Michael J. Fox Is The Optimist

Michael J. Fox has been off the air for a while dealing with Parkinson’s Disease and his foundation for the disease. He’s back though on ABC exploring the nature of optimism.
Fox will be exploring not only his own life but science as well.

Courant.com reports:

“For everything this disease has taken, something with greater value has been given,” Fox says. “It may be one step forward and two steps back, but after a time with Parkinson’s I’ve learned that what is important is making that one step count.”

Fox traveled to Bhutan in the Himalayan mountains to visit with the people. He said that the nation is unusually committed to the well-being of its citizens. The government even monitors its people with a Gross National Happiness program.

Michael J. Fox: Adventures Of An Incurable Optimist airs in the US in May.

Personally the star is having a great time with life. He and wife Tracy Pollan have been together for more than 20 years. At the start of his disease Fox admits there were a few rocky patches. He has advice on how to keep a marriage going.

“Here’s the thing with Tracy and me: We like focusing more on the comedy and less on the drama. The secret to a good marriage, as far as I am concerned, is a joke I make: Keep the fights clean and the sex dirty. Tracy and I are taken aback sometimes when people come up to us and give me this sad moon face and then they give Tracy a hug, and say, ‘You are so strong.’ We roll our eyes at each other, because we are having a really good time.”

Fox was diagnosed in 1991 but didn’t reveal his condition until 1998. From that time period he has been committed to campaigning for increased Parkinson’s research.

Fox has a book coming out in 2009 titled, Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist as a follow up to his 2002 memoir Lucky Man.

Fox is very involved with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. He is very happy with the steps that President Obama has recently forged with stem cell research. Overturning the ban of the research offers hope to those suffering from the disease.

“Today is a new day. I could not be more thrilled to see President Obama live up to his commitment to get politics out of science. We have seen, for the past eight years, how much damage the opposite approach has done to science and patients. Now that the President has taken this critical action, I am excited by the prospect of American scientists carrying human embryonic stem cell research forward toward better treatments and cures that will affect countless millions of lives.

“I commend the President for recognizing the inherent value of scientific freedom, and for helping to create an environment in which it can flourish.”

In February the foundation awarded approximately $1.9 million total to six teams that are developing neuroimaging technologies that would allow scientists to non-invasively visualize the clumping of the alpha-synuclein protein in the living human brain. The funding was provided by one of the Michael J. Fox Foundation’s supporters, The Edmond J. Safra Foundation in memory of its founder, Mr. Edmond J. Safra.

The research that is being funded is as follows:

Development and Screening of Contrast Agents for In Vivo Imaging of PD

Brian Bacskai, PhD, and Pamela McLean, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital (Harvard Medical School), Boston, Massachusetts

Utility of the Amyloid Ligand [18F] FDDNP in Human PET Imaging in Parkinson’s Disease

Yvette Bordelon, MD, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles

18F-labeled Alpha-Synuclein Ligands for PET Imaging of Lewy Bodies

Franz Hefti, PhD, Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, Inc., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Alan Snow, PhD, ProteoTech, Inc., Seattle, Washington

Generation of Alpha-Synuclein Conformation-specific Aptamers for In Vivo Bioimaging of Alpha-Synuclein Pathology
Poul Henning Jensen, MD, PhD, University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark

A Strategy to Develop a Radiotracer Targeting Alpha-Synuclein

Kenneth Marek, MD, Institute for Neurodegenerative Disorders, New Haven, Connecticut, and Omar El-Agnaf, PhD, United Arab Emirates University

In Vivo SPECT Imaging of Synuclein Aggregation with Morphology-specific Antibody-based Ligands

Michael Sierks, PhD, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona

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