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Researchers from the Oxford Parkinson’s Disease Centre (OPDC) recently hosted Caroline Rassell, Parkinson’s UK Chief Executive; David Dexter, Associate Research Director; Trustee Board members, Gary Shaughnessy (Chair) and Sally Bromley; together with members of the Parkinson’s UK Oxford Branch committee, for a visit to showcase the research being carried out in Oxford.

L-R Lorraine Dyson (OPDC), Dr Brent Ryan (OPDC), Mark Jennings (Parkinson’s UK Oxford), Martin Cowell (Parkinson’s UK Oxford), Gary Shaughnessy (Parkinson’s UK), Caroline Rassell (Parkinson’s UK),                       Paul Mayhew-Archer (Parkinson’s UK Oxford), Sally Bromley (Parkinson’s UK), Jonathan Bromley (Parkinson’s UK Oxford), Dr Charmaine Lang (OPDC), Dr Katherine Brimblecombe (OPDC), Kevin McFarthing (Parkinson’s UK Oxford), Maria Claudia Caiazza (OPDC), Nigel Hamilton (Parkinson’s UK Oxford).
Missing from photo: Professor Richard Wade-Martins (OPDC), Professor Michele Hu (OPDC) , Professor Stephanie Cragg (OPDC), David Dexter (Parkinson’s UK), Simon Rinaldi (University of Oxford), Pen Keyte (Parkinson’s UK Oxford), Jessica Welch (OPDC), Jamil Razzaque (OPDC), Professor Gabriele de Luca (University of Oxford), Dr Gina Hadley (University of Oxford). © Colin Beesley
L-R Lorraine Dyson (OPDC), Dr Brent Ryan (OPDC), Mark Jennings (Parkinson’s UK Oxford), Martin Cowell (Parkinson’s UK Oxford), Gary Shaughnessy (Parkinson’s UK), Caroline Rassell (Parkinson’s UK), Paul Mayhew-Archer (Parkinson’s UK Oxford), Sally Bromley (Parkinson’s UK), Jonathan Bromley (Parkinson’s UK Oxford), Dr Charmaine Lang (OPDC), Dr Katherine Brimblecombe (OPDC), Kevin McFarthing (Parkinson’s UK Oxford), Maria Claudia Caiazza (OPDC), Nigel Hamilton (Parkinson’s UK Oxford). Missing from photo: Professor Richard Wade-Martins (OPDC), Professor Michele Hu (OPDC) , Professor Stephanie Cragg (OPDC), David Dexter (Parkinson’s UK), Simon Rinaldi (University of Oxford), Pen Keyte (Parkinson’s UK Oxford), Jessica Welch (OPDC), Jamil Razzaque (OPDC), Professor Gabriele de Luca (University of Oxford), Dr Gina Hadley (University of Oxford).

The visit began with Sally Bromley welcoming everyone to the event, which was affectionately known as the ‘Parkinson’s UK Grand Day Out’, followed by presentations by Mark Jennings, Committee Member, and Martin Cowell, Acting Branch Chair from the Parkinson’s UK Oxford Branch.

Professor Richard Wade-Martins highlighted the collaborative and multidisciplinary research that has been carried out by the OPDC over the past ten years, the new laboratory research facilities at the Kavli Institute Nanoscience for Discovery, South Parks Road, and our exciting future plans.

Dr Simon Rinaldi, Associate Professor of Neurology, University of Oxford, gave an overview of the National Institute for Health and Care Research Clinical Research Network and its support for patients, the public and health and care organisations to participate in clinical research. Just before lunch, we were treated to a talk by Paul Mayhew-Archer, who gave his entertaining and humorous thoughts and observations to living with Parkinson’s disease (PD).

After lunch, Dr Charmaine Lang and Dr Brent Ryan spoke about their research as a prelude to leading guided tours of the Laboratory of Molecular Neurodegeneration. During the tour, everyone had the opportunity to meet with laboratory scientists who showcased the specialist equipment used to support their experiments.

There was a presentation by Professor Stephanie Cragg, who spoke about the recent $9 million award from the Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s (ASAP) initiative to the University of Oxford which Professor Cragg led which will map the fundamental brain circuits vulnerable to Parkinson’s on an unprecedented scale.

Professor Richard Wade-Martins gave a presentation on the new £4 million Wellcome Trust Collaborative Award in Science funding led by the OPDC which will start in May 2022 focussing on the calcium compartments in the cell and their role in Parkinson’s.

The session concluded with a Questions and Answers session hosted and facilitated by Dr Katherine Brimblecombe from the Cragg Research Group and Maria Claudia Caiazza from the Wade-Martins Research Group.

The group left the South Parks Science area mid-afternoon to visit the John Radcliffe Hospital, where guests were given an insight to the clinical research led by Professor Michele Hu. A series of presentations and demonstrations were given by OPDC members who spoke about the digital advances in Parkinson’s research (including the updated sleep-wearables kit), the novel biomarkers for Parkinson’s and REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD), the OPDC smartphone test, some of the future avenues of research we want to explore (including exercise), and also discussed work to make the next generation of doctors more aware of the disease.

The day concluded by attending the Parkinson’s UK Oxford Branch monthly meeting where Caroline Rassell, Gary Shaughnessy and OPDC scientists were able to participate and meet branch members.

Professor Richard Wade-Martins commented, “The visit was a great opportunity for us to meet and engage with Parkinson’s UK and members of the local Oxford branch. It was a brilliant day packed full of great interactions and discussions. We found the visit extremely valuable to get an insight into the experiences of people with Parkinson's.”