Foundations Announce Latest Centers for Training Parkinson’s Specialists

Ana de Barros, PhD avatar

by Ana de Barros, PhD |

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The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) and the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation recently awarded five new medical centers with funding to train clinician-researchers working with Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders.

The five centers, awarded at the fourth round of fellowship funding, will receive financial assistance through a program, the Edmond J. Safra Fellowship in Movement Disorders, designed to have 20 new movement disorder specialists graduated by 2021.

The fellowship was launched in 2014 by the two foundations and it awards funding annually to five international academic medical centers to train one new movement disorder clinician-researcher (respectively) for two years.

The latest centers awarded are: Emory University, in Atlanta, Georgia; Northwestern University, in Chicago, Illinois; Radboud University, in Nijmegen, The Netherlands; University of Lübeck, in Lübeck, Germany, and University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Each institution must now identify a fellow who will begin two years of training in July 2019. Fellows work directly with movement disorder specialists who serve as mentors to learn the skills necessary for a career as a clinician-researcher.

“This program signals our commitment to Parkinson’s research and care, and we’re honored to collaborate with our longtime partner and supporter the Edmond J. Safra Foundation,” Todd Sherer, PhD, CEO of the MJFF, said in a press release. “Building an international network of movement disorder specialists is critical to driving research momentum and better addressing the considerable care needs of those living with Parkinson’s.”

The foundations announced the five winners at the New York City “Fellowship Symposium Day,” an event created to unite fellows and mentors to share research progress.

The special day was attended by 25 Edmond J. Safra fellows and fellowship directors and by Lily Safra herself, chairwoman of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation and MJFF Board member since 2001.

Graduating fellows in the Class of 2018 talked about their experience throughout the day and at a special luncheon, also attended by Ms. Safra.

“This program is serving a critical need,” said Safra. “More expertly trained movement disorder specialists means more doctors to care for people with Parkinson’s and lead research toward better therapies and a cure,” she said.

The Edmond J. Safra fellowship program addresses the growing need of being able to see a movement disorder specialist. These physicians, who are small in numbers, combine training in diagnosing and treating patients, with knowledge and experience in balancing complex medication regimens, allowing for  integration of the latest therapies.

When also trained as researchers, movement disorder specialists can use insights from their patients to inform studies toward improved understanding of disease and treatments.

With Parkinson’s becoming a growing problem — 12 million people are estimated to be affected worldwide by 2040 — care and continued research for this population is critical.

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