Parkinson’s UK research support network meeting


On Saturday I was up in Birmingham attending the Parkinson’s UK research support network meeting. A fascinating day, with some great updates on the research being funded by the charity and some very moving contributions from Parkinson’s patients.


Talk at the Royal Latin School


I was delighted to go back to my old school today to give a talk to the year 13 students about how genetics is changing some of our thinking with regard to neuroscience, and it was great to see the new science discovery centre (shown above) at first hand. Brilliant new labs and teaching facilities for a new generation of budding scientists.

Welcome James

It is my pleasure to welcome James Tomkins to the lab. James has just started a four year PhD funded by the BBSRC, in partnership with BC platforms (a bioinformatics platform company). I’ll let James introduce himself:


“In 2014, I graduated with a BSc in Biology from Liverpool John Moores University and have recently completed an MSc Molecular Medicine degree from the University of Sheffield. During my Masters course, I undertook a research project in Dr Andrew Grierson’s laboratory at the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN), investigating the therapeutic potential of a novel small molecule on histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6) inhibition for neurodegenerative disorders.

Last month I joined Dr Patrick Lewis’ research group at the University of Reading to begin my PhD studies funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). The overarching aim of my project is to define the role of Death Associated Protein Kinase 1 (DAPK1) in relation to cell fate. Firstly, I will investigate the biochemical mechanisms that underlie the functioning of DAPK1 and later use new advances in genomic and proteomic analysis, with assistance from BC Platforms in Finland, to understand the molecular interactions downstream of DAPK1. The importance of this research is that DAPK1 has implications on fundamental cellular processes including programmed cell death and autophagy. Hence, this protein has been extensively linked to cancer, in particular leukaemias and lymphomas, and therefore DAPK1 is a potential target in cancer therapy. Also, evidence is emerging regarding the involvement of DAPK1 in neurodegeneration, which is an area I am keen to explore. In addition, this research will further our understanding of the biology of ROCO proteins which includes LRRK2, the leading genetic cause of Parkinson’s Disease.”

Sally Bromley talk

Last week we were very fortunate to have a talk from Sally Bromley, visiting from the Oxford Parkinson’s UK branch. Sally was talking to our final year pharmacists, explaining what living with Parkinson’s is like and the problems that she has encountered. As always this was an amazing talk, and our final years have been given a really important insight into the patient perspective on Parkinson’s.