Rallying to the Challenge is a meeting designed for and by people with Parkinson’s, advocates and care partners that explores how the Parkinson’s community can impact and accelerate research. The meeting is hosted annually by Cure Parkinson’s and Van Andel Institute (VAI) and runs in parallel with VAI’s flagship annual Parkinson’s disease symposium Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease.

Each year the meeting takes an aspect of Parkinson’s research and explores how people living with the condition can support and influence work in this area. The meeting continues to spark engaging and inspiring discussion and is extremely well-attended. It offers an important opportunity for the Parkinson’s community to help shape research.

Rallying to the Challenge  6 and 7 October 2021:  GBA1 and LRRK2 – from Genetic Risk to the Clinic

Due to the pandemic, the 2021 Rallying to the Challenge meeting will be held virtually again.


  • Introductory talk: LRRK2 and GBA genes and their importance as therapeutic targets.
  • The value of GBA and LRRK2 genetic research to the broader Parkinson’s community.
  • Jessi Keavney – who carries the LRRK2 gene variant and whose father and grandfather both had Parkinson’s, will talk about taking part in research.
  • Omotola Thomas and Mie Rizig will present on the need for, and the opportunities and challenges of, collecting genetic data from people with Parkinson’s in Africa (Omotola has just founded ‘Parkinson’s Africa’).
  • The pipeline of gene-focused clinical trials.
  • An update on the PD GENEration trial supported by the Parkinson’s Foundation.
  • PD Frontline – an online GBA gene registry
  • Gaynor Edwards will discuss the need for a ‘Young on-set’ Parkinson’s gene registry
To register please complete the form below:

In 2020, the Rallying to the Challenge meeting was held virtually because of COVID restrictions. The theme was ‘When and How Does Parkinson’s Begin?’ and included stimulating discussions on topics such as ‘What are the genetic risk factors for Parkinson’s?’ and ‘What role might the gut play in Parkinson’s?’

Discussions were led by various members of the Parkinson’s community, including leading researchers in the field.

2020 Rallying to the Challenge

Recordings of the presentations from Rallying to the Challenge 2020 are available to view.

Watch the 2020 Rallying to the Challenge presentations here

The meeting culminated in presenting the 2020 Tom Isaacs Award to the deserving Professor Caroline Tanner.