Science & Technology

Michael J. Fox Foundation Selects Princeton Co. for Parkinson’s Initiative

Princeton-based WCG announced that The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) has chosen it to be the institutional review board (IRB) of record for its Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI). PPMI is a longitudinal, observational study of participants with and without Parkinson’s disease (PD). It is designed to identify biological markers and clinical changes associated with PD risk, onset, and progression. WCG IRB will review all PPMI research protocols and patient-facing communications, including patient recruitment, retention, and informed consent documents, and in-study instructions.

“We are extremely pleased to be partnering with WCG IRB on PPMI. Both of our organizations are patient-centric and ethically focused, so it is a natural fit,” said MJFF Deputy CEO and Head of Research Sohini Chowdhury. “Our Foundation is always looking for the smartest ways to advance breakthroughs and validate new findings to help develop safe and effective medications for people with PD. That includes identifying and building relationships with experienced partners in our industry.”

PPMI launched in 2010 to better understand PD and develop tools to advance new treatments. The study is building on its recruitment of more than 1,400 individuals with plans to now grow to 4,000 participants at 50 medical centers in 12 countries. Additionally, in 2021, PPMI launched an online platform to collect health and wellness data from adult volunteers in the U.S. Study participants respond to an online health and wellness survey every 90 days, allowing researchers to evaluate PD and age-related changes over time. The study hopes to enroll 100,000 participants in this part of PPMI, and has already recruited more than 20,000. With participants enrolled at medical centers and online, the study has created a comprehensive, standardized, open-access, longitudinal data set and biosample library, which continue to grow as new participants are recruited.

“MJFF and WCG are formidable partners because we share the same mission – to progress therapies to market as safely as possible,” said Mark McDonald, chief operating officer of WCG IRB. “We are proud to be supporting MJFF by bringing a tremendous amount of PD therapeutic expertise to the table, as well as robust regulatory review, in order to speed scientific breakthroughs. The expertise of our 200+ board members, our lean operational processes, and the ease-of-use of our submission portal were the most compelling features that MJFF considered in making this large-scale strategic decision.”

To give an indication of the value of these de-identified data sets that MJFF is collecting – researchers have downloaded PPMI data more than 10 million times; on average 2,200 times every day. PPMI data has been used by biopharmaceutical companies to help design more than 20 clinical studies for new PD treatments. PPMI has also been cited in more than 400 scientific publications.

PPMI is sponsored by MJFF and funded by a consortium of more than 40 industry partners, non-profit organizations, and private individuals.

Additional information about PPMI is available at

and a list of the recruiting sites can be found at Researchers can apply for access to PPMI data at

WCG previously partnered with MJFF on the redesign of its Fox Trial Finder clinical study matching tool, which makes it easier for people with PD and healthy volunteers to find and participate in clinical trials. That tool is now powered by WCG CenterWatch iConnect. Read more about that partnership, here.

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