Parkinson’s Centre (ParkC)
The Parkinson’s Centre (ParkC) at Curtin’s Neuroscience Laboratory brings together not-for-profit community groups and academic staff from multiple disciplines and institutions (both locally and internationally) that have a dedicated interest in Parkinson’s and expertise in health and ageing research. In particular ParkC works closely with Parkinsons Western Australia.
We believe that this cohesive and holistic approach will result in the best outcome for people with Parkinson’s. Our aspiration is for ParkC research to contribute towards the discovery of a cure for Parkinson’s and to significantly contribute to the wellbeing and health of people with Parkinson’s.
- Director: Dr Andrea Loftus
- Co-Director: Dr Romola Bucks
- Co-Director: A/Prof Natalie Gasson
- Co-Director: Dr Meghan Thomas
Dr Meghan Thomas is a developmental neurobiologist who received her PhD from the School of Animal Biology, University of Western Australia. Meghan founded the Parkinson’s Centre with the help of an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant. Meghan’s research interests include the role of transcription factors such as the Pax genes and stem cell biology in Parkinson’s disease. Although Meghan now works with the Health Department of WA, she remains an active member of ParkC.
- Research Assistant: Miss Caitlin Timms
Caitlin is the Research Assistant (RA) for ParkC. As the RA, Caitlin coordinates the testing of people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) as part of the longitudinal study “Cognitive and Motor Heterogeneity in Idiopathic Parkinson’s Disease”. Caitlin is also involved in training and supervising Curtin Psychology students on administration and scoring of neuropsychological and motor assessments in PD. Caitlin completed a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) in 2012 at Curtin University. Caitlin’s Honours dissertation focused on the impact of coping strategies on quality of life and depression in Parkinson’s. Caitlin’s position is currently funded by the School of Psychology’s Research Allocation Fund.
- Blake Lawrence – PhD student
- Rebecca Perera – PhD student
- Tania Al-Kaisi – Honours student
- Erika Rutherford – Honours student
- Henry James – Honours student
- Andrew Johnson – Honours student
Andrew’s honours research is exploring the prediction of working memory decline in the motor subtypes of Parkinson’s Disease.
- Stephanie Holmes – Honours student
Stephanie’s honours project is examining which motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease predict depression in those with Parkinson’s Disease.
The variety of symptoms associated with Parkinson’s highlights the heterogeneous nature of this condition. We believe that Parkinson’s may consist of a group of related disorders which have overlapping symptoms but which can be segregated into distinct subtypes. Determining these subtypes and identifying the subsequent symptom progression will have major implications in diagnosis and subsequent treatment of people with Parkinson’s.
The ParkC Heterogeneity Study aims to identify subtypes of Parkinson’s in the hope that treatments and interventions can be tailored to meet the needs of individuals with Parkinson’s.
We are currently looking for people with Parkinson’s to participate in our study.
We know that Parkinson’s is not a uniform condition. No two people experience Parkinson’s in quite the same way. In addition to motor symptoms that include tremor, rigidity or dyskinesia, many people experience non-motor symptoms such as difficulties with memory and reasoning, problems with sleep and mood disturbances.
If you choose to be involved in the project, we will send you out a pack of questionnaires to be completed at home before your appointment at ParkC (located at Curtin’s Perth Campus).
The questionnaires will ask about your mood, how well you sleep, your personality and how Parkinson’s affects your daily life. You will then attend an appointment at ParkC, where we will run through some verbal memory and thinking tasks. After that, we will ask you to complete some tasks on a computer (the computer has a touch screen so there is no need to be a computer whizz). We will then ask you to perform some simple movements that will enable us to assess your motor symptoms. The entire session will take about 2.5 hours and we will take breaks as needed.