Network Spotlight

ASAP’s network is formed by a vibrant and ever-growing community of researchers and scientists from all over the world.

Teams across our programs, including the Collaborative Research Network (CRN), Global Parkinson’s Genetics Program (GP2), Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), and beyond, are tackling key knowledge gaps in the basic mechanisms that contribute to Parkinson’s development and progression, and are constantly paving the way for breakthroughs in our understanding of PD.

Our Network Spotlight series highlights members who have been nominated by their peers for their outstanding contributions to ASAP’s mission. Meet our nominees below. 


William Hancock-Cerutti

CRN Young Investigator Alum | Yale University

As an alum of Pietro De Camilli’s lab at Yale, Will is studying the role of lipid transfer proteins in neurodegenerative disease. Having recently defended his PhD thesis, Will is now working towards completion of his MD, continuing to bring a physician perspective to basic research. In addition to his rigorous studies, Will is an esteemed colleague recognized for fostering a culture of diversity, inclusion, and environmentalism.

Check out our spotlight of William here

Oke Avwenagha

CRN Project Manager | University College London’s Queen Square Institute of Neurology

As the project manager of GP2’s Team Hardy, Oke is spearheading a working group to standardize data collection forms to facilitate comparisons and meta-analysis for all ASAP researchers working with postmortem tissues. Her professionalism and attention to detail go above and beyond and ensure that ASAP’s mission of facilitating collaboration, generating research, enabling resources, and data sharing is achieved.

Check out our spotlight of Oke here

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Darren Moore

Professor and Chair | Department of Neurodegenerative Science at the Van Andel Institute

As a member of GP2’s Team Lee, Darren has established a strong track record in the study of gene products associated with familial Parkinson’s disease which offer promising opportunities for the development of new treatments designed to target the root causes of the disease. In addition to his research work, he an extremely nurturing and motivating mentor for next generation PD researchers.

Check out our spotlight of Darren here, and follow Darren on LinkedIn.

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Catherine Storm

Medical and PhD student | University College London’s Queen Square Institute of Neurology

As a member of Team Wood, Catherine has performed excellent quality work in investigating genetic techniques to identify putative drug targets for Parkinson’s disease risk and progression. The work was placed on bioRxiv 15 months before submission, demonstrating Catherine’s commitment to open science. For a junior research fellow, she has shown great maturity in building collaborative efforts across International Parkinson’s Disease Genetics Consortium (IPDGC) and more recently, GP2.

Check out our spotlight of Catherine here, and follow her on Twitter.

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Marco Toffoli

PhD student | University College London’s Queen Square Institute of Neurology

As a member of GP2’s Team Schapira, Marco has worked on GBA mutations in PD for the last three and a half years. He has worked extensively on targeted sequencing of the GBA locus to successfully resolve the entire gene and detect complex SVs. He has multiple open access publications coming out later this year.

Check out our spotlight of Marco here, and follow him on Twitter.

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Francesa Tonelli 

Senior Research Scientist | University of Dundee’s Medical Research Center-Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit

As a strong advocate of ASAP’s mission, Francesca oversees all of the collaboration between Team Alessi labs, ensures all data and reagents are shared, deals with finances and administration, arranges meetings, updates websites, mentors young scientists, performs key experiments, and is the go-to person for anyone in the team looking for information.  

Check out our spotlight of Francesca here, and follow her on LinkedIn.

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Emil Gustavsson

Postdoctoral Research Fellow | University of College London

As a member of GP2’s Team Wood, Emil has implemented long-read sequencing of RNA to better understand the genome, with a focus on genes relevant for Parkinson’s disease. Particularly, he is working to unravel the link between SNCA splicing and oligomerisation of the protein. The long-term goal is to provide molecular targets, diagnostic and prognostic tools, and research insights to “lower the bar” for major pharmaceutical investment and to help develop disease-modifying therapeutics aimed at neuroprotection.

Check out our spotlight of Emil here, and follow him on Twitter.

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Dorotea Fracchiolla

Postdoctoral Fellow | Max Planck Institute for Biophysics

As the Project Manager of Team Hurley, Dorotea initiated the Mito911 series that has become extremely popular throughout the network and is always willing to volunteer for different roles, from designing the images for Mito911, to creating cool stop animation videos to explain how autophagy machinery works, and helping steer subgroup meetings with her chairs.

Check out our spotlight of Dorotea here, and follow her on Twitter.

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Abby Olsen

Associate Neurologist | Brigham and Women’s Hospital 

As a member of GP2’s Team Scherzer, Abby has been working to develop glial-based therapies for Parkinson’s disease, and she is building a comprehensive research program for identifying and determining the mechanism of glial modifiers of α-synuclein toxicity. In her work thus far, she has conducted essential studies demonstrating the validity of this approach and methodically laying the groundwork to launch her independent laboratory.

Check out our spotlight of Abby here, and follow her on Twitter.

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Ben Hobson

MD/PhD Student | Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons

As a member of Team Sulzer, Ben has been exploring the immunological capabilities of dopamine neurons and developing new technology for cell type-specific and subcellular proteomics in the mouse brain.  

Check out our spotlight of Ben here, and follow him on Twitter.

Miratul Muqit headshot

Miratul Muqit

Professor of Experimental Neurology | University of Dundee’s MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit 

As a co-Principal Investigator of GP2’s Team Alessi, Miratul has been working to solve one of the hardest questions in Parkinson’s disease research: How do pathogenic mutations in PINK1 affect mitochondrial function (and how do these lead to neurodegeneration)? He is also spearheading the development of tools to monitor PINK pathway signaling.  

Check out our spotlight of Miratul here, and follow him on Twitter.

Follow ASAP on Twitter and LinkedIn to learn more about our researchers, and keep up with the latest in this series.