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Michael J. Fox Foundation Commits up to $6.5 Million in Funding for Critical Challenges in Parkinson's Disease

NEW YORK, April 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research announced that it would make up to $6.5 million in total funding available under three Critical Challenges research programs designed to accelerate solutions to some of the most difficult hurdles standing in the way of breakthrough therapeutics for PD.

The Critical Challenges funding opportunities focus research efforts on key priority areas in Parkinson's disease drug development. Priority challenges are chosen based on their relevance for addressing broader Foundation goals: define Parkinson's disease and its progression, alter the disease course and reduce its symptoms. The first 2009 Challenges are:

  • Clinicopathological Correlations of Parkinson's Disease will drive projects to understand the clinicopathological correlates of Parkinson's disease using extensive clinical data and postmortem tissue from normal control, PD and related disease subjects. Applicants will collaborate with the Arizona Parkinson's Disease Consortium, an existing MJFF grantee that has developed an exceptional bank of well-characterized postmortem tissue and associated clinical data.
  • Understanding LRRK2 Biology seeks proposals with potential to alter disease course by increasing understanding of the role of the gene LRRK2 in Parkinson's disease and developing essential tools to facilitate and accelerate research and therapeutic development efforts around this promising new therapeutic target. Ideal proposals will work to shed light on critical questions surrounding LRRK2, such as how LRRK2 pathogenic mutations directly lead to in vivo functional and pathological outcomes, and which cellular pathways LRRK2 normally and/or abnormally functions in.
  • Postural Instability and Gait Disorders will drive efforts to better treat PD symptoms by clarifying the pathophysiology and biological correlates of posture and gait dysfunction, which patients report to be one of the most debilitating aspects of living with PD, and which is not well-managed by currently available therapies.

"Through the Critical Challenges programs, MJFF targets research that we believe to have critical relevance to the entire field," said Katie Hood, CEO. "Our in-house research staff, in consultation with the Foundation's scientific advisors, designs each Challenge to address a specific priority area where our funding and expertise can make the greatest difference in speeding scientific developments toward the clinic and patients."

Critical Challenges complement the Foundation's annually recurring Pipeline Programs, which do not identify a specific research priority area to be pursued, but instead provide opportunities for projects at various stages of development to be funded, ensuring that new ideas continue flowing into Parkinson's research. Last November, MJFF announced $11 million in 2009 Pipeline Program funding.

Abbreviated information on the 2009 Critical Challenges follows. Full details are available at

Clinicopathological Correlations of Parkinson's Disease 2009

Total available funding: $1.5 million

Deadline: 6 p.m. ET, Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Funding Anticipated: December 2009

Postural Instability and Gait Disturbances 2009

Total available funding: $2 million

Deadline: 6 p.m. ET, Friday, June 5, 2009

Funding Anticipated: December 2009

Understanding LRRK2 Biology 2009

Total available funding: $3 million

Deadline: 6 p.m. ET, Monday, June 1, 2009

Funding Anticipated: December 2009

The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to ensuring the development of better treatments, and ultimately a cure, for Parkinson's disease through an aggressively funded research agenda. MJFF has funded over $142 million in research to date.

SOURCE Michael J. Fox Foundation
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