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MJFF Awardee Builds on Foundation Funding to Land $8 Million Follow-on Award from NINDS

Last week, Banner Sun Health Research Institute (BSHRI) and Mayo Clinic Arizona announced an $8 million, five-year grant from The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) to support a "National Brain and Tissue Resource for Parkinson's Disease and Related Disorders." The announcement comes on the heels of ongoing support from The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF).

Principal investigators Thomas Beach, MD, PhD, of BSHRI and Charles Adler, MD, PhD, of the Mayo Clinic are co-principal investigators of the Arizona Parkinson's Disease Consortium (APDC), a resource funded by MJFF with grants totaling more than $5 million, which was instrumental in establishing the basis for the NINDS award.

"APDC is uniquely set up to collect robust data optimized for translational research, which drugmakers can leverage in pursuit of therapeutic breakthroughs,” said Todd Sherer, PhD, CEO of MJFF. “This significant support from NINDS is not only a vote of confidence in the outstanding resource built to date, but will allow the APDC team to take this program to the next level to help speed progress toward improved therapies for PD."

MJFF’s collaboration with APDC, a group of six research institutions including Mayo Clinic and BSHRI, was launched in 2007 with the $2.8-million, three-year Prescott Family Initiative to expand APDC’s work with BSHRI’s Brain and Body Donation Program (BBDP). BBDP participants are examined annually by a movement disorder specialist, a behavioral neurologist and a neuropsychologist, and then agree to donate their brain for research after death. The information is compiled on three distinct subsets — healthy adults; PD patients; and healthy adults who, over the course of their enrollment, experience PD onset. The data is then made available to interested researchers, who can apply directly to MJFF for funding opportunities.

(The BBDP is currently enrolling volunteers with PD who live in Maricopa County, Arizona. For information, contact Kathryn Davis at Banner Sun Health Research Institute at (623) 875-6511. Volunteers must have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and live in Maricopa County.)

In addition to supporting the BBDP, MJFF has earmarked millions of dollars in grant funding for PD research projects leveraging APDC's exceptional bank of well-characterized biologics, postmortem tissue and associated clinical data. One such project headed by Jim Greene, MD, PhD, of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, is working toward treatments for gastrointestinal symptoms of Parkinson’s disease by studying abnormalities in tissue samples.

“MJFF’s support, both financial and scientific, has allowed the APDC to grow and to flourish,” said Dr. Adler. “The Foundation’s backing was key to securing the significant funding from NINDS that will allow us to continue seeking improved treatments for Parkinson’s disease.”

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