As a neuropathologist who studies Alzheimer’s, I spend a lot of time looking at the brains of people with the disease and comparing them to those who don’t have Alzheimer’s.
But in the back of my mind, I’m always thinking about the person whose brain I have in front of me. It’s important to me that I know something about them.
Many of us here at the Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Disease are not only researchers, but also clinicians, so we have that link with patients.
In my case, it’s not just about getting a donation and working with brain tissue. I know the names of the donors and their spouses. We have coffee together. We call each other on the phone so we can keep up.
I can tell you that donors’ families really want to contribute to this work, to feel like they are doing something constructive. When you see their burden and hear their stories, you know how important this is to them.
I think that knowledge is what encourages researchers at this centre not to be a bunch of geeks doing science behind closed doors. The doors are always open – we do tours for those connected with the Alzheimer’s community.
And that sense of community extends to the way we work with each other. We meet regularly and brainstorming happens in groups here. I have my own point of view and ways of looking at the disease, and so do the others.
But we work very closely and feed off each other’s research and it’s that sense of connection that makes this Centre so powerful.
Read more about Lili Naz Hazrati