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Summer Student 2021: Riddhi Sharma

Summer Student 2021: Riddhi Sharma

Parkinson’s disease: developing animal-free methods to study genetic and environmental causes.

Supervisor name and institution: Dr Nora Bourbia, UK Health Security Agency

Project summary:

In 2018 it was estimated that 145,519 people were living with Parkinson’s disease in the UK. That’s 1 in 350 adults. This is expected to reach 1 in 310 persons in the UK in 2025, to 1 in 230 persons by 2065.

Parkinson’s disease is a ‘multifactorial’ neuro degenerative disease in which most cases are idiopathic, meaning they are from an unknown cause. ‘Multifactorial disease’ means that there is an interaction between environmental and genetic factors. Therefore, there is a need to understand how environmental hazards affect the onset of Parkinson’s disease, to better understand how the disease begins and how it can potentially be prevented.

In her summer research project, Riddhi will develop a method to study the genetic and environmental causes of Parkinson’s disease in human brain cell lines, to assess whether the cells are entering a diseased state.

Animals project will replace: Mice and rats.

Watch Riddhi’s Summer School presentation…


Get to know Riddhi…

Why do you want to participate in animal replacement summer studentship?

I am a vegetarian as I find it hard to justify the suffering of animals for our own pleasure and have maintained a vegetarian lifestyle since I was a child, at first due to cultural reasons and later due to my own personal choices. I believe that we should do all we can to diminish animal research and that charities such as Animal Free Research UK play such a vital role in this movement.

How will the Summer Student Programme help to kick-start your career as an animal free researcher?

I hope to gain further insight into replacements for the use of animals in research and further my abilities as an animal-free researcher. I would love to be able to learn more in vitro (a process performed outside a living organism, e.g., in a test tube, culture dishbased techniques and become more confident in using them.

Why is research without the use of animals important to you?

I believe we should do all we can to stop the use of animals in research. Aside from this, I feel that it is human-relevant research that allows for more growth in the techniques and resources we are able to use in pre-clinical trials.

How does your project fit in with your degree?

I have been interested in the field of neuroscience and neurological diseases ever since studying it at university in 1st year, and Parkinson’s is an area that I am particularly interested in. By researching into the genetics of the disease in a cruelty-free manner, I will be able to get a better understanding of the disease and get an opportunity to develop my practical skills. I’m super excited to work on this project and am really looking forward to starting.

What are your future plans and career aspirations?

I would like to complete a PhD, potentially in the field of neuroscience, which will be supported greatly by this placement and project. I would love to work in a career in the field of neuroscience or oncology, developing medications that help people live longer and better lives. I hope to be in a position in my career where I know I am making a difference in the industry, and in people’s lives.


You can take action for animals, by uniting with us now!

Many human relevant approaches have been introduced into the scientific world, but unfortunately, the use of animals in medical research is entrenched and institutionalised, with many researchers still viewing animal experiments as the gold standard. This is our time to make change happen. Our work is funded entirely by your generous support, so please make a donation today to help us free animals from laboratories for good.

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Page last modified on December 15, 2021 3:52 pm