In this week’s Under the Microscope, we feature Dr Nicolas Dzamko. Based at The University of Sydney he is currently working alongside Professor Glenda Halliday on several exciting Parkinson’s research projects.
Briefly outline where you commenced your research journey and where you are currently based
I graduated with a biomedical science degree from Flinders University of South Australia and a PhD from the University of Melbourne. I trained at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and at the MRC Protein Phosphorylation unit in Dundee, Scotland. Prior to joining the University of Sydney I was a NHMRC CJ Martin Fellowship holder in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of NSW and a conjoint research fellow at Neuroscience Research Australia.
Describe yourself in five words
Easy-going, inquisitive, diligent, focussed, intrepid.
Who do you admire?
People willing to give things a shot.
When did you know you wanted to be involved in medical research?
Every neuroscience lesson at university essentially ended with the conclusion that the human brain really can’t understand how it works, which sounded like a good challenge.
Neurodegenerative diseases are becoming more and more common and are now considered to be the leading contributor to global disease burden. It’s not really normal to lose control of ones mind or body as you get older and it would be amazing to be involved in identifying causes or cures of these diseases.
What is your current Parkinson’s research focussed on?
Our research takes advantage of recent breakthroughs in identifying genetic causes of Parkinson’s. We aim to understand the biology of how these genes cause Parkinson’s and importantly if they can be exploited to develop treatments.
The hardest things about being a researcher is:
Never knowing where the next breakthrough is going to come from (or when!).
Why is medical research so important?
Medical research underlies the high quality of life we experience today (think vaccines, antibiotics, x-rays, insulin etc) but there is still much room for improvement (think no more cancer, obesity or Parkinson’s).
What do you enjoy doing when you are not in a lab?
Coming up with new experiments to try next time I get in the lab (tragic but true).