In the coming days, the SDRC are publishing a series of blogs featuring those that were in the SDRC Annual Report 2019/20. Read about Luisa Parkinson‘s research as a PhD student from the University of Edinburgh in this excerpt below.
I am in my second year of my PhD in the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Research Centre at the University of Edinburgh, investigating environmental risk factors for dementia.
Prior to this I gained my undergraduate degree in Veterinary Medicine and Physiology at the University of Cambridge and worked both in first opinion practice and clinical research.
Dementia is a complex condition, with genetics, lifestyle and environmental factors all playing a role in whether an individual develops it. There is also a variation in your risk of developing dementia based on where you live. My project aims to explore the amount of this geographic variation that is explained by environmental factors and whether the effects of environmental factors are stronger in a specific life period, such as childhood, or are cumulative over a lifetime.
I am currently investigating how different spatio-temporal modelling methods affect the results of an analysis using data on deaths with dementia in Scotland. The aim is to better understand how arbitrary modelling decisions influence the results and how best to minimise these effects to ensure that the results are robust. There are several areas where legislators feel that the evidence linking environmental factors to dementia is currently insufficient to allow them to bring in new policies.
If my PhD project could add to the evidence and help to get legislation in place to reduce the risk of developing dementia for future generations, that would be a fantastic outcome.
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Read the SDRC Annual Report here