GP2 Asian Trainees attend the MDS-AOS Basic Science School in Manila, The Philippines
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GP2 Asian Trainees attend the MDS-AOS Basic Science School in Manila, The Philippines

By Yi Wen, Tzi Shin Toh, Joshua Ooi, Jason Wong Siaw Cheng, and Amanda Tiksnadi | , |
  • Trainee Representative – Asia

    Yi Wen, MSc

    University of Malaya | Malaysia

    Yi Wen is currently a PhD student at the University of Malaya, Malaysia after completing her bachelor degree in Biomedical Science. Her research interest mainly focuses on understanding the genetic causes of early-onset Parkinson's disease in the Malaysian population.

  • Tzi Shin Toh, PhD

    University of Malaya | Malaysia

    Tzi Shin is a PhD student at the University of Malaya, Malaysia. Her current research interests are the gut microbiome and metabolome in various movement disorders, particularly Parkinson’s disease.

  • Joshua Ooi, MBBS, MSc

    Queen Elizabeth Hospital | Malaysia

    Joshua serves as a Medical Officer in Neurology at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Sabah, Malaysia. He obtained his Medical Degree from the Perdana University - Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Medical School in 2016 and later read for a Master’s in Clinical Neuroscience at Queen Square - University College London. Joshua's professional interest lies in the field of genet... Read More

  • Jason Wong Siaw Cheng, MD

    Sarawak General Hospital | Malaysia

    Jason Wong is a neurology fellow in training at the Sarawak General Hospital in Borneo, East Malaysia who obtained his Medical Degree from the National University of Ireland. His clinical interest mainly involves early onset Parkinson's disease, various complex movement disorders and their genotype-phenotype correlation.

  • Amanda Tiksnadi, MD, PhD

    Universitas Indonesia | Indonesia

    Amanda Tiksnadi is a neurologist at the Neurology Department, Faculty of Medicine, Universitas Indonesia. Her special interests are movement disorders, neurorestoration & neuroengineering, and non-invasive brain stimulation.

A team of GP2 trainees from Asia recently attended the MDS-AOS Basic Science School: Translational Neurogenetics with Focus on Movement Disorders in Manila, Philippines on  April 13-14, 2023. The aim of the course was to create a common language and generate ideas that will allow the development of translational research projects amongst the next generation of scientists and young clinicians interested in the recent advances of clinical and preclinical disciplines in Parkinson’s disease (PD) and movement disorders.

The event provided updates on hot topics in the field of PD research. These included discussions on the gut microbiome, the role of alpha-synuclein in PD pathology and its relevance as a target therapy for PD treatment, and a wide array of topics related to the genetics of PD and other movement disorders. Additionally, there were several lectures focused on genetic testing and counseling in clinical practice. The intimate setting allowed for a more rigorous dissection of every topic and for active participation in the training sessions.

In a sense, this event challenged our existing framework of PD. Firstly, there was a call for a paradigm shift in understanding PD not as a single entity, but rather as a heterogeneous neurodegenerative disorder with many different phenotypes, patterns of progression, and outcomes, substantially driven by genetics. Another theme of the course focused on the concept of penetrance and how, in some instances, heterozygous mutations in “classically recessive” genes appear to act as a risk factor for the development of a certain disease. This emphasizes the importance of elucidating mechanisms of endogenous disease protection, work that requires the generation of large amounts of data. Finally, in order to make any sort of substantial progress in tackling movement disorders, there needs to be more collaboration, both regionally and globally. Data from traditionally under-represented regions such as those in South-East Asia are invaluable to these global efforts.

There was time for discussion after each talk and these interactions revealed that most of our colleagues from the region encounter similar struggles when it comes to incorporating neurogenetics in clinical practice, the access to genetic testing is often limited by finances and logistics in South-East Asia. Furthermore, most of us are beginning to establish a cohort of patients within our own communities but we do not readily possess the technical knowledge of how to do this effectively and collaboratively. It was somehow fulfilling to be able to strategize on how we could overcome these hurdles together. One of the best strategies we agreed upon was to utilize the support and opportunities provided by the GP2 initiative.

We set up a booth at the venue entrance to introduce and encourage clinicians and scientists to collaborate with GP2. Our interactions were positive and productive, and some attendees even approached our GP2 collaborators to discuss the possibility of including their cohorts in the GP2 effort. GP2 is committed to expanding the understanding of the genetics of PD, not only by establishing global partnerships and democratizing data but also by supporting career development of young clinicians and scientists who work with underrepresented populations.  

In summary, the MDS-AOS Basic Science School course was an engaging event that contributed to seeing the bigger picture of movement disorders, the nature of the field, and its future direction. Additionally, the presence of GP2 provided the resources to facilitate networking, future collaboration, and the advancement of PD research.


GP2 is continually offering opportunities for the research community to learn more about Parkinson’s disease genetics research. Check out our upcoming opportunities or take advantage of our training courses which have subtitles available in up to 100 languages!