Two hundred years after apothecary and medical practitioner James Parkinson wrote his essay describing the ‘Shaking Palsy’, we still don’t fully understand the disease named after him. Research into Parkinson’s disease is yielding considerable results and treatments are in development. But for the patients, and families and friends of those with the condition, many details remain unclear, leading to confusion and, occasionally, distress.

Dr Patrick Lewis has been working on Parkinson’s disease for many years. He identified the anniversary of his essay as an opportunity to tell the story of the disease, discuss how we understand it today and explain where the latest research is leading.

Working with the charity Parkinson’s UK, clinicians at the John Radcliffe hospital and people with Parkinson’s he organised a series of events and lectures, including an exhibition at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. The project provided a forum where scientists and clinicians could meaningfully link with people affected by the disease, present recent findings and learn how current treatments are working, informing future research. Success continued with a conference Dr Lewis organised for people with Parkinson’s. Intended for 200 people, it was heavily over-subscribed. The overall success of the project shows that research engagement, even on a relatively small scale, can and does make a huge difference to people’s lives when it is focused on those for whom it really matters.


Parkinson’s UK, Bodleian Library, Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Royal London Hospital

Judges’ comments

“Patrick’s enthusiasm for informing and encouraging patients and their families shines through – interactions that bring valuable learning back to his research.”

Shortlisted for the University Research Engagement and Impact Awards 2018

First published: June 2018