Humans of Health Research series - issue 9

The Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC) has published the latest edition of ‘Humans of Health Research’, which highlights researchers and patients engaged in innovative healthcare research. 

In this ninth edition, we hear from Dr Yen Foung Tai, Consultant Neurologist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. His research focuses on developing new treatments for Parkinson's. It also features Natalia Walder who is living with Parkinson's and supports Dr Yen Foung Tai's research in this area.

Dr Yen Foung Tai, who is also an Honorary Clinical Lecturer in the Department of Brain Sciences, said: “The majority of my patients have movement disorders, among which Parkinson’s is the biggest group. Around 145,000 people live with Parkinson's in the UK and it's the fastest growing neurological condition in the world. My research in this area has been informed by the challenges and issues that patients encounter.”

"For example, the most common symptoms of Parkinson’s are tremors and slowness of movement. Some treatments are effective in improving these, like dopamine drugs and an invasive surgical procedure called deep brain stimulation, which involves implanting electrodes deep into the brain. However, they are generally ineffective in reducing falls - another common symptom in Parkinson’s patients - and some people become resistant to the treatment and start to deteriorate. I am leading a study to trial a surgical implant that alters nerve activity, which could improve movement and reduce the number of falls.”

Natalia Walder, who is taking part in Dr Tai’s research said: “I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2002 aged 42. I started noticing that I was limping a little bit and then for a year or so I thought something was wrong with my knee. What really frightened me was one day I was in a meeting at work and trying to take notes and the handwriting became laboured. That made me think something is not right in my brain. I help Dr Tai with his research by taking part in interviews where I share my experiences of living with Parkinson’s and how it affects me. I feel happy that I can take part and help in any way.”
Imperial College AHSC

Imperial College AHSC is a strategic university-NHS partnership that aims to accelerate the translation of scientific breakthroughs into new ways to improve patient care and maintain the health of the public. Its members are Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, The Institute of Cancer Research and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

During the pandemic and beyond, research and clinical work led by AHSC partners has had a significant impact on a national and global scale. The AHSC’s photography exhibition showcases NHS staff from across the partnership working in a range of medical specialties and roles, alongside their patients and patient representatives.

Read the latest interview on Imperial College London's website.