI, PhD
Edmond J. Safra Fellowship Class of 2022
Consulting neurologist; Dublin Neurological Institute; Dublin, Ireland
Combining his expertise in electrical engineering and movement disorders, Conor aims to develop quantitative, non-invasive biomarkers to diagnose and track Parkinson’s and related parkinsonisms through analysis of eye movements and pupillary changes.
Anne Weissbach, MD
Edmond J. Safra Fellowship Class of 2020
Clinician scientist; Institute of Neurogenetics Lübeck and Institute of Systems Motor Science; Lübeck, Germany
Using non-invasive brain stimulation, Anne will evaluate unique brain signals in people with inherited Parkinson-dystonia syndromes. These diseases have symptoms of both PD and dystonia, a muscle cramping that can be part of PD or a condition on its own. Anne hopes this work will lead to better understanding of and treatments for both Parkinson’s and dystonia.
About The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF)
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 $1.5 billion 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; creates a robust open- access data set and biosample library to speed scientific breakthroughs and treatment with its landmark clinical study, PPMI; 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 at michaeljfox.org, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn.
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 charitable foundation to ensure that individuals and organizations would continue to receive his assistance and encouragement for many years to come. Led for more than twenty years by his beloved wife Lily, the Edmond J. Safra Foundation draws continuing inspiration from Mr. and Mrs. Safra’s values and priorities, supporting hundreds of organizations and programs in more than forty 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.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation