Brain Question Time at the University of Reading

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We’ll be hosting an exciting question time event here at the University of Reading on the 14th of September, focused on everything to do with the brain.

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Behind the scenes at the Bodleian library

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I spent this morning at the Bodleian library up in Oxford, leafing through the published works of James Parkinson in preparation for an upcoming exhibition on his life at the library. I felt very privileged to handle some of the rare 18th and 19th century manuscripts that the Bodleian has locked away in its vaults, and am very much looking forward to the exhibition in a few months time!

Sir William Borlase School Masterclass

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On Friday I gave back to back talks to year 12 students at Sir William Borlase’s school in Marlow, talking about Parkinson’s disease and a career in biomedical research. I’ve been involved in the masterclass day at Sir William Borlase’s school for a number of years now, but I never stop being impressed by the knowledge and insight of the pupils in these sessions.

Derek Burke Viva Voce

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I had the pleasant task of acting as an external examiner on Tuesday for Derek Burke, a PhD student at the Institute of Child Health/Great Ormond Street Hospital. Derek has been working on the role of Glucocerebrosidase in Parkinson’s disease for the last seven years, and provided an excellent defence of his thesis. Many congratulations to Dr Burke!

Farnborough Sixth Form College

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I spent the morning yesterday at the Farnborough 6th form college moving on day, a careers and university fair held by the college. I talked about some of the research in the group, and answered questions about a career in pharmacy and in research. I was very impressed with the scale of the event – the college has several thousand students!

PLoS Medicine article online

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Just out in PLoS Medicine, a study from Alastair Noyce on the interplay between body mass index (BMI) and risk for Parkinson’s disease. This uses a genetic technique called Mendelian randomisation to test whether there is a causal link between two areas of biology. Fascinatingly Alastair’s results suggests that increased BMI is associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson’s, although what underlies this link isn’t clear and there are significant health implications of raised BMI beyond PD. A very thought provoking piece indeed.

Read all about it at:

http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1002314

Biotrinity meeting

OBN_Biotrinity_Banner 600x154I spent yesterday over at the Biotrinity meeting in London, talking about some of the recent research going on in across neurodegeneration on the interaction between the gut microbiome and changes in the brain that lead to cell death as part of a panel discussion. Fascinating meeting, with a very different focus to the more academically orientated meetings that I normally attend.