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How One Billionaire Is Trying to Fight Parkinson’s Through Competition: Brainstorm Health

September 23, 2019, 9:49 PM UTC

Happy Monday, readers. I hope you had a wonderful weekend.

This morning, Fortune published an exclusive first look into a joint effort by Ken Griffin, the billionaire founder and CEO of investment fund Citadel, and the Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) to tackle Parkinson’s disease.

You can read my full write-up of the $10 million program, largely funded by Griffin and dubbed the Ken Griffin Alpha-synuclein Imaging Competition, right over here. It is, frankly, fascinating—a competition meant to suss out methods of tracing a telltale protein that’s present in almost every Parkinson’s patient’s brain.

Here’s the biological twist: As of now, the clumps of this particular protein can only be identified after a patient has already died. Researchers vying for the prize money will try to develop technologies that can locate the proteins in an actual, live brain. The hope is that such a real-time tracker can spur targeted drug development and help monitor disease progression. And groups which make the most progress in a short period of time will nab more reward money.

Again, you can read all the details here (I spoke with executives from the Michael J. Fox Foundation and Griffin himself).

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t point you to Fortune‘s latest Most Powerful Women list, which went online this morning. This is the 22nd running of the list and, unsurprisingly, includes several powerhouse officials in health care. More on that soon (especially after our MPW International list is released shortly).

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee, @the_sy_guy,


Report: Juul faces criminal probe in California. The Wall Street Journal reports that federal prosecutors in California are circling e-cig maker Juul (at this point, who isn't) with a criminal probe. Juul had not responded to a request for comment as of press time, but we'll let you know if and when they do.  (Wall Street Journal)


Novo Nordisk snags a significant win in diabetes market. Novo Nordisk, the insulin-making giant that once dominated the diabetes treatment space outright (but has faced increasing competition in recent years), just notched a significant win. The FDA approved an oral tablet version of its diabetes drug semaglutide last week. To be sold under the brand name Rybelsus, this pill belongs to the GLP-1 class of treatments and is meant to control blood sugar in type 2 diabetes patients—and the fact that it can be taken in simple pill form, rather than through an injection, could give it a major leg up over competitors in the massive diabetes market.  (Reuters)


There's a growing concern over Ebola in Tanzania—and the country's secrecy. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that Tanzania may be shielding details about potential Ebola cases in the country, raising major concerns among global health officials. Pandemics tend to flourish in secrecy; a lack of communication makes it just that much harder to contain an outbreak. And given recent Ebola outbreaks, it's no surprise that the WHO is concerned. (BBC News)


Here's How We Can Achieve More Gender Parity in Businessby Aric Jenkins

The Fed's $400 Billion Plan to Bailout the Repo Marketby Alexander Saeedy

Fortune's Most Powerful Women List Is Rich With Techby Adam Lashinsky

Keep These 10 Powerful Women on Your Radarby Fortune Editors

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