Introducing the GP2 Trainee Representatives
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Introducing the GP2 Trainee Representatives

By Alejandro Martinez Carrasco, Alexandra Zirra, Arinola Omolara Sanyaolu, Paula Reyes-Pérez, Paula Saffie Awad, Pin Jui Kung, and Yi Wen | , , |
  • Trainee Representative – Western Europe

    Alejandro Martinez Carrasco, MSc

    University College London | United Kingdom

    Alejandro is a PhD student at UCL Institute of Neurology. He completed his bachelors degree in biotechnology at the University of Murcia, Spain, then enrolled on a master's program to specialize in bioinformatics. One of his interests is to understand the genetics that lead to the progression of Parkinson’s disease.

  • Trainee Representative – Eastern Europe

    Alexandra Zirra, MSc

    Queen Mary University of London | United Kingdom

    Alex is the East Europe Representative of the GP2 Trainee Network. She is from Romania and is currently based in London, training as a doctor, on her way to becoming a neurologist. Alex’s interest in research led her to work on PD in the highly diverse East London population with Professor Alastair Noyce at Queen Mary University London. This is how Alex discovered GP2 and the... Read More

  • Trainee Representative – Africa

    Arinola Omolara Sanyaolu, PhD

    University of Lagos | Nigeria

    Arinola is a neuroscientist from the University of Lagos, Nigeria, and her passion for translational research fueled her interest in neurodegenerative disorders. Although she obtained a Ph.D. in Anatomy, she is constantly developing and acquiring skills in Neurogenetics. Her research focuses on studying the complex genetics of neurodegenerative disorders and she is always seeki... Read More

  • Trainee Representative – Latin America

    Paula Reyes-Pérez, MSc

    Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México | Mexico

    Currently, Paula is interested in studying the genetic basis of Neuropsychiatric traits in Neurodegenerative disorders through bioinformatic and epidemiological approaches. As a PhD student, she also serves as a research assistant in MEX-PD, a research consortium devoted to understanding the genetic, cognitive, and physiological basis of Parkinson’s Disease in Mexico. She com... Read More

  • Trainee Representative – Latin America

    Paula Saffie Awad

    Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul | Chile

    Paula is a movement disorders neurologist that works in CETRAM (Centro de estudios de trastornos del movimiento) in Chile and studies a PhD in Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil. During her career she has been diagnosing and treating patients with rare disease, specially monogenic movement disorders. She is currently working on the characterization ... Read More

  • Trainee Representative – Asia

    Pin Jui Kung, MSc

    National Taiwan University | Taiwan

    Pin-Jui is a PhD student in the genome and systems biology degree program at National Taiwan University. She completed her Bachelor's degree in molecular biotechnology, and finished Master’s degree in studied the potential compounds reducing polyQ aggregation in spinocerebellar ataxia type 17 (SCA17) at National Taiwan Normal University. Her research interest focus on findin... Read More

  • 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.

The GP2 Trainee Representatives have emerged as a meaningful role within the GP2 Trainee Network to mediate communication between GP2 core members and the training body. Their main responsibility is to promote GP2’s mission and training opportunities with trainees from regions across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe. Not only does this encourage trainees to contribute ideas for development of training resources, it also provides a platform for Trainee Representatives to develop their management and communication skills, supporting their career growth.

Alejandro Martínez-Carrasco | Western Europe

My name is Alejandro Martínez-Carrasco and I am a GP2-funded PhD student at University College London. My PhD is focused on understanding genetics that influence the progression of Parkinson’s disease (PD) traits. I love learning novel statistical methods and assisting in writing code which can be used to investigate PD genetics data. In my journey to become a data scientist I also want to further develop my skills in the machine learning field.

Within GP2, I am part of both the Cohort Integration Working Group and the Training, Networking, and Communication Working Group. As a trainee representative in Western Europe, I am committed to supporting trainees in the region to smoothly conduct their research using GP2 data. I believe we can all have fun learning and engaging in the PD genetics research field.

Please do not hesitate to drop me an email or message me on the GP2 Slack channel if you want to get in touch, or if you think we might be able to contribute in some way. You are not alone!

Contact Alejandro

Alexandra Zirra | Eastern Europe

My name is Alexandra Zirra. I am from Romania and I am currently based in London, training as a doctor, on my way to becoming a neurologist. My interest in research led me to work on PD in the highly diverse East London population with Professor Alastair Noyce at Queen Mary University London.

