Karolinska: Michael J Fox becomes honorary doctor of medicine

10 Mar 2010 | Network Updates

The advocate and actor Michael J. Fox is to be made honorary doctor of medicine at Karolinska Institutet in recognition of his work raising funds and awareness for Parkinson’s disease as the founder of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF).

Since 2000, the foundation has awarded over $175 million to fund the development of drugs to treat Parkinson’s disease, including at Karolinska Institutet. Michael J. Fox received his honorary doctorate from Associate Professor and Dean Clara Gumpert representing the Board of Research, which selects the honorary doctors at Karolinska Institutet. The ceremony took place at the private residence of David Dangoor Sweden’s Honorary Consul-General in New York. Participating in the ceremony were Jan Andersson, vice-president of Karolinska Institutet, and Johan Ericson representing the research field.

“In its short history, the Michael J. Fox Foundation has gained the admiration and respect of the worldwide research community for its rigorous scientific standards and its commitment to quickly and aggressively funding high-impact therapeutic development,” said Gumpert. “Strongly influenced by Michael’s personal philosophy, his foundation operates with rare dynamism and a constant focus on speeding breakthrough treatments to the world’s five million Parkinson’s patients.”

Fox, born in Canada in 1961, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991 and shared this news with the public in 1998. Since then he has become known for promoting research and awareness of the disease and the need for improved treatments and a cure. In 2000 he founded MJFF, today the world’s largest private funder of Parkinson’s research.

Fox has also been a powerful advocate for research freedom and the pursuit of embryonic stem cell-based therapeutic strategies in US laboratories.

Honorary doctorates at Karolinska Institutet are awarded to academics who have made a significant contribution, scientific or otherwise, to research at the university, and to people who have not earned a PhD through formal academic achievements, but who have nonetheless benefited research and development through other means.

“I’m grateful to the Board of Research for this tremendous honour,” Fox said. “It’s especially meaningful because our Foundation and Karolinska Institutet share a belief in the power of scientific endeavour to create a future that is better for everyone, and a commitment to act strategically - even unconventionally - to help bring that future closer.”

Never miss an update from Science|Business:   Newsletter sign-up