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Michael J. Fox Foundation Names Core Programs in Honor of Humanitarian Edmond J. Safra

NEW YORK, Nov. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- At the "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Cure Parkinson's Disease" gala benefiting The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, to be held this week in New York City, Founder Michael J. Fox will announce that the Foundation has named its core programs in honor of the late philanthropist and humanitarian Edmond J. Safra.

MJFF's Edmond J. Safra Core Programs for PD Research are three annual funding initiatives designed to keep the drug development pipeline for Parkinson's disease flowing with novel, high-impact ideas promising tangible improvements in patients' quality of life sooner rather than later.

In 1999 Mr. Safra founded The Edmond J. Safra Foundation, which has been a generous and steadfast supporter of The Michael J. Fox Foundation's mission to speed progress toward transformative treatments --- and ultimately a cure --- for Parkinson's disease. He shared his devotion to this cause with his beloved wife, Lily, a member of the Board of The Michael J. Fox Foundation and, since her husband's passing, Chairman of The Edmond J. Safra Foundation.

"Lily has been a great personal friend to me, and under her leadership the Edmond J. Safra Foundation has been a dedicated steward of our Foundation's efforts to accelerate the cure," said Michael J. Fox. "It is only appropriate that the programs defining the core of our Foundation's mission to significantly impact patients' lives should serve as a lasting tribute to Edmond J. Safra."

Considered by many to have been among the greatest bankers of his generation, Mr. Safra also was an extraordinary philanthropist. He contributed to countless humanitarian, religious, educational and cultural causes the world over. He was deeply committed to the search for a cure for neurodegenerative diseases, in particular Parkinson's disease, and made the support of medical research in this field one of the key objectives of The Edmond J. Safra Foundation.

"Caring for the sick took priority over everything else in my husband's life," said Lily Safra. "During his lifetime he helped countless people receive medical treatment and was a generous supporter of scientific research around the world. It is therefore our privilege to be a partner in the Michael J. Fox Foundation's innovative, creative, and strategic efforts to find a cure for Parkinson's disease."

"The Michael J. Fox Foundation has been deeply fortunate to have the unflagging commitment of The Edmond J. Safra Foundation in our shared search for revolutionary treatments for Parkinson's disease," said Katie Hood, MJFF's chief executive officer.

The Edmond J. Safra Core Programs for PD Research, all of which fall at traditionally underfunded stages of the drug development pipeline, are:

Rapid Response Innovation Awards --- a one-of-a-kind, rolling-application program to support groundbreaking Parkinson's disease research in real-time. Rapid Response funds high-risk, high-reward projects within weeks of application, aiming to tackle critical scientific roadblocks and help open new avenues for PD therapy development.

Target Validation --- supports rigorous testing of early-stage discoveries to determine whether they are true targets for commercial therapeutic development. Target Validation projects are structured to conclusively confirm that a biological target plays a role in disease and that by modifying the target, symptoms or disease course can be altered.

Clinical Intervention Awards --- supports projects exploring new neuroprotective treatments, improvements on existing therapies, and development of treatments for unmet symptoms. The program funds proof-of-principle clinical research involving the active participation of small sample populations.

Other MJFF programs also have been made possible by the leadership generosity of The Edmond J. Safra Foundation. They include the 2007 funding round of MJFF's signature initiative, LEAPS (Linked Efforts to Accelerate Parkinson's Solutions), which brings together "all-star" teams of researchers to solve critical questions in Parkinson's diagnosis or treatment, and The Edmond J. Safra Global Genetics Consortia, which facilitates and improves understanding of the genetics and epidemiology of Parkinson's disease.

For more information on MJFF's Edmond J. Safra Core Programs for PD Research, please visit

About The Michael J. Fox Foundation

Founded in 2000, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research is dedicated to ensuring the development of a cure for Parkinson's disease within the coming decade through an aggressively funded research agenda. The Foundation has funded $128 million in research to date.

About The Edmond J. Safra Foundation

Edmond J. Safra created a major philanthropic foundation to ensure that needy individuals and organizations would continue to receive assistance and encouragement for many years to come. Now under the chairmanship of his beloved wife Lily, the Edmond J. Safra Foundation draws continuing inspiration from its founder's life and values. With Mrs. Safra's leadership, the Foundation has assisted hundreds of organizations in over 50 countries around the world, and its work encompasses four grantmaking areas: Education; Science and Medicine; Religion; and Humanitarian Assistance, Culture, and Social Welfare.

SOURCE The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson?s Research
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