Meet Arthur Roach, Director of Research of Parkinson's UK. Here he talks about his role at the charity and why he's excited about the future of Parkinson's research.
As the Director of Research I’m responsible for giving grants to universities and companies to carry out research into better understanding Parkinson’s and finding new treatments. I also get people with Parkinson’s involved with the work of those companies, and in the research we fund at Parkinson’s UK. The priority for the charity is to make sure the research we fund will make a real impact and difference for people with the condition.
Parkinson’s UK is really well respected among research companies. In particular we are known for being able to bring the perspective of people with Parkinson’s to projects at every stage. It adds great value to the Parkinson’s research going on around the UK.
The great thing about the charity is that we are really innovative in taking new ideas forward. The attitude is: let’s get a team together and make this happen. It’s a very invigorating environment to work in.
The biggest challenge for me is that there are 145,000 people with Parkinson’s in the UK, so we need to make sure we get everyone’s voices heard to reach a consensus of opinion when it comes to research. It’s tricky. It’s really important that people with Parkinson’s can help us to shape our research. Anyone can sign up for the Parkinson’s UK RSN, the Research Support Network. You can learn about upcoming research and hear about opportunities to be on advisory boards and help shape new ideas in Parkinson’s research.
We’re living in exciting times. At the moment the first treatments based on the genetic causes of Parkinson’s are coming to clinical testing. For example, Lark 2 inhibitors have been shown to cause Parkinson’s in some people. So when we know the cause, we can make drugs that target the cause. It’s an historic era in research, and I love being part of that.