Alim Louis Benabid, MD, PhD, Awarded 2013 Robert A. Pritzker Prize for Leadership in Parkinson's Research by The Michael J. Fox Foundation

May 31, 2013, 14:59 ET from The Michael J. Fox Foundation

NEW YORK, May 31, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF) announced that Alim Louis Benabid, MD, PhD, is the recipient of the 2013 Robert A. Pritzker Prize for Leadership in Parkinson's Research. The prize recognizes an honoree's contribution to Parkinson's research as well as an exceptional commitment to mentoring the next generation of Parkinson's scientists.  Professor Benabid, widely recognized as the inventor and pioneer of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), was selected for his profound contributions to developing innovative surgical methods for treating Parkinson's disease (PD). He will receive a $100,000 grant to advance his research in neurodegenerative diseases.

"Professor Benabid's contributions to the field of Parkinson's disease research, and to improving lives of those living with the disease, are well-documented," said Todd Sherer, PhD, CEO of MJFF. "Today, Deep Brain Stimulation remains a viable option for many with PD, and one that can offer life-altering results. Since his groundbreaking work with DBS, Professor Benabid has refused to rest on his laurels, but instead, he has remained committed to improving on existing treatments for PD. We are proud to recognize him for a lifetime of devotion to this goal." 

"It is a major honor to be awarded the Robert A. Pritzker Prize, and to be recognized by my peers, and by a Foundation that remains at the forefront of leading the drive for new and better treatments for PD," said Professor Benabid. "The most rewarding aspect of my career has been to see the development of surgical treatments that benefit people living with Parkinson's. I aim to continue this work alongside The Michael J. Fox Foundation moving forward." 

The prize 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. He attributed much of his success to his unique approach to management. As a business leader, Pritzker always sought to establish a creative and productive work environment by encouraging his employees to work independently. 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. Launched in 1980, this center has opened new areas of cutting-edge biomedical study and expanded the university's presence in the greater research community.

The Robert A. Pritzker Prize for Leadership in Parkinson's Research is made possible by Karen Pritzker, daughter of Robert A. Pritzker, and her husband, investor Michael Vlock. Their initial gift of $1.5M over three years (starting in 2011) provided a $100,000 grant to the Pritzker Prize recipient each year, as well as $400,000 to support allied MJFF research programs. This year, they announced their plan to continue their support of the annual prize in the coming years.

"We are honoring my father by supporting and celebrating talented scientists whose creativity, innovation and dedication are making unparalleled advances in Parkinson's research. This prize is dedicated to the individuals and teams who are enabling marked improvements in the lives of those with Parkinson's disease," said Karen Pritzker.

The Executive Scientific Advisory Board of The Michael J. Fox Foundation served as the jury panel. Selection criteria included: 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 Parkinson's disease investigators.

The award, designed by renowned artist and Parkinson's patient Tom Shannon, was presented to Professor Benabid by Michael J. Fox at a luncheon on Tuesday, May 28 in New York City.

About Robert A. Pritzker (1926–2011)
Robert A. Pritzker was a member of a prominent family in American business and philanthropy. In 1954 he became president of the Colson Company, manufacturer of industrial and institutional casters and wheeled equipment. His leadership led to the acquisition of other companies, which in 1964 were merged under the name The Marmon Group. Over the years, he also has served on the board of directors of several institutions. A Chicago native, Pritzker entered California Institute of Technology as an engineering student before transferring to the Illinois Institute of Technology to complete his undergraduate studies. Pritzker later completed graduate-level business and industrial administration courses as the University of Illinois. His commitment to education led him to teach at IIT, the University of Chicago and as a visiting professor at Oxford University in England. Pritzker was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1998.

About The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research
As the world's largest private 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 more than $325 million 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; 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.

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SOURCE The Michael J. Fox Foundation