Dundee Parkinson's Research Campaign - Dr Esther Sammler

Published on 6 March 2020

While scientists at the University of Dundee conduct ground-breaking research into Parkinson’s disease, transferring that knowledge into the real world is equally important

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Dr Esther Sammler is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University’s Medical Research Council Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit (MRC-PPU) and an Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer. She has dedicated her career to understanding the intricacies of the brain and today acts as a vital link between the research carried out in laboratories and the people who live with Parkinson’s.

“It is my work to ensure that we translate basic science from the bench to bedside,” she says.

“Discoveries made in what we call ‘basic science’ must be relevant to improving patient care.

“There’s not one person affected by Parkinson’s that is the same as another and my work is about developing ways in which we can tailor support for every individual to give them the best quality of life possible.

“Ultimately, I want to be able to offer patients something more than symptom control. I spend a lot of time with people who live with Parkinson’s and see the impact it has on their lives. That is exactly why I am so determined to make a difference.”

Esther’s dedication to studying Parkinson’s disease has seen her focus her work on genes and signalling pathways connected to the illness. She balances her research work with public-facing roles, including positions as a Consultant Neurologist at NHS Tayside’s Ninewells Hospital and as a Director of the Dundee Edinburgh Parkinson’s Research Initiative.

“I get to meet people affected by Parkinson’s from all over Scotland and these roles, combined with my work here at the University, mean I get the best of all worlds,” continues Esther.

“I get to engage with people living with Parkinson’s while still undertaking clinical research.”

Asked what achieving the campaign’s £5.4 million target would mean for Parkinson’s research in Scotland, she adds, “To achieve this funding would allow Dundee to be foremost in the world in terms of clinical research for this illness.

“We have quite a lot of good symptomatic treatments but there remains nothing capable of stopping, or even slowing down the disease.

“Dundee is already known around the world for its work in basic science in Parkinson’s - there is nobody in our field who has not heard of Dundee - but to reach our target would be revolutionary for our work.”

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Press Office, University of Dundee

Story category Research