The Michael J. Fox Foundation Announces $25,000 PPMI Data Challenge to Advance Parkinson’s Understanding and Study Design

Today The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) announced a challenge asking data scientists and computational analysts to work with researchers to answer fundamental questions about Parkinson’s that limit our understanding and slow drug testing.

The PPMI Data Challenge offers $25,000 each to two teams that develop models to answer either:

• What factors at baseline predict clinical progression? or
• What are the sub-types of Parkinson’s disease?

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, PhD, MJFF CEO. “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 challenge leverages PPMI data to characterize this heterogeneous disease. Parkinson’s is highly variable, with age of onset, rate of progression, and type and severity of symptoms different across the 5 million worldwide living with the disease. Identifying models for prognosis and sub-typing would aid in subject selection for clinical studies and design of trials toward novel therapies.

PPMI has enrolled nearly 1,000 participants: people with early-stage Parkinson’s, those with clinical risk factors (hyposmia, or smell loss, and REM sleep behavior disorder), carriers of genetic mutations associated with Parkinson’s (both individuals with the disease and without), and control volunteers. Over five years, participants undergo clinical assessments, contribute biological samples and complete imaging scans. After the initial five years, volunteers can continue contributing data and biosamples through a modified protocol.

The study is supported by 17 industry partners, including GE Healthcare, which will provide one of the $25,000 prizes. (MJFF will provide the other.) “GE Healthcare is excited to participate in this open innovation project with The Michael J. Fox Foundation that will leverage the unique PPMI data set to develop innovative digital solutions in the management of Parkinson’s disease,” said Etienne Montagut, global product leader-Neurology and Cardiology, GE Healthcare’s Life Sciences business. “I’m confident the project can ultimately improve diagnosis and prognosis in PD that will lead to better patient outcomes.”

Given the scope and breadth of the PPMI dataset, applicants may request to be matched with a Parkinson’s researcher for assistance in navigating the dataset and prioritizing relevance to disease diagnosis and progression.

Submissions are due Wednesday, September 7, 2016. Interested applicants are invited to attend a live webinar on Tuesday, June 21, 2016, for more information on the challenge and to ask questions. Visit https://www.michaeljfox.org/research/data-science.html to learn more.