Michael J. Fox Foundation Admits They Need To Do More For Diversity

By Jeynaba Jamanka

In order for change to happen, there must first be recognition of what has gone wrong or what is not working. In a recently published position paper called “A Call to Action: Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Parkinson’s Research and Care”, the staff at the Michael J. Fox Foundation recognized that their foundation and Parkinson’s research in general has not done a good job of including a wide and diverse range of participants. However, Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) has committed itself to using participants that better reflect the diversity of people with Parkinson’s disease (PD). In their effort to decrease health disparities and improve the lives of all people suffering with PD, the foundation has newly outlined four specific areas of action: 1) identifying barriers and solutions to research participation; 2) funding inclusive research with greater participant diversity; 3) building a clinician/researcher workforce committed to health equity; and 4) supporting a more holistic understanding of PD (largely through more extensive global genetic testing for Parkinson’s risk factors)

After listing these main areas of improvement, the position paper also goes into specifics about how they plan to achieve their goals. Some of the steps they are already taking include funding new programs that integrate diversity into their research and establishing fellowships that train the next generation in inclusive research and health equity. They are also reviewing proposals to better include Black, Latino, Asian, Indigenous groups, LGBTQ+ communities, and people from low socioeconomic backgrounds in their research. This effort is significant because of how harmful poor representation in research can be. Without equity in research there is no way to ethically generalize findings as well as making effective treatments for everyone. The Michael J. Fox Foundation does seem to be taking accountability and creating clear and achievable goals, the true test will be seeing how well they stick to their plans. It is the responsibility of companies like MJFF to do their part in mending a broken healthcare system and it will be interesting to see if, and how, more organizations follow in their footsteps.


For more details on their approach, please see:

https://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-parkinsons-disease/jpd212593


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