I received Parkinson Association of Alberta (PAA) funding in 2016 as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Calgary Hotchkiss Brain Institute. This was the first external funding that I received as a postdoc. The PAA grant was incredibly helpful in getting my research started, and lead to further successful grant application from the US based Parkinson Foundation. I am now an assistant professor at Mount Royal University, and I can thank Parkinson Association of Alberta for supporting my research program that helped me secure this position.
The primary objective of my project was to investigate the influence of different forms of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) at changing the activity of the cerebellum. The cerebellum is a part of the brain involved in different movement disorders. Experimentally changing cerebellar activity can help us understand Parkinson’s disease (PD) and other disorders. TMS is a quick and painless method to change the activity of neurons in the brain, however there is a lot we still don’t know about TMS mechanisms and best practices. Findings from this work were published in the journal Cerebellum in 2018. I also published a case study on how brain maps of muscle representation change in response to deep brain stimulation in dystonia, another movement disorder which can coexist with PD. I developed expertise in TMS that has allowed me to continue this research as an assistant professor at MRU.
Funding from external agencies like Parkinson Association of Alberta is necessary for research to occur and progress. It helps researchers by providing salary support, funds to share results at conferences, and helps validate research questions and programs. I am grateful to have received this funding and for all the good work PAA does to support research and the PD community.