Michael J. Fox Foundation launches Parkinson's data challenge

The research and advocacy group is calling upon data scientists and computational analysts to leverage its database to expand understanding of the disease.
By Jessica Davis
04:54 PM

Following the death of Muhammad Ali due to complications from Parkinson's disease, the Michael J. Fox Foundation is challenging data scientists and computational analysts to answer two questions about the illness: What factors, at baseline, predict clinical progression? And what are the subtypes of Parkinson's disease?

With the newly-announced Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative Data Challenge, the foundation is offering $25,000 to two teams of entrants who'll work with researchers to expand understanding of the disease and improve the rate of drug testing.

The challenge will leverage data from the Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative, containing the data of 1,000 Parkinson's patients that has been inputted into the database since 2010. The database contains assessments and contributed samples from patients with early-stage Parkinson's, those with clinical risk factors and control patients.

"PPMI offers an unprecedented set of clinical, molecular and imaging data to construct models that will help better characterize Parkinson's disease," said Todd Sherer, CEO of Michael J. Fox Foundation, in a statement. "The variability of Parkinson's challenges therapeutic development and testing; answers to these questions would help us target and treat this disease better and faster."

The Michael J. Fox Foundation was launched in 2000 and is today the largest nonprofit funder of Parkinson's disease research. Key to Michael J. Fox's involvement with Parkinson's research was Muhammad Ali, according to the MJFF blog.

Officials hope the challenge will stimulate the vast dataset, while providing a chance for collaboration between various fields. According to the press release, the aim is "to gather new insights into PD diagnosis and progression."

Applicants will submit the analytical methods used to address the question, statistical analysis, analysis impact and additional supporting data. Those unfamiliar with Parkinson's can pair with a team of "subject matter experts" to better understand the challenge and evaluate the data within PPMI.

The challenge is supported by 17 industry partners and will offer $50,000 to the teams with the most comprehensive answer to one or both of the questions. GE Healthcare is providing $25,000 to one winner and MJFF is providing the other $25,000.

Interested applicants are encouraged to attend the live webinar about the challenge on Tuesday, June 21 and can visit the MJFF website for more information. Challenge submissions are due by Wednesday, September 7, 2016.

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
Email the writer: jessica.davis@himssmedia.com


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