Above: Co-founder and President Tom Isaacs during the filming of the GDNF trial

The Parkinson’s Drug Trial: A Miracle Cure?  has won a Grierson Award for Best Science Documentary. The two-part series aired in February and March 2019 and followed late CPT Co-founder Tom Isaacs and eight other brave participants through a pioneering yet highly invasive drug delivery procedure in the brain. 

The prestigious Sargant-Disc Best Science Documentary Award was presented to the documentary maker Jemima Harrison and her team at Passionate Productions on Thursday 14th November, at the awards ceremony celebrating the work of talented documentary filmmakers in the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall. 

The documentary follows the progress of a cutting-edge drug delivery system involving complex brain surgery to insert catheters into the brains of people with Parkinson’s, through which the drug GDNF (or placebo) is directly infused in the hope of finding a new treatment for Parkinson's. 42 brave and pioneering people took part.

Tom Isaacs, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at 26, and his wife Lyndsey were an integral part of the documentary, which gave viewers an insight into the brave and emotional journey undertaken by the trial’s participants. Tom was widely known and respected in the Parkinson’s community and beyond for his dedicated work in striving towards finding a cure for Parkinson’s. His wife Lyndsey, who attended the award ceremony and is now a Trustee of The Cure Parkinson’s Trust (CPT), said:

“The Parkinson’s Drug Trial is an honest depiction of the human side of what it is like to be involved in a major drug trial. It shows the impact it has on everyone involved – the patients, their families and the medical teams. It also highlights the impact that Parkinson’s has on all aspects of living and the vital need for these advancements in medicine to be funded and investigated further.

I know that Tom, as I am, was incredibly proud to have played a part in this inspiring documentary.”  

The Grierson Awards are highly regarded in the documentary field. The judges commented:

“The winning film stood out for its lean storytelling of a complex subject, its scale and its heart. The film…managed to straddle both the science involved with clarity and the emotional, human dimension with real compassion.”

CPT is delighted to congratulate Jemima and her team for winning this prestigious award. Jemima said,

"We owe so much to Tom Isaacs both for being the one who invited us to film the GDNF trial in the first place and for being so utterly unflinching in demanding that we document his Parkinson’s with such brutal honesty. It was phenomenally brave of him and all the other trial volunteers who put their lives on the line for science. I hope the series has played a role in raising awareness of how very badly a cure is needed and that it will remain a part of Tom’s enduring legacy."

Watch e award being presented to the team and Jemima's acceptance speech here.

Recipients of the award: Jemima Harrison (centre) with Lyndsey (left of centre) and Hermina Campbell (right of centre)

Will Cook, CPT CEO said:

“It is fantastic to see that the dedication of Jemima and her team in creating this piece has been recognised. The Cure Parkinson’s Trust is proud to have supported this cutting-edge research and we are grateful that this documentary has brought Parkinson’s further into the public eye. It has highlighted, with compassion, the bravery of those who participate in this type of research and the urgent need to find a cure for this condition.” 

The GDNF drug trial was jointly funded by The Cure Parkinson’s Trust and Parkinson’s UK . 

Read more about the background to the GDNF trial.