NEW YORK, NY — Michael J. Fox, the advocate, actor and founder of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, is to receive an honorary doctorate from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute today.
In conferring the degree, Dean Clara Gumpert said: “In its short history, The Michael J. Fox Foundation has gained the admiration and respect of the worldwide research community for its rigorous scientific standards and its commitment to quickly and aggressively funding high-impact therapeutic development. Strongly influenced by Michael’s personal philosophy, his foundation operates with rare dynamism and a constant focus on speeding breakthrough treatments to the world’s 5 million Parkinson’s patients.”
Previous recipients of honorary doctorates from the Karolinska Institute include Microsoft founder and personal computer visionary Bill Gates in 2008 and South African peace activist Nelson Mandela in 2005. Honorary doctorates are awarded to academics who have made a significant contribution, scientific or otherwise, to research at the university, and to people who have not earned a PhD through formal academic achievements, but who have nonetheless benefited research and development through other means. The Karolinska Institute also awards the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
“I’m grateful to the Board of Research and to the Karolinska Institute for this tremendous honor,” Fox said. “It is especially meaningful because our Foundation and the Karolinska Institute share a belief in the power of scientific endeavor to create a future that is better for everyone, and a commitment to act strategically — even unconventionally — to help bring that future closer.”
Michael J. Fox was born in Canada in 1961. He is an award-winning television and film actor and the author of two best-selling memoirs. His third book, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future: Twists and Turns and Lessons Learned, a compendium of wisdom for graduates, will be published in April 2010. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991 and shared this news with the public in 1998. Since then he has become known for his activities to promote research and awareness of the disease and the need for improved treatments and a cure. In 2000 he founded MJFF, today the world’s largest private funder of Parkinson’s research.