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Dundee Parkinson's Research Campaign - Dr Andy Howden

Published on 1 September 2019

The quest to develop treatments for Parkinson’s disease is a source of passion for everyone involved with the Dundee Parkinson’s Research Campaign, but for one member of that team the battle is especially personal

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Dr Andy Howden

The quest to develop treatments for Parkinson’s disease is a source of passion for everyone involved with the Dundee Parkinson’s Research Campaign, but for one member of that team the battle is especially personal.

Dr Andy Howden watched his father battle with Parkinson’s for more than 20 years before his death in 2014. A Senior Research Associate in Cell Signalling and Immunology with the University of Dundee’s School of Life Sciences, Dr Howden is now using his skills to take the fight back to Parkinson’s.

“My expertise lies in proteomics – the large-scale study of proteins. I’m interested in how the body’s immune system is linked to neurodegeneration. We know our immune system is important at fighting infection and tumour cells but the link between the immune system and the brain is not understood so well.

“Dundee has always been great at studying immune cells and my niche involves me studying how these cells are modulated during disease. It is a key area of neurodegenerative illnesses such as Parkinson’s.

“I have studied at Edinburgh, Oxford and California, but the work we carry out here in Dundee is world-leading. 

“There is so much interaction between the different departments and teams here. We all share the same passion and we’re all working together to make a difference as quickly as possible.”

Having watched his father battle with Parkinson’s for more than two decades, the opportunity to use his knowledge in the fight against the disease provides an extra incentive for Dr Howden.

“Even though I started out in plant sciences, I realised I should actually focus my efforts researching Parkinson’s,” he continues.

“My dad developed Parkinson’s in his forties and lived with it for more than 20 years. I saw what it did to him and how cruel an illness it can be. He passed away in 2014 and a year later I received the chance to move into this area of research.

“It is a great responsibility, but as both a scientist and a son I am incredibly motivated to make a difference.

“People may still think of Dundee as an old industrial city but nothing could be further from the truth. We are doing great research but that requires funding and achieving this target will really allow our work to take-off.

“Every contribution will help.”

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Story category Research