NEW YORK and SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 29, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF) announces Duygu Tosun-Turgut, PhD, assistant professor of radiology and biomedical imaging at UC San Francisco and co-director of the Center for Imaging of Neurodegenerative Diseases at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Health Care System; and Fei Wang, PhD, assistant professor of health care policy and research at Weill Cornell Medicine as winners of the MJFF-led 2016 Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) Data Challenge. Each will receive a $25,000 award furnished by MJFF and supported in part by GE Healthcare. The contest asked data analysts to provide a model of either Parkinson's disease subtypes or baseline predictors of progression using data from PPMI, a longitudinal biomarkers study sponsored by MJFF. Such tools could accelerate testing of new Parkinson's treatments by assisting in trial design and subject stratification. "The Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative offers a rich pool of open-access data from which to make connections that advance our understanding of Parkinson's disease and impact how we approach drug development," said Mark Frasier, PhD, MJFF senior vice president of research programs. "The award encouraged scientists from other disciplines to lend their expertise to our efforts to find a cure. Drs. Tosun-Turgut and Wang have provided a strong basis to build on." The PPMI Data Challenge offered applicants the opportunity to partner with Parkinson's researchers to advise on their projects. Collaboration between computational and disease experts can direct analyses toward measures and features most relevant to the field. PPMI has enrolled nearly 1,000 volunteers to date — people with Parkinson's or with risk factors, as well as control participants — at 33 clinical sites around the world. In the course of a minimum of five years' participation, volunteers contribute clinical and imaging data and biological samples.