NEW YORK (November 13, 2023) — The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF) has awarded the 2023 Robert A. Pritzker Prize for Leadership in Parkinson’s Research to Dario Alessi, PhD, biochemist, director of the Medical Research Council Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit and professor of signal transduction at the School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, UK. The prize recognizes researchers who make exceptional contributions to Parkinson’s disease (PD) research and are committed to mentoring the next generation of Parkinson’s scientists.
“Dr. Alessi has trailblazed areas of science that are key to our understanding of the genetics of Parkinson’s disease,” said Shalini Padmanabhan, PhD, MJFF’s vice president, discovery and translational research, noting Alessi’s work illuminating the pathobiology of the LRRK2 mutation, the most frequent cause of inherited PD, and his pivotal role guiding MJFF’s LRRK2 funding and research strategy. “This work provided a greater understanding of LRRK2 that is being leveraged in ongoing and future trials of therapies to inhibit LRRK2 and hopefully slow the progression of the disease.”
Padmanabhan also highlighted Alessi’s invaluable commitment to open and collaborative science that goes beyond just sharing reagents and other tools to advance the understanding of biology and includes formative partnerships and mentoring of many of today’s leaders in PD research. Padmanabhan presented the prize to Alessi at the Foundation’s Research Roundtable event in New York City on November 11, 2023.
Alessi has a distinguished history as a global leader in the study of kinases, a class of cellular proteins that includes LRRK2. In addition to running a lab focused on kinase research, Alessi directs the Dundee Signal Transduction Therapy Unit, a collaboration between leading researchers in the University of Dundee’s School of Life Sciences and some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies.
He also leads an international research network team that explores the biology underlying genetic mutations in PD. The team is part of the Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s (ASAP) initiative, a coordinated research initiative funded by the Sergey Brin Family Foundation and implemented by MJFF, which focuses on accelerating the path to a cure for PD through collaboration, research-enabling resources and data sharing.
The Robert A. Pritzker Prize for Leadership in Parkinson's Research, awarded annually by MJFF since 2011, was established by Karen Pritzker, daughter of Robert A. Pritzker, and her late husband, investor Michael Vlock. The longtime unwavering support of MJFF donors Pritzker and Vlock provides funding for the award. This year, a $200,000 research grant will be awarded.
“It is an incredible honor to receive the Pritzker Prize. Having this award funding will be transformational to furthering our progress on Parkinson's research and moving us closer to finding treatments that cure the disease,” Alessi said. “It also helps us achieve a key goal in the lab: giving students and other researchers fantastic opportunities to learn about research and become leading experts in this field.”
Watch the "Robert A. Pritzker Prize for Leadership in Parkinson's Research: Inspiring Hope for a World Free from Parkinson's" video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkaefcwfE4Q
About the Robert A. Pritzker Prize for Leadership in Parkinson's Research
The Robert A. Pritzker Prize for Leadership in Parkinson's Research is named in honor of the late Robert A. Pritzker, a renowned industrialist, entrepreneur and philanthropist. Pritzker was founder of The Marmon Group and president of Colson Associates, Inc., holding companies for a variety of manufacturing and medical businesses. Additionally, he was an early promoter of the field of medical engineering at his alma mater, the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago, where he also played a key role in expanding the biomedical research community through his support of The Pritzker Institute for Biomedical Science and Engineering at IIT.
The MJFF Scientific Advisory Board serves as the jury panel. Selection criteria include the nominee's complete body of work in the PD field with an emphasis on its impact on accelerating drug development; field-wide impact of the nominee's work; dedication to patient-relevant science; and influence on and encouragement of the next generation of PD investigators. The award itself is designed by renowned artist and Parkinson's patient Tom Shannon.
About The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research
As the world's largest nonprofit funder of Parkinson's research, The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to accelerating a cure for Parkinson's disease and improved therapies for those living with the condition today. The Foundation pursues its goals through an aggressively funded, highly targeted research program coupled with active global engagement of scientists, Parkinson's patients, business leaders, clinical trial participants, donors, and volunteers. In addition to funding $2 billion in research to date, the Foundation has fundamentally altered the trajectory of progress toward a cure. Operating at the hub of worldwide Parkinson's research, the Foundation forges groundbreaking collaborations with industry leaders, academic scientists and government research funders; creates a robust open-access data set and biosample library to speed scientific breakthroughs and treatment with its landmark clinical study, PPMI; increases the flow of participants into Parkinson's disease clinical trials with its online tool, Fox Trial Finder; promotes Parkinson's awareness through high-profile advocacy, events, and outreach; and coordinates the grassroots involvement of thousands of Team Fox members around the world. For more information, visit us at www.michaeljfox.org, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation