Researcher’s meeting, July 2017

On a sunny Saturday morning the 15th July, the MRC Toxicology Unit at Leicester University hosted the fifth annual Parkinson’s East Midlands Research Support Network (EMRSN) researchers meeting.  Over 20 Parkinson’s patients, carers and researchers gathered at the Unit to learn more about current research taking place across the East Midlands. The unique aspects of this meeting were first, its dual purpose of showcasing the speaker’s work and giving the opportunity to learn/cross-reference from each other, and second the audience consisted of only a few research followers but these followers were either fund-raisers, ex-researchers, event organisers, etc. All were or have been pro-active in assisting the advancement of research into Parkinson’s.

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Dr. Katlyn Green describing the Path Finder laser-guided shoes that help prevent falls caused by ‘freezing of gait’

Amanda Harris, HR Lead for the Unit, opened the morning with an overview of the Medical Research Council and the Toxicology Unit.  This was followed by talks from Nicoleta Moisoi, Katlyn Green, Pavel Gershkovich, Lisa Chakrabarti and Dorothee Auer.  Each talk ended with a Q&A session where everyone engaged in a lively conversation and Katlyn’s talk included a demonstration of a novel laser guided walking aid system that helps balance and reduces ‘freezing.’ I (Lionel) have tested this system and it certainly worked for me! Want to know more then please contact Katlyn at katlyn@walkwithpath.com

The morning’s talks were followed by a tour of Miguel Martins’ lab which focuses on mitochondrial signalling pathways of toxicity associated with neurodegenerative

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Kath Elkin being shown research techniques by Ivana Celardo, a researcher. This particular assay is used to measure movement defects in fruit flies used in Miguel’s lab.

diseases.  Visitors observed research in action and discussed experiments with Unit scientists. One of the audience members had previously worked in a neighbouring lab with the same model organinsm, Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies) and among other things we learned that the flies used by these researchers are all male (why)? Look at the whole of the blog and you will find a couple of articles devoted to this research. This was an valuable experience not only to the visitors to Miguel’s lab but also to the researchers explaining the research. According to Miguel’s team, there are not many opportunities for them to explain their research to non-scientists. Non-scientists often ask much more challenging questions, compared to their scientist colleagues…

Discussions continued over lunch where patients, carers and researchers learned more about each other and how scientific research directly impacts the lives of those living with Parkinson’s. Indeed, it would be true to say that without researchers like Miguel and his team there would be no prospect of a future cure or even at the very least better treatments that could make life more bearable for advanced Parkinson’s  patients.

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Buffet lunch at the MRC Toxicology Unit

The event was well received by all, with feedback from the EMRSN Chair claiming ‘this was the best researchers meeting yet’.

This article was a collaboration between Miguel and Lionel and yes! I did say (Lionel)  ‘this was the best researchers meeting yet’. Our thanks to all involved and we look forward to next year’s meeting.

DM

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