Michael J. Fox Foundation: Grants for Diseases

OVERVIEW: The Michael J. Fox Foundation awards grants to scientists and researchers working in translational and clinical projects to keep the Parkinson’s drug development pipeline flowing, and to those that are conducting innovative and potentially high-risk/high reward work.

IP TAKE: It may just be a one-year anomaly, but MJFF has funded far fewer grants recently than it has in previous years. If this pattern holds, potential grantees can expect an increasingly competitive playing field for MJFF funding dollars. 

PROFILE: Founded in 1998 after actor Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, the Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) is “dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson's disease through an aggressively funded research agenda and to ensuring the development of improved therapies for those living with Parkinson's today.” MJFF has been reaching out and making connections all through the world of philanthropy and research, in both the US and Canada, where Fox grew up. The foundation states its research grantmaking goal is to “accelerate the best ideas in Parkinson’s disease research toward clinical testing and practical relevance for patients.” In this regard, it places a strong emphasis on finding both clinical and translational research projects in the two key areas of therapeutic approaches and the development of promising tools and resources to help quicken the pace of Parkinson’s treatments. MJFF has three Core Funding Opportunities with targeted research priorities that are constantly evolving.

MJFF’s Target Advancement program supports “research characterizing promising, novel PD-relevant targets or continuing target biology work on established PD targets” with an aim to “de-risk subsequent drug development and ultimately accelerate the advancement of innovative therapies for Parkinson's patients.”

The Therapeutic Pipeline program seeks projects “with potential for fundamentally altering disease course and/or significantly improving treatment of symptoms above and beyond current standards of care.” It supports “prospective studies or retrospective studies utilizing existing data in human biofluids.”

The Outcome Measures program “seeks to support research that will develop biomarker tools and clinical outcome measures to assist in target validation for therapeutic development." This can include Imaging Studies, Clinical/Non-Invasive Physiological Studies, Biochemical Assays and Outcome Measures, and Data Science.

MJFF’s grants are typically up to $150,000, but the Therapeutic Pipeline program may award grants of $1-2 million. Grantseekers can explore the foundation's funded grants page to get an idea of the types of projects and programs it is interested in.  Each program has one grant cycle per year, with pre-proposals generally due in September and full proposals, by invitation only, due in January.

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