The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF) announces the promotion of Sohini Chowdhury to the role of deputy chief executive officer. In her previous capacity as senior vice president, Research Partnerships, Chowdhury was instrumental in driving the Foundation's innovative alliances with key Parkinson's research stakeholders for the benefit of the estimated five million people worldwide living with Parkinson's disease.
As Deputy CEO, Chowdhury will work closely with MJFF CEO Todd Sherer, Ph.D., as well as co-founder and executive vice chairman Debi Brooks in building the organization's capacity as a nimble, resourceful, patient-focused problem-solver that is demonstrably accelerating progress toward treatment breakthroughs and a cure. Chowdhury will continue to oversee the Research Partnerships team while taking on this broader organizational oversight.
Michael J. Fox said, "Sohini brings vision, analytical and process expertise and passion to her work at the Foundation a rare combination that ideally suits her to implement groundbreaking change on behalf of people living with Parkinson's disease. The board is confident in her ability to continue driving vital innovation as we keep pushing the field toward near-term research breakthroughs that will tangibly impact patients' lives."
Chowdhury joined the Foundation in 2005. Early on she established and led the Foundation's formal industry strategy, building fruitful ongoing relationships with pharmaceutical and biotech firms as research partners (spearheading more than $120 million in industry-led projects funded by MJFF to date) and as sponsors of the Foundation's scientific and educational programs.
Charged with establishing a new Research Partnerships team at MJFF in 2009 she continued to build the industry strategy while leading development of programs to increase patient engagement in Parkinson's research, including the Fox Trial Finder smart-match tool (more than 65,000 registered volunteers and counting) and Fox Insight, the Foundation's online longitudinal research study sourcing phenotypical data about the lived experience of Parkinson's disease from patients themselves (5,000 participants to date). The team also directs all grants administration for MJFF.
Chowdhury also is responsible for administrative and operational oversight of the MJFF-sponsored landmark clinical study PPMI, or the Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative, launched by MJFF in 2010 to identify and validate Parkinson's biomarkers. Under her leadership, working closely with Principal Investigator Ken Marek, M.D., and the PPMI Steering Committee, the study is now under way at 33 clinical sites around the world and has enrolled about 1,100 volunteers. Led by an elite roster of international Parkinson's investigators and supported by 20 pharmaceutical company co-funders, this public-private partnership has added unprecedented value to Parkinson's drug development. Having expanded its original protocol to include cutting-edge investigations of Parkinson's genetics and at-risk populations, and now serving the field as a model for Parkinson's study design, the PPMI dataset (available in real-time) also continues to be a resource for the broader global research community.
Chowdhury has also played a key role in implementing strategic operations and human resource management policies and resources consistent with the organization's continued growth. Key successes include building and launching the organization's formal Strategic HR team, led by senior vice president Jude Williamson, and integrating the Foundation's policy team, led by senior vice president Ted Thompson.