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I started writing about the research being conducted in Parkinson’s in 2014.
If I’m honest, it was simply an experiment. Having failed to write the next great kiwi novel (think Katherine Mansfield, Margaret Mahy, Witi Ihimaera, Eleanor Catton, and most recently Rose Carlyle), to distract myself I started playing around with science writing to see if I liked it.
And what do ye know: I did
One thing led to another… and now there’s 500 posts on this thing called “The Science of Parkinson’s” (Click here for the full list).
In today’s post, we will revisit some of the key moments and thoughts on that journey.
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MOMENT OF CONCEPTION
The Science of Parkinson’s began life in the clinic room in the photo above.
It is clinic room 1 at the Brain Repair Centre at the University of Cambridge.
Back in 2014, yours truly had been working as a postdoctoral research scientist in Prof Roger Barker‘s lab, and (this will sound cliché, but) after almost 15 years of researching the biology of the Parkinson’s, I realised that I didn’t have much practical experience with the disease itself. Kind of like a taxi driver who thinks he has memorised all the roads, but has never actually climbed behind the wheel and interacted with a stranger wanting to be driven somewhere.
So I volunteered to help out in the clinic once or twice a week, doing some of the cognitive assessments.
It was straight forward work – leading folks through the various standardised tests – but the experience was extremely enlightening. Not just because one saw the heterogeneity of cases and the impact that the condition has on a human body (over time, with periodic visits), but also the human side of the whole beastly thing. You met and got to know the people affected and their families. You learnt their stories and listened to their lived experience of PD. It was a fascinating experience – one which further energized my efforts in the lab.
Everything had been going smoothly for about 8-9 months…
And then Martin Taylor walked in.