Not only is Matt Farrer, PhD, a professor of medical genetics at the University of British Columbia, and a Michael J. Fox Foundation Scientific Advisory Board member, heís also one of the pioneers in the field of Parkinsonís disease (PD) genetics research.† Matt has frequently reported on how various mutations in the LRRK2 gene may play a role in the disease, and just this past summer, Farrer and colleagues linked a new gene to Parkinsonís disease.
MJFF spoke with Matt for the third installment of our new feature, Three Questions for a Researcher. Read on to get to know him and his work a little better.
MJFF: What is the biggest challenge you face in your research today?
MF: Too much to get done in too little time!† A good deal of my time is setting priorities to maximize the benefit of the teamís research.† Weíre working hard to unravel the etiology (genetic studies of the causes) of Parkinsonís disease (PD), and to reconstruct the molecular processes associated with these causes (neuroscience research), while strategizing about research tools and novel therapeutics that could be used to intervene against these processes.†
MJFF: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about your daily work with PD?
MF: How multifaceted, collaborative, and global the research in PD is. †Researchers, neurologists and neuroscientists from almost every corner of the planet are working together to speed progress in PD drug development.† In the past hour Iíve had a scientific dialogue with a professor of neurology at the University of British Columbia, with a protein biochemist in the United Arab Emirates, with a molecular geneticist in the Faroe Islands, and with The Michael J. Fox Foundation (other than for this interview!).†
MJFF: How do you unwind after work?
MF: Itís very hard to strike a balance between the two enterprises I am most passionate about, my work and my family. I spend time coloring and playing with legos with my four-year-old daughter and 16-month-old son. Rarely, I get a chance to be alone, then I dig in my yard; itís my therapy.