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Dr Laura Palmer

Dr Laura Palmer

Dr Laura Palmer
BSc (Bristol), PhD (Bristol)

South West Dementia Brain Bank Manager

Area of research

The Renin Angiotensin System and Alzheimer's disease

Institute of Clinical Neurosciences, Lev,
Learning and Research Building, Southmead Hospital BS10 5NB
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 41 47821


Laura undertook a part-time PhD supervised by Professor's Patrick Kehoe and Seth Love between January 2006 and July 2014. Her PhD was sponsored by the charity Bristol Research into Alzheimer’s disease and Care of the Elderly (BRACE). Laura’s research involved the Renin Angiotensin System (RAS) which is an important enzyme pathway and signalling system. It acts to control blood pressure, fluid balance and hormone secretion. The RAS pathway in the brain is independent from that in the rest of the body, reflecting the fact that the components of this pathway have very specific actions in the brain. Indeed, all of the components of the RAS are present within the brain and some are thought to have neurotransmitter-like properties and have been reported to influence behaviour and cognition. There is a considerable body of epidemiological evidence suggesting links between vascular risk factors such as hypertension and Alzheimer’s disease risk, and increasing evidence that antihypertensive therapies that target the RAS may be of benefit to cognition. Immunohistochemical comparisons and mRNA studies revealed that key RAS components are significantly upregulated or showed non-significant increases in the post-mortem brain tissue of people with Alzheimer's disease with the exception of the key RAS substrate, which was decreased. The activity of one of the central components of the RAS was also found to be increased in both the brain tissue of people with Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia when compared to control cases. Other changes in the vascular dementia brain differed from those in the AD brain, suggesting both similarities and differences in the pathogenic processes responsible for these dementias.


Laura studied at the University of Bristol where she completed her degree in Pathology and Microbiology and later her PhD in Neuroscience. In 2004 she began a technical post with the South West Dementia Brain Bank (SWDBB) which she now manages. The SWDBB is a research resource of post-mortem brain tissue from people with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias as well as from people with no memory problems. We accept brain donations from people with dementia or older people without memory problems living across the South West region. 

Almost all of the major advances in our understanding and treatment of neurological disease have been based on the examination of human brain tissue.

The causes of Alzheimer’s disease and most other forms of dementia are largely unknown and treatment can only try to reduce symptoms. Comparison of brain tissue from people who have had dementia with that from people who have never had the disease, helps us to identify abnormalities that are specific for different dementing illnesses and that contribute to their development. In addition, the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias cannot usually be confirmed without examination of the brain after death, and accurate diagnosis is critical to progress in research and treatment.

The Brain Bank has Tissue Bank ethical approval and is licensed by the Human Tissue Authority.



  • Brain Bank
  • Tissue Bank


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • dementia
  • vascular dementia


  • Immunohistochemistry
  • RT-PCR
  • Western Blotting
  • histology



Bristol Medical School (THS)

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View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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