Clark shared the news on Twitter: “I’ve decided to donate
my brain to the Parkinson’s UK Brain Bank. I was so impressed with the research
work being carried out when I visited the facility with [Rory Cellan-Jones]”.
Clark has already raised thousands of pounds for
Parkinson’s UK, become a celebrity ‘Champion’ for the charity, and worked to
challenge stigma surrounding the condition.
He shared a video in which Cellan-Jones, a BBC technology correspondent who also has Parkinson’s, went behind the scenes of the Brain Bank at Imperial College London’s Hammersmith campus, in the UK. Cellan-Jones spoke to Professor Steve Gentleman in the dissection room, who explained that donated brain tissue is vital to research efforts. He concluded the visit by pledging his own brain.
Clark said: “The brain is the most precious thing we have.
It contains our loves, memories and our personality. Giving it to medical
research is the greatest gift I can offer. Imagine if your brain was the one
that unlocked a cure for this devastating neurological condition?”
He also highlighted that scientific research on brains was
“essential” to finding treatments for the condition.
In the UK, National Health Service organ donation is
considered distinct from brain donation – those wishing to pledge their brain
must submit separate forms to brain banks. Imperial College London is home to the
world’s only brain bank for Parkinson’s research and receives around 120
donations each year.
Fans and members of the Parkinson’s community shared their
admiration for Clark on Twitter, and contributed stories of how family members,
or they themselves, had also pledged their brains.
Twitter user Lisa was inspired by Clark and Cellan-Jones:
Twitter user, Kathryn Dainty, said that her parents had also decided to donate their brains:
While Twitter user Katie Hofman expressed appreciation for Clark as a presenter:
Charity Parkinson’s UK voiced its gratitude for Clark’s ongoing support:
Lead image credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
The Parkinson’s UK Brain Bank
The Parkinson’s UK Brain Bank is the only brain bank in the world dedicated to Parkinson’s research. Each brain is split into 250 samples which can then be used in scientific projects. This brain tissue contributes to scientists’ understanding of the condition and the development of new treatments. Many neurological conditions, including Parkinson’s, are unique to humans which means it can be difficult to conduct research on animal brains.
The organisation accepts brains from donors with or without Parkinson’s and plans to joint-fund a new digital brain bank, allowing scientists over the world to benefit from these pledged brains.
The two-day programme is created by people with Parkinson’s, for people w
4 days ago
Stay tuned for series two of the Parkinson’s Life podcast
The award-winning Parkinson’s Life podcast is back this month. Helping to amplify the voices of the international Parkinson’s community, the podcast has so far reached more than 12,000 people around the world. Thanks to the support of pharmaceutical companies, and the backing of a grant from the Boston Scientific Foundation Europe, the second series will bring together people with Parkinson’s disease and experts in their field to explore topics such as sleep hygiene, exercise and mental health, and to offer advice to listeners. Sandrine Bazile, president of the Boston Scientific Foundation Europe, says: “We fully support this project because it mirrors perfectly our mission to improve patient wellbeing using innovative solutions. We believe in the importance of the [Parkinson’s Life] podcast series, with its aim to improve the information and education available to people with Parkinson’s and their families – to help them live life to the full.”
How Parkinson’s disease could impact the way you see art
A new study from a team at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, US, has indicated that Parkinson’s disease could affect the way people experience art. The researchers asked 43 people with the condition and 40 controls to make judgements about 10 paintings by American artist Jackson Pollock and 10 by Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, rating them according to factors including liking, beauty, motion, complexity and colour-saturation. The participants with Parkinson’s showed more of a preference for ‘high-motion’ art. They also showed a lower recognition of movement compared to controls, suggesting that the brain’s motor system may help interpret movement from static visual cues. However, the research team noted that many of the participants were on their usual medication, and that the impact of dopamine agonists on the experience of art would also need to be considered.
Neuroticism may increase risk of Parkinson’s disease, research finds
Researchers at Florida State University, US, have found that neuroticism – a personality trait that affects how people experience negative emotions – is associated with a higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. The scientists analysed data collected by biomedical database UK Biobank on nearly 500,000 participants aged 40 to 69. Using health records to determine the incidence of Parkinson’s disease in these participants, they found that those who scored in the top quartile of neuroticism were 80% more at risk of developing Parkinson’s than those who scored lower. Antonio Terracciano, lead researcher of the study, said: “Our findings suggest that some emotional vulnerability is present early in life, years before the development of Parkinson’s disease. It kind of gives you a better understanding of the risk factors for the disease and what could be a contributing cause […] The evidence is convincing.”