Caroline Rassell, Chief Executive
"I feel very lucky to have joined Parkinson's UK. It's clear from everyone I've met and everything I've seen already, that at the heart of the charity is a collective of people with a passion to make a real and lasting difference to people living with Parkinson's, their families and friends.
"Putting people affected by the condition at the heart of my work is something I've always strived to do.
"I have worked for a number of years both in local government and more recently in the NHS where I was the CEO for a health system pushing to provide opportunities for people to live well. Most recently I worked for the charity Versus Arthritis overseeing a strategic review of their services.
"I have, over the last few years completed the couch to 5km programme and become an avid park runner and well being advocate. I also recently returned to piano playing and am proud to say that there was a 40-year gap between passing grade 1 and grade 2!"
"I joined Parkinson's UK in May 2020 after a short career break. Before that, I was a corporate partner at a leading international law firm for nearly 30 years.
"In my role as General Counsel, I'm responsible for the leadership and management of the charity's governance, regulatory and legal function. I'm enjoying the opportunity to use my skills and experience to assist the charity in achieving its strategic objectives, including the development of the virtual biotech programme. I have a particular affinity to the charity as some of my family members were affected by Parkinson's.
"Having arrived at Parkinson's UK during the coronavirus restrictions, I have been impressed by the energy and enthusiasm of my colleagues and how well everyone has adapted to remote working."
"I joined Parkinson’s UK in 2018 with my previous roles focused on developing communities in England. I’m now privileged to be in a role which includes our highly valued information and support service, our work in local communities across the 4 nations, and support for volunteers and people who participate in the work of Parkinson’s UK.
"My previous roles have been in local Healthwatch and local government. My experience means that I recognise the immense value that volunteering and participation brings to Parkinson’s UK and the importance of good quality information and support services."
"I've spent more than 25 years in the UK voluntary sector, and have enjoyed every minute of it.
"I've learned a lot about how things work at the very small and very large ends of charity fundraising in that time, though at heart, I very much consider myself a 'jobbing fundraiser'. I love to roll up my sleeves and get on my bike, whenever possible, to do my bit.
"It's incredible that since 2009, when I started at Parkinson's UK, we've seen our annual income grow from £16m, to over £39m. But we can't rest on our laurels, as we work towards a near future when the Parkinson's community can celebrate a cure."
"I‘ve held various positions over my almost 40 year career including Scientific Director of the Parkinson’s UK Brain Bank and Deputy Head of the Division of Brain Sciences at Imperial College London, and most recently as the Associate Director of Research at Parkinson’s UK.
"My relationship with the charity started when they funded my PhD in 1985, so I’m very proud to now be stepping into a leadership role which oversees the research grants programme and portfolio of active projects. The research that’s happening in this area is not only building a pipeline of discoveries to fuel the Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech’s drug development and discovery work, it’s also helping us better understand the condition, how it develops, how we can monitor it and how symptoms can be managed in other ways, including non-drug approaches. All of this is vital work.
"In my new role, I will also oversee research communications and involvement, making sure that the views of people with Parkinson’s are taken into account in our work and that of others. Additionally, it is vital that we maximise the potential opportunities of people with Parkinson’s taking part in research. It’s an area that I’m passionate about as it’s vital to shaping the future of research."
"I have spent 25 years in research, discovery and development for drug companies and universities, working on projects developing new treatments for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and MS.
"My big preoccupation is with finding the best means to convert the genetic and biochemical discoveries of the past decade into new treatments that will make a difference to people with Parkinson's. I know that this means finding the best way to work with university researchers, biotech and pharma companies, and people living with Parkinson's.
"At Parkinson's UK, we've built the Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech into an international, patient-driven drug discovery and development programme. It uses methods from the business world to fast-track projects that show the most promise to create the new treatments that people with Parkinson’s urgently want and deserve. Even better, we do this with the funding provided by the Parkinson’s community and its many friends and supporters."
"I joined Parkinson's UK in August 2022 to head up a new External Relations directorate, thrilled to be joining such a passionate and community-focused charity. My teams lead our campaigns, media, marketing and communications activities, working alongside people affected by Parkinson's to make sure people know who we are, what support we offer and what change we are fighting for.
"Over the years before joining Parkinson's UK, I have worked in the civil service and the NHS in a number of health and research policy and communications jobs. I've led campaigns on issues including access to fertility treatment, organ donation opt-out, legalising embryonic stem cell research and putting lived experience at the heart of how clinical research is done. More recently, I led policy and partnerships work for the Health Research Authority during the coronavirus pandemic, helping to ensure that patient-centred research into COVID-19 vaccines and therapies could start as quickly as possible.
"Having grown up near the sea but now living in a city, I like to get to do coastal walks as often as I can."
Executive pay at Parkinson's UK
As part of our commitment to openness, we are happy to disclose information about senior staff salaries, and how salaries are governed.