The research programme of the National Centre of Excellence in Research on Parkinson's Disease (NCER-PD) focuses on improving the diagnosis and stratification of Parkinson's disease (PD) by combining detailed clinical and molecular data of patients to develop novel disease biomarker signatures. The ultimate goal is to diagnose PD at an earlier stage and with a higher specificity than is currently possible.

Currently, the diagnosis of PD is largely based on clinical symptoms. Thorough clinical characterization of the disease, pathological studies, and insights from genetic causes have elevated our understanding of PD. A major limitation, however, is the lack of insight into the pathogenic mechanisms that underlie PD.

At the same time, our knowledge of the molecular mechanisms involved in neurodegeneration grows constantly, supported by technological and methodological improvements in molecular profiling. The development of integrated biomarker signatures based on clinical, molecular, and imaging characterization using advanced computational approaches holds great potential for improving our understanding of PD and its underlying mechanisms.

Within NCER-PD, we will carry out two long-term projects, each covering a crucial aspect of the research programme: the establishment of a state-of-the-art PD cohort (HELP-PD) and the development of a methodology for the molecular characterisation of PD pathogenesis (DIAGNOSIS). These projects are designed to deliver their full potential by the end of the NCER-PD programme and will complement and boost each other in our efforts to identify and validate PD biomarker signatures from clinically well characterised cohort subjects and corresponding molecular data. Furthermore, NCER-PD comprises an exploratory project on genetic variants together with the NIH. Projects on imaging and the role of the microbiome in PD are associated.