2020 Tom Isaacs Award honors leading Parkinson’s expert

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Sept. 25, 2020) — Van Andel Institute and The Cure Parkinson’s Trust are thrilled to announce Caroline Tanner, M.D., Ph.D., of University of California, San Francisco’s Weill Institute for Neurosciences as the recipient of the 2020 Tom Isaacs Award, which honors individuals who have had a significant impact on the lives of people with Parkinson’s and/or involved them in a participatory way in research.

The award was presented today during the annual Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease symposium and Rallying to the Challenge meeting, both of which were held virtually this year.

Caroline Tanner, M.D., Ph.D.

Throughout her inspiring career, Tanner has sought to better understand the causes of Parkinson’s and to develop better treatments for those with the disease. She has conducted pivotal work on environmental and genetic risk factors for Parkinson’s and other neurological conditions, while remaining active in patient care, teaching and publishing research.

“Professor Tanner exemplifies what it means to conduct research into a cure for Parkinson’s alongside patients every step of the way, working directly with them to help shape and guide the research,” said Sue Buff, founder of PDTrialTracker. Buff nominated Tanner for this year’s award.

Tanner’s commitment to involving the Parkinson’s community is exemplified by her work with people with Parkinson’s, advocates and policymakers to get the California Parkinson’s Disease Registry implemented, which will continue to inform important further research into the causes of Parkinson’s. She also is the principal investigator of Fox Insight, an online clinical study facilitated by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research that aims to build a large cohort of people with Parkinson’s to provide the research community with critical insight into the lived experience, genetics and variability of Parkinson’s.

Tanner is also involved with numerous boards and committees, including the Scientific Advisory Board of The Michael J. Fox Foundation, the Epidemiology Task Force of the Movement Disorders Society and The Cure Parkinson’s Trust–Van Andel Institute International Linked Clinical Trials Committee.

The Tom Isaacs Award was established in 2017 in memory of Trust co-founder and Parkinson’s community champion Tom Isaacs. Since 2014, VAI and The Cure Parkinson’s Trust have collaborated on the International Linked Clinical Trials, an initiative to investigate medications designed for other diseases as potential therapies for Parkinson’s disease. To learn more about Dr. Tanner and her achievements, please read The Cure Parkinson’s Trust’s story here.


Van Andel Institute (VAI) is an independent nonprofit biomedical research and science education organization committed to improving the health and enhancing the lives of current and future generations. Established by Jay and Betty Van Andel in 1996 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, VAI has grown into a premier research and educational institution that supports the work of more than 400 scientists, educators and staff. VAI’s research division is dedicated to determining the epigenetic, genetic, molecular and cellular origins of cancer, Parkinson’s and other diseases and translating those findings into effective therapies. The Institute’s scientists work in onsite laboratories and participate in collaborative partnerships that span the globe. Learn more about Van Andel Institute at vai.org.

The Cure Parkinson’s Trust (CPT) has one bold aim — to cure Parkinson’s. CPT funds pioneering research around the world which is dedicated to finding new treatments that can slow, stop or reverse Parkinson’s. Further information is at www.cureparkinsons.org.uk. CPT is a registered charity in England and Wales (1111816) and Scotland (SCO44368).

Media Contacts

Beth Hinshaw
Van Andel Institute
[email protected]

Rachel Cunniffe
The Cure Parkinson’s Trust
[email protected]
01923 779555