This is how I discovered GP2 and the GP2 Trainee Network, and all the great opportunities they offer for training and collaboration. As the Eastern Europe Representative, I would love to share these opportunities with other trainees. Do get in touch if you are a trainee in Eastern Europe!

Contact Alexandra

Paula Reyes-Pérez | Latin America

My name is Paula and I am a GP2-funded PhD student based at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. I am part of a research group which aims to characterize the genetic and neurophysiological bases, as well as cognitive and behavioral characteristics of PD patients in Mexico. The main reason this research is being carried out is because our population is ethnically diverse and lacks representation in existing large genetic studies. 

Due to our research we have been able to collaborate with GP2. The training resources, constant feedback and connections provided by the GP2 Trainee Network constitute a great opportunity for anyone doing PD genetics research! If you are in Mexico, please do not hesitate to contact me and I would be happy to help you in your journey. Also, if you belong to any other LatAm country, feel free to contact either Paula Saffie or me!

Contact Paula

Paula Saffie Awad | Latin America

My name is Paula Saffie and I am a movement disorders neurologist in Chile. I am currently studying a GP2-funded PhD in medical science at Universidad Federal de Rio Grande do Sul, in South Brazil. When I began my movement disorders fellowship, I started to see patients more frequently who had rare diseases, often genetic ones, and it was very difficult to study them in the country. As I became further interested in helping them, I realized that I didn’t have the right background in genetics or the skills to do so. After a long journey, I discovered GP2 and all the training opportunities they offer within the GP2 Trainee Network. At the beginning, I wasn’t sure about doing a PhD, but then I realized that this was the best way to reach my goals. I don’t regret it, because despite the hard work, it is amazing how much you can learn and all the support you receive from GP2. This is the reason I wanted to become a Trainee Representative in Latin America. I want to help others go through this process and to build bridges worldwide with other colleagues. Please get in touch with Paula Reyes or myself if you want to know more about GP2.

Contact Paula

Arinola Omolara Sanyaolu | Africa

My name is Arinola Omolara Sanyaolu and I am a neuroscientist at the University of Lagos, Nigeria. My research seeks to understand the complex genetics of neurodegenerative disorders like PD. Being passionate about conducting translational research in Neurogenetics was a motivation for me to join the GP2 Trainee Network. After completing my PhD in Anatomy, I constantly sought opportunities to develop and acquire skills in Neurogenetics, of which GP2 has been of tremendous help. I am open to the opportunity to contribute and to be part of a collaborative team working to enhance the understanding of the complex genetic architecture of PD. Please get in touch with me if you are a trainee based in Africa.

Contact Arinola

Yi Wen Tay | Asia

I am Yi Wen and I am a PhD student in Malaysia, located in the Southeast Asia (SEA) region. There are not many studies on PD genetics in the SEA region, which leads to a lack of Asian representation in PD genetics research. Our group, led by Prof. Lim Shen-Yang at the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, has been actively collaborating with GP2 since 2021.

Through this collaboration, I learned about the GP2 Trainee Network which I joined last year. In this network, clinicians, researchers, PhD and master’s students around the world work together to advance our understanding of PD genetics. GP2 also provides training resources with useful lectures and learning materials on bioinformatics that benefit all trainees. As a student with no coding background, I’ve learned a lot along the way. I look forward to getting to know any trainee from the Asia region!

Contact Yi Wen

Pin-Jui Kung | Asia

My name is Pin-Jui and I am a PhD student at National Taiwan University, Taiwan. My research topic mainly focuses on finding plasma biomarkers to differentiate early-onset PD from Parkinsonism, under the supervision of Prof. Ruey-Meei Wu and Prof. Shau-Ping Lin. Thanks to the collaboration with GP2, we aim to discover novel variants from underrepresented populations.

GP2 offers great opportunities for collaboration and training. In particular, the GP2 Learning Platform provides step-by-step courses on bioinformatics and open source platform analysis. The GP2 Trainee Network also shares information, courses and discussions based on trainees’ needs. We are happy to welcome trainees from the Asia region, so please do not hesitate to contact Yi Wen or me via email or the GP2 Slack channel!

Contact Pin-Jui