Olivia Duncan


I am interested in how the brain works, and how we can apply this knowledge to treat disease. My PhD has particularly focused on researching Dementia and Parkinson’s disease. Finding a program with this translational edge was very important to me when applying, as it gives the PhD a clear direction and focus, in addition to boosting my own motivation.

Added extras such as monthly taught sessions and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) training possibilities enhance the PhD experience, and the support network created within the Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) is invaluable.

During my PhD I have organised two open days, for people affected by Parkinson’s to visit King's College London (KCL) and meet scientists who research the disease. I have also had the opportunity to carry our scientific demonstrations for primary school children, and teach secondary school children and undergraduates.

View Olivia's 3-minute video

BA Natural Sciences (Neuroscience), University of Cambridge
Amgen Scholar (2010) Karolinska, Sweden
Volunteer Researcher, (2012) University of the West Indies, Jamaica

Investigating the cellular response to mitochondrial dysfunction in vivo

This project falls under the BRC/U-D themes of dementia and synopathies. Mitochondrial dysfunction is observed in many neurodegenerative disease such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, but little is known about the cellular response to this dysfunction.

The first part of my project is looking at whether mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with the development of dementia in people with Parkinson’s disease. The second part delves further in to the mechanism of disease.

I am trying to understand the cellular response to mitochondrial dysfunction. If we can understand this response then we can learn how to manipulate to improve the outcome of the disease.


Dr Joseph Bateman and Professor Clive Ballard


Our research areas

We are researching new tests, treatments and theories in mental health, neurology, and dementia. Find out more about the areas in which we are researching.



Training & development

We aim to attract outstanding candidates with a range of experience and offer a variety of training schemes and secondment opportunities, spanning all academic career pathways.


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