Parkinson's Marlborough Public Forum - Dr Louise Parr-Brownlie - 28th Oct

28 October 2016

DIGITAL FLYER parkinsons awareness week - Marlborough talk (2)

As a part of Parkinson’s Awareness Week 2016, Brain Research New Zealand are delighted to partner with Parkinson's Marlborough for a public forum on neurodegenerative disease. Brain Research New Zealand (BRNZ) Principal Investigator, Neurophysiologist and Senior Lecturer at the University of Otago, Dr Louise Parr-Brownlie will present her Optogenetics research findings at Parkinson’s Marlborough on the 28th of October at 10.30 am.


"Optogenetics lights the way forward for Parkinson's patients"


Date: Friday 28th of October, 2016

Time: 10.30 am -11.30 am

Venue: Marlborough Museum

Address: Brayshaw Park, 26 Arthur Baker Place, Marlborough.

Email and inquiries: Janine Ready at Parkinson's Marlborough. Email:

Telephone: 03 578 4058 


About Dr Parr-Brownlie


Dr Louise Parr-Brownlie is part of a wave of researchers in the world dedicated to using optogenetic technology to develop treatments for brain diseases. This is a novel technology which uses light to control cells in living tissue, typically neurons, that have been genetically modified to express light-sensitive ion channels. Essentially living tissues are controlled on a molecular level using light – something unfathomable yet amazing. 

In collaboration with BRNZ colleague Dr Stephanie Hughes, Dr Parr-Brownlie’s research focuses on the neural mechanisms that underlie voluntary movements and the movement deficits of Parkinson’s disease.

Ultimately, Louise hopes that one day the activation or silencing of cells with the use of optogenetics could restore movement or settle down involuntary movement in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

“What we’ve found already is that there are probably better ways to stimulate the brain compared to the deep brain stimulation that’s currently used for patients,” Dr Parr-Brownlie explains. “The stimulation currently used is electrical stimulation that’s applied in a very regular pattern, so it’s almost like a clock ticking.

“Brain cells don’t work like that, they often have little patterns of activity, so what we did is we replayed patterns of activity in the brain and used optogenetic stimulation.

The technology is very specific, you can choose to stimulate one type of brain cell and not the other. We hope that we have fewer side effects as a result of using optogenetic stimulation. We hope in the future to do further studies to consolidate our findings and to take this technology to the human brain and for Parkinson’s patients,” she says. 


About this event

The objective of the event is to empower the Parkinson’s community with knowledge about the disease and novel new therapies of the future. According to the Parkinson’s New Zealand website, one of the key messages of the 2016 Parkinson’s Awareness Week is “Connecting people, changing lives”.  

Brain Research New Zealand strives to support people with Parkinson’s, their families, carers and support workers with the most up-to-date information about novel treatments, therapies and preventative measures for Parkinson’s disease.