Under the Microscope: Associate Professor David Finkelstein
Friday, 21st March 2014

This week’s we profile Associate Professor David Finkelstein, the head of the Parkinson’s Disease Laboratory at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health. Having authored over 150 research papers in peer-reviewed journals and presented his innovative work to medical researchers all over the world, David and his team are at the forefront of finding a cure for PD. Read about David’s passion and what inspires him to make a difference:

What Drives Your Commitment to find a cure for Parkinson’s?

I believe that in the not too distant future we will see real advances in the science and clinical care for people living with Parkinson’s.  There are many directions that researchers are currently investigating; one or more of these paths will improve lives in the future.  The underlying biology of Parkinson’s is fascinating and I enjoy working in a field that is so open to making a significant contribution to human wellbeing.  I am searching for a cure.

Why Shake It Up Australia?

DfinklesteinShake it up has ensured that the funds raised have gone to the best PD researchers in Australia.  You may not know that Australian scientists and companies apply to the Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) for funding.  The MJFF rigorously scrutinises and selects the best applications from throughout the world that will have an impact on PD.  Shake It Up then commits funds to successful Australian grants.  This ensures that the funds are distributed in an area that will have a real impact and makes sure Australian innovation can flourish. We are so grateful for the funding. In an environment where governments are pulling back on funding, this sort of support makes a world of difference.

Tell us what you are doing to Shake Things Up?

My team and I are working hard to produce rigorous and innovative science. We are proud to be involved with the community to educate and spread the word of advocacy.  My laboratory is working on a range of diverse approaches to find a cure. We have been involved in developing a medication that alters the course of the disease by preventing the degeneration of cells and by removing the “bad alpha” synuclein.  Another approach is to use new-biomaterials to implant into the brain to protect and guide stem cells to integrate into the brain. The future is bright.

Greatest Reward?

The thirst for knowledge is really important to me but knowing that the field of knowledge I contribute to is vital to people, that gives me an inner glow. My work gives me a real sense of achievement. I am passionate about improving the lives of people with Parkinson’s.  It’s my life’s work

Best advice for people looking to Shake It Up?

Finding a cure is no small matter and it will take a co-ordinated effort.  I would like to see all of the Parkinson’s advocacy groups, scientists and clinicians unite and to convince politicians to make this disease a priority area for research funding.   I would advise people to join a Parkinson’s advocacy group and become involved.  If we all get together and speak in one voice, it would certainly Shake Things Up.