Nice initiative (both of them to ask you, and of you to ask us). so here's my take on research:
Overall I have very mixed feelings about it. On one side, I'm obviously very happy that people are focusing on it. If we keep going like this, sooner or later we'll find the answer to beat this PD thing. And for this, I'm grateful to all those folks whose daily jobs is to find a way to help PwP. And I can guarantee you that this has a whole new meaning for me since I was dx around 2 years ago - makes me wonder how many people do appreciate research properly.
On the other hand, I feel a bit of frustration, because I get the impression we could progress a lot faster. Maybe that's just perception - but that's my perception. Now, I know that criticising is easy; it's a lot harder to do it in practice. So, allow me to at least ask a couple of questions that illustrate my biggest question marks about PD research as I understand it:
1. Why is it that all the research studies assume that PD is caused by the same problem for all PwP? For example, when I read a research study on inflammation, I'll see that they took 2 groups of folks with PD and try some anti-inflammatory meds on one group and give a placebo to the other group to see if on average the medicated group got better results than the control group. Then, invariably, the results show no statistically significant differences between the two groups and they'll say "oops, we need more research to confirm if inflammation really plays a role in this". Now, imagine for a second that only 20% of PWP have PD because of inflammation (and the other ones have it because of some other 5 or 6 reasons). Couldn't this be a reason why nothing has been found to work yet? Surely, with 5 or 6 (or perhaps even more) different causes, it's highly unlikely that one would ever find something that works in a statistically significant for all PwP. And isn't it likely that there might be multiple causes for PD? Just imagine that this was the reason why many of the research studies gave the results they did.
2. Does it make sense to find ways for PwP to collaborate more actively in research (i.e., not just as subjects)? PwP know more about their situation than any researcher could ever dream of knowing. True, most of us are not medically educated and struggle with the medical lingo, but we can see relationships with our medical history and lifestyle habits that no researcher has the slightest chance of getting close to. And by the way, lots of PwP also have a pretty solid academic and professional background too.... and we have a very healthy and pragmatic sense of urgency too :-)
Hope this is of any help. Cheers,