Impressions of GP2 AIM from the GP2 Trainees’ Perspective
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Impressions of GP2 AIM from the GP2 Trainees’ Perspective

By Members of the GP2 Trainee Network | , |
  • Members of the GP2 Trainee Network


    This blog post was written by members of the GP2 Trainee Network: Paula Saffie Awad, Alejandro Martinez Carrasco, Benjamín Pizarro Galleguillos, Tuğçe Gül, Paula Reyes Pérez and Arinola Sanyaolu.

The GP2 Trainee Network, currently consisting of 143 members worldwide, has been created to streamline training opportunities, direct expertise to the places where it is needed and facilitate access to data and analysis across our GP2 network.

Below are impressions from some of the trainees who participated at the first annual in person GP2 investigators meeting.

Group Photo of the Authors

(From left to right) Back row: Cornelis Blauwendraat, Maria Teresa Periñan Tocino, Sumit Dey, Alastair Noyce and Sara Bandres-Ciga | Front row: Andrew Singleton, Arinola Sanyaolu, Paula Saffie Awad, Benjamín Pizarro Galleguillos, Alejandro Martinez Carrasco and Tuğçe Gül | Missing: Paula Reyes Pérez


Paula Saffie Awad


I thought the first in-person GP2 Annual Investigators Meeting (AIM) would be for the lead investigators collaborating with GP2, but I was shocked when I realized that I too was invited. I couldn’t believe it. And this was just the beginning! I loved everything about GP2 AIM: the event organization (including the conference app) was amazing; the program and lectures gave a good 360 degree view of what is going on in GP2, and the coffee breaks gave me the opportunity to connect with other GP2 members. GP2 AIM surpassed my expectations, mostly because of the amazing people I had the pleasure to meet. While I had only met some of them virtually through co-authoring publications, there were others I didn’t know at all – individuals like Justin Solle and Zachary Chaney, who do amazing work “behind the scenes” to make meetings like this happen. I would like to thank GP2 and The Michael J. Fox Foundation for this meeting and for all the opportunities that are constantly being offered to the GP2 trainees. I hope we will enlarge and strengthen the collaborations established with GP2.

Alejandro Martinez-Carrasco

United Kingdom/Spain

My experience at GP2 AIM was very rewarding. It has been more than a year and a half since I started my PhD. During my journey, I have had meetings with colleagues from the GP2 Cohort Integration and the Training, Networking, and Communication working groups on a monthly basis. However, because all of them were conducted remotely, I always looked forward to meeting my colleagues in person. The time spent together in Madrid was better than I had anticipated. I also had the opportunity to engage with other GP2-funded trainees and get to know them better, since the virtual experience is never the same as meeting in person.

Overall, I found the talks from the different working groups very impressive. There has been a lot of progress in recent years, including recruiting cohorts across the globe, which favors diversity and inclusion. Plus finding familial PD cases to sequence, making the workflows increasingly efficient, creating new tools and training workshops to maximize the benefit from the generated data. I think this was reflected in the talks from each of the working groups. I also found the collaborators very committed, giving valuable suggestions to make new improvements within GP2 as it grows.

Personally, I was delighted to have the opportunity to give a short talk on the second day of GP2 AIM. This was a very valuable experience in my development as a scientist, as it allowed me to present some of my research work in front of a very knowledgeable audience and to reduce my fear of public speaking, which I previously found intimidating. Over the course of the meeting, I was able to discuss some of my current projects with colleagues to gain valuable advice and to evolve preliminary ideas I had in mind. In person meetings have the potential of establishing new collaborations by finding people with similar research interests to yours. Lastly, I really enjoyed going out to eat and drink after the working day. It is always fulfilling to talk to people in different settings.

Benjamín Pizarro Galleguillos


I have been participating in monthly GP2 Trainee Network meetings, with other PhD and MSc students for the past year. Though I feel like we are starting to know each other, this was the first time seeing everyone in person, and what better way to do it than in a thrilling city as Madrid!

Science is about collaboration, and this was what the meeting was about. It was great for strengthening the connections in this awesome network that we are building within GP2. I had the opportunity to have insightful conversations with researchers and even arrange some visits to other labs in the future. I presented my GP2-funded PhD project on the second day of GP2 AIM. It is always a little bit frightening to present to an audience of senior researchers, but I felt very comfortable because I knew they were going to give us valuable and constructive feedback.

Tuğçe Gül


When I first attended the virtual GP2 Trainee Network meeting last year, I was very excited to be a member of this large consortium. When I think about the earlier days, I realize I had no idea of the opportunities I would have this year. First, I was awarded a sabbatical at Lübeck (Germany) under the supervision of Prof. Klein for 7 months to learn Nanopore sequencing technology. My second opportunity was delivering a presentation at the in person GP2 AIM in Madrid.

After two years of pandemic, I whole-heartedly missed attending in person meetings. It was amazing that GP2 AIM was held in the magnificent city of Madrid. Meeting and networking with senior scientists in the PD research area and, of course, presenting my thesis project to them made me feel so privileged! Presenting is usually stressful for me, and I was “a little bit” nervous. Nevertheless, I gave a nice presentation and had very encouraging feedback from the audience.

During the meeting, I learned the aims of GP2. I was also inspired by the ideas for research on other populations. It is amazing that GP2 provides researchers from around the world the opportunity to study the complex molecular landscape of PD in underrepresented populations. I thought the speeches were inspirational and the time management of the meeting was top-notch. I was very motivated by meeting with people whose publications have inspired me. I am sure there are more opportunities for me to discover within GP2.

Paula Reyes Pérez


Since I joined the GP2 Trainee Network, all the interactions have been virtual. In this regard, GP2 AIM felt a lot like science Christmas, with people coming from all over the globe bringing their own experiences and stories.

I particularly appreciate learning about the objectives of each working group within GP2. Not only me, but also my research team, have now more tools to communicate, to find solutions to problems we have in common, and to create strong and long lasting collaboration. Overall, I feel this experience was very nurturing on both a personal and a professional level, and I’m excited to see how we will enlarge and strengthen the collaborations established with GP2.

Arinola Sanyaolu


My experience at GP2 AIM in Madrid was terrific. It was a privilege to have attended this meeting. I was fascinated to see how much effort goes into ensuring populations from different parts of the world have an equal chance to contribute to Parkinson’s disease (PD) genetic research and development.

I found every session very interesting, ranging from presentations from the different GP2 working groups and organizations, to the networking sessions where I had the opportunity to engage investigators from other continents in a discussion about the possibilities of collaborating on PD research. The organizers of the event were fantastic. They brought humor to every session, and the time management was top-notch. I will never forget the positive environment where the event occurred, plus the food was great!

Meeting my GP2 mentors and fellow GP2 trainees at the event is one of my main highlights because it helped me connect better with them and helped foster our relationship. I ended up  feeling I am part of an engaged and purposeful network of investigators working to enhance the understanding of the genetic architecture of PD. I am looking forward to having another opportunity like this in the near future.

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 over 100 languages!

Curious to learn more about the event? Read our general recap of AIM.