In Congressional Testimony, Todd Sherer, CEO of Michael J. Fox Foundation, Offers Insights for Speeding Cures

Mar 20, 2012, 10:30 ET from The Michael J. Fox Foundation

Offers recommendations to help define role of NCATS, banish "valley of death" on drug development pipeline —

NEW YORK, March 20, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Todd Sherer, PhD, CEO of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF), was one of five witnesses to address the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education in Washington, D.C. on the role of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). An initiative spearheaded by National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins, NCATS would be the first research institute at NIH exclusively dedicated to driving translational research to speed basic science discoveries into practical treatments.

Sherer offered key learnings from The Michael J. Fox Foundation's model to speed treatment breakthroughs for Parkinson's disease by investing strategically in translational research. His testimony defined the role of translational research in the drug development process, demonstrating how lessons learned in Parkinson's could apply to the greater medical research enterprise and how NCATS could help create a more efficient drug development process for the benefit of generations of Americans.

Sherer testified:

"This series of [translational] questions must be asked and answered before we take the critical leap of faith to test a potential therapy in a human. The problem is, it's far easier said than done. In the medical research system as it stands today, few natural handoffs exist to shepherd promising findings from researcher to researcher, institution to institution, or discipline to discipline — let alone from academia to industry. This phase has famously been dubbed the 'valley of death' because of the chronic funding and expertise gap that is crying out to be addressed by an institute like NCATS. For now, unfortunately, this is where potential treatment breakthroughs go to die."

Sherer noted that in pursuit of a Parkinson's cure, MJFF has funded more than $285 million in research since inception, of which 90 percent has gone straight to translational research. "We believe that getting to patient-relevant results isn't about spending more money — it's about spending money more effectively," he said.

"Based on my experience of what can happen when substantive investments are made in translation, the total contributions NCATS can make to drug development may well be greater than the sum of the parts." 

To view the complete testimony, visit:

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 $285 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. Now through December 31, 2012, all new and increased giving to The Michael J. Fox Foundation, as well as gifts from donors who have not given since 2009 or earlier, will be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis with the $50-million Brin Wojcicki Challenge, launched by Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki.



SOURCE The Michael J. Fox Foundation