Michael J. Fox Foundation Absorbs Parkinson’s Group

July 1, 2015       Mark Hrywna      

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) and the Michael Stern Parkinson’s Research Foundation (MSPRF) have announced the merger of the two organizations, effective June 30.

The merger will include the transition of the Stern Foundation’s daily operations to the Fox Foundation. It will continue MSPRF’s work through grants funding neurological research with strong potential to develop novel disease-modifying and symptomatic targets, including high-risk discovery work as the backbone of drug development.

The partnership will advance cutting-edge research focused on the underlying cause, diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson’s disease and forms the Michael Stern Discovery Grants in Parkinson’s Science, according to the announcement. The first Michael Stern Discovery Grants in Parkinson’s Science are currently planned for the fall. They will provide strategic funding for novel Parkinson’s Disease discovery science and build on the initial findings around emerging targets, helping speed them forward in the drug development process. MJFF’s expert on-staff research team will work in partnership with external experts through a peer-review system to identify, evaluate and award work with the greatest promise to propel development of transformative therapies.

MJFF is the vastly larger of the two organizations, reporting $91 million in total revenue and employing 104 people during that fiscal year ending 2013. The New York City-based organization reported total assets of $46 million. The Stern Foundation reported revenue of $1.5 million and $2.3 million in net assets for 2013, the most recent fiscal year tax form available. It has sponsored more than $46 million in Parkinson’s Disease research since it was founded in 2001. The Fox Foundation was founded in 2000.

MSPRF has no employees but nine board members, according to its most recent tax form. It’s unclear how or if its nine board members will transition into MJFF and its 35-member board. The organization, also based in New York City, reported distributing $1.184 million in grants during 2013 — one to Yale University for the identification of cell-type specific post-translational modifications and altered synaptic protein expression involved in Parkinson’s Disease, and another to Weill Cornell Medical Center for the study of P11 gene therapy.

The Michael Stern Parkinson’s Research Foundation (MSPRF) was founded by the late Michael Stern, a journalist, filmmaker and philanthropist. He began learning about neurological conditions and the need for research after a family friend was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease. He also founded the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research Foundation in honor of a friend’s wife. Since Stern’s death in 2009, the foundation has been led by his daughter, Margaret, as chairman and CEO.

“Our foundation has always been driven by the profound need to identify discoveries in understanding and curing Parkinson’s,” said Margaret Stern. “Our partnership with The Michael J. Fox Foundation reinforces our commitment to scientific collaboration and progress. My brother and I know that this merger is one that our father would have heartily approved of and fully endorsed.”

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