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Ask the PhD: Big Data, Better Answers

In our latest Ask the PhD video, our host Maggie McGuire Kuhl talks to two Michael J. Fox Foundation staff scientists, Dr. Bradford Casey and Dr. Samantha Hutten, about why data matters in Parkinson’s.

Through the landmark Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) and other studies, MJFF is building data sets on Parkinson’s. Much of this work is focused on DNA, RNA and proteins. We are funding researchers to use the latest in “omics” technology — genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics — to generate data on changes happening at the cellular level in our bodies. This can help us understand what causes Parkinson’s disease and why it progresses.

We just released the largest disease-focused data set ever created, which contains RNA-sequencing data from participants in the PPMI study. Combined with other data we have already made public on genes and proteins, this new RNA-sequencing information could illuminate the genetic drivers of Parkinson’s and lead us toward new ways to treat the disease.

Like all data sets generated from MJFF-sponsored studies, the RNA-sequencing project is open and free to use by qualified researchers. We are committed to providing the research community with the tools and resources necessary to cure Parkinson’s.

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