Acclaimed actor, author, fund raiser and advocate supporting the fight against Parkinson's disease, Michael J. Fox has been bestowed an honorary doctor of medicine degree from Karolinska Institutet. Over the past decade, the Stockholm university has been among recipients of funds totaling almost $175 million from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.

Founder of the foundation that bears his name, Fox himself was obliged to truncate an energetic and brilliantly successful entertainment career in order to battle the disease. In the last decade, his organization has amassed funds that have contributed to awareness regarding Parkinson's disease as well as drug development research around the world.

Moreover, although evoking derisive unguarded remarks about his illness from former Pres. George W. Bush, Fox has steadfastly remained a powerful advocate for research freedom and the pursuit of embryonic stem cell-based therapeutic strategies in U.S. laboratories.

"In its short history, the Michael J. Fox Foundation has gained the admiration and respect of the worldwide research community for its rigorous scientific standards and its commitment to quickly and aggressively funding high-impact therapeutic development," pointed out Dean Clara H. Gumpert from Karolinska's honorary doctor selection board.

During the presentation on March 5, Gumpert emphasized that, "Strongly influenced by Michael's personal philosophy, his foundation operates with rare dynamism and a constant focus on speeding breakthrough treatments to the world's five million Parkinson's patients."

Invited guests witnessed the ceremony at the private residence of Sweden's Honorary Consul General in New York, David E. R. Dangoor. Participating in the ceremony were also Prof. Jan Andersson, VP of Karolinska Institutet, and Professor Johan Ericson, representing the research field.

Born in Canada in 1961, Fox began his career by performing in TV series in his homeland at an early age starting in 1973. Although today holding an array of honorary degrees and conventional diplomas that he has earned, Fox admits it was a regrettable "teenage mistake" that he never completed his high school education.

The 48 year old Fox added that the honor he received was "especially meaningful because our Foundation and Karolinska Institutet share a belief in the power of scientific endeavor to create a future that is better for everyone, and a commitment to act strategically - even unconventionally - to help bring that future closer."

Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1991 and revealed his affliction to viewers and fans in 1998.

His extensive career include the science fiction fantasy comedy films in the "Back to the Future" series as well as 176 episodes in the U.S. national TV hit, "Family Ties." In 1991, while filming his classic comedy movie, "Doc Hollywood," Fox he noticed his finger twitching uncontrollably. During his period working as the lead actor on the popular American TV series, "Spin City," due to Parkinson's Disease, he often hid his left shaking hand in his pocket.

Despite physical difficulties, he has been appearing regularly in a variety of TV roles and hosted an emotional segment recently at closing ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games. In recent years, he has authored three books of his memoirs. Praised for his activities to promote research and awareness of Parkinson’s disease and the need for improved treatments and a cure, Fox founded the foundation in 2000 and, today, it has become the world’s largest private funder of Parkinson’s research.

The university has been the scene of medical discoveries that have improved people's lives around the world, and this year, Karolinska Institutet, which also awards the Nobel Prize in Medicine, is celebrating its bicentennial.

Honorary doctorates at Karolinska Institutet are awarded to scholars as well as persons who do not hold diplomas, but have nonetheless benefited research and development through other means. Previous such recipients of honorary doctorates include Microsoft's founder, Bill Gates (2008) and South Africa's peace activist and former president, Nelson Mandela (2005).

More info about Karolinska,see www.ki.se and about the Michael J Fox foundation, see www.michaeljfox.org