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Posts tagged ‘dementia’

Teaching old drugs new tricks

Research published today, funded by the MRC* and the Alzheimer’s Society’s Drug Discovery programme, has made important progress in the search for new treatments for dementia by re-purposing old drugs. Dr Louise Walker, Research Communications Officer at the Alzheimer’s Society, spoke to the scientist who led the research, Professor Giovanna Mallucci at the MRC Toxicology Unit, to find out more.

Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative brain diseases are characterised by the presence of misfolded proteins in the brain. These proteins are thought to have toxic effects on brain cells, but exactly how they contribute to dementia still remains a mystery.

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What happens to a donated brain?

In a previous blog post Susan Jonas explained why she plans to donate her brain to research. But what happens to a brain once it reaches a brain bank? How is it handled to make sure it is in the best possible state to use in research? Here Dr Candida Tasman and Dr Laura Palmer from the South West Dementia Brain Bank at the University of Bristol explain. 

Read more about Laura Palmer’s working life.

Find out more about brain banking on our website.

Working life: Brain bank manager Dr Laura Palmer

Dr Laura Palmer is the manager of the South West Dementia Brain Bank at the University of Bristol, which is part of the MRC-led UK Brain Banks Network. Here she tells us about her working life, the pressure of a part-time PhD, and why people are always fascinated by her job.

Laura Palmer

Career in brief

  • Undergraduate degree in pathology and microbiology
  • Eleven years at the South West Dementia Brain Bank, starting as the bank technician and becoming brain bank manager
  • Part-time PhD over eight years while working at the bank

As soon as I saw a job at the bank advertised I knew it was perfect for me. It brought together my degree knowledge with my interest in dementia stemming from my grandma’s vascular dementia. I didn’t have all of the necessary experience but I was persistent and keen to learn. At the time of my interview I was working nights in a supermarket!

Things have changed dramatically in the brain bank while I’ve been here. We’ve really grown and developed – we used to accept about 12 donations a year, now it’s more like 40. Public awareness of brain donation has increased really positively.

I called my PhD the ‘never-ending thesis’. It took eight years when I’d hoped to complete it in six. I began it part-time within about a year of starting to work here, funded by a wonderful local charity called BRACE which supports a lot of the bank’s work. Balancing my PhD with my job and trying to have a life was really difficult. It’s fantastic to be able to focus solely on my job now. Read more