A single gene variant that causes early-onset Parkinson’s disease (EOPD) has been discovered in New Zealand’s Pasifika community, likely passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years.
This breakthrough could shed light on the ancestry, customs and migration of people throughout the Pacific stretching back more than 1000 years — and improve diagnoses and health services.
Dr Buchanan has received funding from the Neurological Foundation to take the findings further, including collecting the experiences of Pacific people who carry the PINK1 gene.
She works with Dr Fuafiva Fa'alau, from the School of Population Health at the University of Auckland, who has a complementary interest in dementia in Pasifika communities. Dr Fa’alau is leading ‘talanoa’ sessions with PINK1 patients and their families alongside Dr Buchanan. Talanoa is a Pasifika research methodology that encourages open, informal and respectful discussion.
Join us for this FREE online talk
Join neurogenetic researcher Dr Buchanan as she discusses the unexpected discovery of the ‘PINK1 L347P’ gene variant in Western Polynesian people in New Zealand and what implications this has for diagnosis and treatment.
About the speaker
Dr Christina Buchanan is a research genetic counsellor in the Department of Neurology, Auckland City Hospital, and an associate investigator at the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery, a national centre of research excellence. She has strong ties to the Pacific, being born on Banaba, Kiribati, to parents of Scottish, Dutch and Indonesian ancestry.