Short Report on DRIG’s Spring Conference 2018

By Marc van Grieken, DRIG Chairman


On Tuesday 26th June, the recently established Dundee Research Interest Group (DRIG) held its first public event: a conference with the title ‘Unveiling some of the Mechanisms which trigger Parkinson’s’.

The event was attended by approximately 80 people either directly, by having Parkinson’s or indirectly (as family member or carer) affected by Parkinson’s and addressed by 5 speakers and 5 PhD Students and postdoctorial researchers.

Prof Ken Bowler introduced the history and successes of the Edinburgh Research Interest Group which was the first one to be set up in the UK and his talk was followed by Marc van Grieken who gave a brief personal account of his diagnosis and the years following this.

The main part of the event however comprised three in depth presentations:

Firstly by Prof Dario Alessi who explained the discovery of specific pathways and mutated genes (LRRK2) that trigger Parkinson’s and by identifying these pathways open up the opportunity to ‘block’ or inhibit the effect of these.

He was followed by Dr Esther Sammler who is both a clinical neurologist consultant but also researches at Dario Alessi’s MRC unit concentrating on inhibiting the mutated gene and who is about to commence on sampling a test the researchers have developed

The final talk was by Dr Mitatul Muqit who studies two further genes PINK1 and Parkin and is setting out a framework for clinicians to increase and translate knowledge and understanding leading to better treatments.

The talks were followed by Q&A sessions and there was also time to talk on an individual basis to the researchers and students.