October Insights into Parkinson’s Research

23andMe’s commitment to Parkinson’s research is in the company’s DNA. It goes back almost a decade to when we first launched our Parkinson’s research community, and  for many of us this interest is more than just professional, it’s personal.

We have both friends and family members who are living with the disease. Last month our Parkinson’s research community manager, Paul Cannon, shared his experience of undergoing surgery for Deep Brain Stimulation for treatment of his Parkinson’s.


Paul’s experience and others is what helps motivate the work and efforts like 23andMe’s recent sponsorship of fundraisers like the The Michael J. Fox Foundation’s (MJFF) Bay Area Fox Trot 5k to raise money and awareness for Parkinson’s research. This year our team — 23andMe Run DNA — of more than 100 employees and their family members raised about $12,000.

This fun way of getting involved also highlights one of our strongest allies in our efforts in Parkinson’s disease, MJFF. One year ago, the Foundation launched a new Parkinson’s research initiative called Fox Insight in collaboration with 23andMe.

Fox Insight is an online clinical study that collects self-reported data about health experiences from those with and without Parkinson’s, and aims to transform the search for better treatments for the disease. 23andMe and The Michael J. Fox Foundation have joined forces to help eligible participants add their genetic data to this study, which can allow researchers to create a more holistic understanding of the disease. This folds neatly into 23andMe’s long-standing goals of better understanding, treating and preventing the disease.


In the last year, Fox Insight enrollment has more than quadrupled to over 27,000 people and counting, and we hope that thousands, even hundreds of thousands, more will participate.

To educate people about genetic research and how it could help us overcome knowledge and treatment gaps in Parkinson’s, MJFF created a new video to explain what genetics is teaching us about the disease. As movement disorder specialist and Michael J. Fox Foundation Scientific Advisor Dr. Susan Bressman puts it,

“Advances coming out of genetic research today offer one of our best chances to develop drugs that will help everyone living with Parkinson’s whether they have a (genetic) mutation (for the disease) or not.”

That’s because insights from genetic research can help scientists better understand how Parkinson’s develops, why it manifests itself differently in some people, and why some individuals who carry a genetic mutation associated with Parkinson’s never develop the disease. Studying both those with and without Parkinson’s illuminates these questions. Take a moment to check out the video and learn more about Fox Insight.