Research Leaders

As part of our strategy to end Parkinson's, PDF mobilizes leaders in the research community to help us more quickly solve, treat and end the disease.

To date, PDF has invested $115 million in Parkinson's research, which has advanced our understanding of PD and improved millions of lives worldwide.

PDF investments play an integral role in driving interdisciplinary research, advancing the careers of next-generation research leaders, shaping patient-centric research and disseminating scientific information.

Why Research Leaders?

In years past, a talented young scientist — in his or her late 20s or early 30s — was almost assured federal funding to advance innovative ideas and establish a career. But today most scientists have to wait until their mid-40s for funding.

In the meantime, the field’s future leaders are standing on a precipice facing a “valley of death” between their scientific potential and the funding they need to make it happen. We are losing them from the PD fight before they can contribute.

PDF’s track record of funding early-career scientists is unparalleled — our funding has nurtured the leaders who are driving today’s new therapies. But we need to do more to fund the ideas of young innovators and keep the pipeline of scientists full.

What We’re Doing

  • PDF is focusing $2 million of our $4.6 million research investment on early-career scientists.
  • PDF is recruiting scientists early with ‘small but mighty’ fellowships. These low-cost, high-reward programs motivate students to dedicate their careers to PD, while advancing the research of senior scientists.
  • Once scientists graduate, PDF is kickstarting their innovative ideas. We step in with an extensive offering of fellowships — our own and those offered with partners such as the American Academy of Neurology and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute — that allow scientists to cultivate creativity and take initial steps to prove the potential of their scientific ideas.
  • PDF is helping scientists cross that “valley of death.” As they face pressures that may force them to switch careers and leave their research projects incomplete, PDF will be the bridge to ensure no promising idea is left unstudied. We will invest, through mechanisms like the Stanley Fahn Junior Faculty Award (named for PDF’s Scientific Director of 40 years), to keep them in the field and help them potentially find a cure for PD.