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Cardiff researchers host public showcase for World Parkinson’s Day 2022

11 04 22 Mh World Pd Day Conference 62

This World Parkinson’s Day (11 April), researchers from the UK DRI Centre at Cardiff welcomed people affected by the condition to hear about the latest cutting-edge research in the field, and discuss future therapeutic prospects for the disease. A portion of the event was broadcast virtually and can now be accessed online.

Parkinson's disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer's, with 1 in 37 people alive today in UK diagnosed with the condition during their lifetime. World Parkinson’s Day takes place on 11 April every year to raise awareness of the disease, involving hundreds of events and initiatives across the country.

This year, the team from UK DRI at Cardiff, led by Research Associate Dr Lucia F. Cardo, organised a public engagement event at the Centre to showcase the innovative Parkinson’s studies being carried out there – from stem cells and flies, to blood biomarkers to track disease.

On the motivation to host the public event, Dr Lucia F. Cardo, said:

“Since starting my PhD looking into the genetics of this disease, World Parkinson’s Day for has always been an event in my calendar. The local Parkinson’s support branch in Asturias, Spain, used to invite researchers to join them every year and I have such nice memories of celebrating with them. I’ve been working in the Parkinson’s group with Prof Webber for several years now, and with the end of lockdown restrictions, I thought it would be amazing to run a public engagement event in Cardiff. Everyone I spoke to was very keen to be involved, so we started work on making it a reality.”

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Following a welcome tea and coffee, the 14 in-person attendees heard a series of talks from researchers working across a range of techniques and topics. This was also broadcast live via webinar to over 60 people watching online. Prof Phil Taylor began proceedings with an overview of the UK DRI, the Centre at Cardiff and the upcoming presentations.

The four speakers and their talks were:

- Dr Nabila Farah Rahman (Research Associate, Sandor Lab) – Analysis of blood cell types – One step towards personalised medicine in Parkinson’s

- Dr Daniel Maddison (Research Associate, Smith Lab) – Using fruit flies to model Parkinson’s

- Dr David Harrison (Research Associate, Beccano-Kelly Lab) – Learning about Parkinson’s from mice

- Dr Matthieu Trigano (Research Associate, Webber Lab) – Stem cells to study Parkinson’s

A very informative and interesting visit where we were made to feel welcomed - very well organised event from start to finish. Was good to have the opportunity to speak to the researchers. Attendee at in-person event

Before the close of the session attendees heard a special poem ‘I wonder what she’s thinking’ from Jeff Lawrence, a volunteer for Parkinson’s UK who has been diagnosed with the disease. To finish the afternoon, a social lunch provided an ideal opportunity for attendees to chat with researchers further about their work.

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On the success of the event, Dr Lucia F. Cardo, said:

“The event was such a great experience for everybody, from the people helping with organization, to the speakers, the attendees and Parkinson’s UK Cymru members. The people who attended in person were delighted to finally have an event face-to-face and share time with researchers. Conversely, the Cardiff team were pleased to showcase their research and spend precious time with people affected by Parkinson’s and their relatives.

It was a challenge to run the event in a hybrid format, but we wanted to reach as many people as possible interested in the subject, and it worked out quite well in the end. Overall, we were very pleased with the outcome and look forward to World Parkinson’s Day in 2023!”

A recording of the full seminar section can be found on Youtube. To stay up to date on the latest research news and events from the UK DRI, sign up to receive our monthly newsletter, ‘Inside Eye on UK DRI'.

Article published: 12 July 2022
All images: Copyright owned by UK DRI Ltd

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