Ben Stecher with guests at P4P2019

2015-2017 Graduate Student Award

2019 guests

Nov 2015

Positron Emission Tomography Imaging of Pathological Tau in Parkinsonisms

Ms Sarah Coakeley | University of Toronto (CAMH)

$40,000 (2 years) Porridge for Parkinson’s Graduate Student Award

As a Master’s student, Sarah Coakeley used medical imaging technology to scan the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease and compare them to brain images of people who are healthy and those who have two rare disorders, multiple system atrophy and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). Using radioactive dye that binds to a protein that accumulates in the brain cells of people with these diseases, her work contributes to the development of a diagnostic test for PSP (progressive supranuclear palsy).

A letter from Sarah

I would like to convey my sincerest appreciation for the 2015-2017 Porridge for Parkinson’s (Toronto) Graduate Student Award that I received through the Parkinson Canada Research Program.

This graduate student award enabled me to conduct research in atypical Parkinsonian disorders, namely progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). I had the opportunity of testing a newly developed positron emission tomography biomarker for PSP that had previously been shown to be effective in Alzheimer’s disease. My research determined that due to the pathology of PSP, an effective diagnostic biomarker should be tailored to this disease.

This award has provided me with the opportunity to highlight the importance of including PSP and other atypical Parkinsonian disorders in research studies, as these patients are often underrepresented in Parkinsonian research despite their differing prognoses and responses to therapy.

Findings from my study have been published in the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, and I have had opportunities to present my research at numerous international scientific meetings including the Society for Neuroscience and the International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders. Your personal support through Porridge for Parkinson’s has allowed me to complete my Master’s studies.

I am currently attending the University of Toronto as a Medical Radiation Science student. Performing my Master’s in a research imaging lab with Parkinson’s patients has provided me with a passion for imaging and I look forward to the further contributions I will make to research imaging and the Parkinson’s community once I graduate.

I would once again like to thank you for your generous donation. It is a pleasure to have this opportunity to express my gratitude and to provide you with an overview of my research findings and future plans.


Sarah Coakeley


Sarah Coakeley’s ResearchGate Profile

Ghadery C, Koshimori Y, Coakeley S, Harris M, Rusjan P, Kim J, Houle S, Strafella AP. Microglial activation in Parkinson’s disease using [18F]-FEPPA. J Neuroinflammation. 2017 Jan 11;14(1):8. doi: 10.1186/s12974-016-0778-1. PMID: 28086916; PMCID: PMC5234135.