Laura Parkkinen

Affiliation: University of Oxford

Link to group website: website

Bio

Dr Laura Parkkinen is Associate Professor and Director of the Oxford Brain Bank in Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford with almost 20 years of expertise in neuropathological research and diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and related synucleinopathies e.g. dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). Her research occupies a unique interdisciplinary niche spanning clinical neuropathology, molecular biology, protein chemistry and genetics to investigate mechanisms, drug targets and peripheral biomarkers for PD and DLB.  Dr Parkkinen has worked in four different brain banks (Finland, Barcelona, University College London, Oxford) giving her solid understanding of many practical issues of brain banking varying from donation programs to methodology and diagnostics. She has led and been part of several initiatives to optimize and harmonize diagnostic practice regarding neuropathological evaluation of PD/DLB. This work has led to some important consensus papers currently used in the clinical practice. Her work continues to innovate with application of next-generation neuropathology (i.e. digital pathology and deep learning algorithms) and spatial transcriptomics in order to understand how gene expression may drive or be linked to the underlying pathological changes. Her group is also focused on investigating structural differences in patient-derived α-synuclein “strains” in the gut-brain axis. Uncovering the different structures and biochemical properties of α-synuclein aggregates in different vulnerable regions, over the course of the disease, will improve our mechanistic understanding of the disease and could reveal targets for therapeutic intervention.