Dr Laura Palmer
BSc (Bristol), PhD (Bristol)
Laura is the manager of the South West Dementia Brain Bank, an invaluable research resource of post-mortem brain tissue from people with dementia or other neurological conditions and from people who have not been affected.
- Alzheimer's disease
- Research tissue bank
- Human Tissue Authority
South West Dementia Brain Bank ManagerBristol Medical School (THS)
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Laura studied at the University of Bristol where she completed her degree in Pathology & Microbiology and later her PhD in Neuroscience. In 2004 she began a technical post with the SWDBB which she now manages.
Laura undertook a part-time PhD between January 2006 and July 2014. Her PhD was sponsored by the charity BRACE and focused on 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.
Almost all of the major advances in our understanding and treatment of neurological disease have been based on the examination of human brain tissue. Yet despite much progress, the precise causes of nerve cell damage in Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias remain poorly understood. Existing treatments reduce symptoms for a period of time but do not stop progression of the disease. We have an urgent need for more research into dementia, and comparison of brain tissue from people who have had dementia with that from people who have not is a crucial way for us to find out why different types of dementia occur, how they differ and how they progress. The aim of the SWDBB is to provide researchers with access to high quality brain tissue to further our understanding of dementia.