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LRRK2 Challenge 2014


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The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) seeks to support work that can significantly contribute to a better understanding of the gene/protein leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2), its relevance to Parkinson’s disease (PD) and effective ways to translate LRRK2 research into therapies for patients. Applicants may submit a proposal focused on a relevant area of LRRK2 (see full details below) for consideration of a one-year, $125,000 award. Successful applicants will be granted membership in the MJFF LRRK2 Consortium, where they can share information, data and resources with other awardees of this and other MJFF LRRK2-related efforts.



No deadline; applications accepted anytime.



Mutations in the LRRK2 gene represent one of the most common genetic links to PD yet discovered, associated with an estimated 1-2% of cases overall and as high as 40% in certain ethnic populations. The LRRK2 protein is large and complex with multiple domains, including not only a kinase but also a GTPase domain which may act to regulate kinase activity. Some pathogenic mutations in LRRK2 result in enhanced kinase activity suggesting a possible PD-related gain of abnormal/toxic function. The LRRK2 protein also has multiple other domains that may bind additional proteins, placing LRRK2 possibly within a protein complex. To date, there is little consensus on which exact protein substrates may be modified directly by or interact with LRRK2, and the exact role of LRRK2 in the cell is unclear. Given its relative frequency in PD and its putative enhanced pathological kinase activity, LRRK2 represents a clear and compelling molecular target for therapeutic development. 


The LRRK2 Challenge 2014 program seeks proposals focused on relevant areas of LRRK2 that can help achieve the following goals:

  • Improve biological understanding of LRRK2 function and PD-associated dysfunction to inform effective therapeutic targeting of LRRK2;
  • Identify and overcome barriers to developing LRRK2-targeted therapies through engagement with Industry and the LRRK2 therapeutic field.
  • Improve clinical understanding of LRRK2 parkinsonism that can inform ultimate therapeutic clinical trials;
  • Develop critical LRRK2 research tools that can enable and accelerate the field.

Proposals of greatest interest will address novel and/or unanswered critical questions in the field or greatly enhance existing efforts with novel approaches, strategies and/or technologies. Along these lines, potential applicants should note the following:

  • MJFF has already made significant investment in LRRK2 and maintains an active portfolio of LRRK2-related projects. Thus, proposals submitted to the LRRK2 Challenge 2014 program will be evaluated within the context of MJFF’s portfolio and priorities before any funding decision is made.
  • Given current Industry interest and investment in LRRK2 therapeutic development, MJFF is not prioritizing direct support of LRRK2 therapeutic programs. Applicants seeking partnership with MJFF on the development of LRRK2 therapeutic strategies should contact MJFF research staff to discuss further.
  • MJFF has established a large, international network of LRRK2 clinical cohorts. Investigators with access to relevant LRRK2 cohorts/populations are encouraged to contact MJFF research staff to learn more about our efforts and other ways of engaging MJFF on these initiatives.
  • Proposals to develop novel LRRK2 tools, reagents and/or research models may be considered if appropriate. However, please note that MJFF prefers to develop such tools directly to ensure widespread and restriction-free access. Interested applicants will need to work closely with MJFF staff and agree to specific sharing and distribution terms. For examples of our research tools, please see our online tools catalog.



MJFF intends to fund multiple proposals as part of this initiative. Invited applicants may request up to one year and $125,000 in total costs, inclusive of both direct and indirect costs. No more than 10% of the direct costs may go to indirect costs. Please see the program instructions, Administrative Guidelines and our FAQ on MJFF indirect cost policy for details.



Applications may be submitted by:

  • U.S. and non-U.S. biotechnology/pharmaceutical companies or other for-profit entities, either publicly or privately held,
  • U.S. and non-U.S. entities, public and private non-profit entities, such as universities, colleges, hospitals, laboratories, units of state and local governments, and eligible agencies of the federal government.

Post-doctoral fellows are NOT eligible to apply as Principal Investigators to this program.



Please see the proposal instructions and requirements for details on submitting a proposal. In addition, awardees of this program will have to agree to sharing terms substantially similar to the following policy:

As MJFF is a public charity, research conducted with funds from MJFF (the “Research”) must be conducted in the public interest. MJFF acknowledges that any discoveries and related regulatory approvals made by researchers through the Research are the property of those conducting and responsible for the Research and that unless otherwise agreed to by the parties; such researchers have the first opportunity to exploit the Research commercially or otherwise. Notwithstanding, each Applicant acknowledges that MJFF has the right, after reasonable consultation which will not be unreasonably denied, conditioned or delayed, to release a summary of findings of the Research within 90 days from the date of the grant program expiration.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, MJFF requires that all tools or reagents (i) funded by and (ii) that result from awarded projects (collectively, the “Results”) be made readily available to the community including MJFF for research purposes. You will be required to agree that you will cooperate and collaborate with MJFF and other researchers and share access to Results on fair and reasonable terms and conditions within 3 months of grant expiration. By submitting your application, you and your institution are confirming that you are not aware of any requirements that would prohibit, delay, or restrict your ability to share your Results from this initiative, including requirements of third-party collaborators or companies with which you are affiliated.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, you agree that during the term of your Award and upon request by MJFF, you will participate in certain discussions conducted by MJFF involving other PD researchers, and you will share research information and tools discussed with the discussion participants (“Participants”). You and all other Participants will sign a Confidential Disclosure Agreement acknowledging that Participants shall treat the information and tools shared during and after such discussions as confidential information. Any information or tools you provide or receive as a result of your participation in such discussions shall be used only for the purpose of permitting Participants to advance PD scientific research or assess your Project. No such information or tools may be used in publications, presentations, for commercial purposes, or in any efforts to secure intellectual property rights, unless separately agreed to by you or the owner of such tools or information in writing.



Please refer to our Administrative Guidelines. Please note that any information contained in this RFA will supersede any information contained in general MJFF administrative guidelines.


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