This week, Michael J. Fox Foundation CEO Todd Sherer, PhD, is attending the 17th Annual Movement Disorder Society Congress in Sydney, Australia, one of the largest international gatherings of experts in Parkinson’s disease (PD) and other movement disorders.
Sherer also took advantage of his trip Down Under to meet with Shake it Up Australia Foundation (SIUAF) and its founder, businessman Clyde Campbell, as well as several Aussie researchers who have been funded by MJFF to conduct PD research projects.
“Our Foundation has worked hard to provide support to scientists across the globe, toward our end goal of finding new and better treatments for PD,” says Sherer. “In short, the more top notch scientists we have working on this project, the better chance we have at success. And there are some fantastic ones here in Australia who are already working on promising Parkinson’s research projects.”
SIUAF works closely with MJFF by disbursing funds in Australia to awardees who have been identified by MJFF. In 2012, the two Foundations worked together to bring MJFF’s landmark clinical study, the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), to Australia. To date, MJFF and SIUAF have co-funded five Australian-based research projects in addition to the PPMI collaboration.
Sherer met with MJFF awardees David Finkelstein, PhD and Nic Dzamko, PhD while in Sydney, among others.
Dzamko, a research officer at Neuroscience Research Australia, is partnering with Glenda Halliday, PhD, to learn more about the LRRK2 gene’s role in the body’s immune system, and how mutations in this gene might lead to Parkinson’s.
Finkelstein and his team are studying a protein called alpha-synuclein, whose clumping is found in the brains of all people with PD. Finkelstein’s group, based in Melbourne, is performing early stage pre-clinical research to learn more about whether lowering levels of alpha-synuclein in the brain might be a safe therapeutic approach for a disease-modifying Parkinson’s drug.