Sarah Gordy on taking part in research this World Down Syndrome Day

"I always want to encourage people to be part of research. It is so worthwhile."

Today marks World Down Syndrome Day, an international awareness day aiming to raise awareness about Down syndrome and promote the rights, inclusion, and well-being of people with Down syndrome. The date, 3/21, represents the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome, which causes Down syndrome.

Sarah Gordy at the Crick

Sarah Gordy, known for BBC's Ralph & Katie, visited the Crick for World Down Syndrome Day. 

We celebrated for the fifth time in person at the Crick last Saturday. A day of talks and activities brought together researchers from the Crick, KCL, UCL and Queen Mary University with people with Down syndrome and their friends and families.

The event was organised by the LonDownS Consortium, which includes the Immune Cell Biology Laboratory and Down Syndrome Laboratory at the Crick. Researchers in the lab are studying how genetic changes cause different aspects of Down syndrome, such as recently identifying the genetic cause behind heart defects in Down syndrome.

This year actor and avid participant in research, Sarah Gordy, joined the event to talk about her experiences, both in acting and in research. Event organisers Emily Blackburn, a PhD student at UCL Institute of Neurology, and Rifdat Aoidi, a postdoc at the Crick, caught up with Sarah.

Why did you want to take part in the World Down Syndrome Day celebration at the Crick this year?

It is a good opportunity to see people I have met through UCL and King’s.  I always want to encourage people to be part of research. It is so worthwhile.  This year we spoke about the ABATE Study, which involves testing a vaccine for Alzheimer’s disease and is so interesting and important.  The possibility that one day Alzheimer’s disease will no longer be feared is awesome.

What is your favourite thing about acting, and when did you realise you had this talent?

As an actor I can live more than one life.  Sometimes I am shy as Sarah Gordy but once I am a character I am free to be whatever the director wants me to be.  I get to meet lots of very different, interesting people. I get to see inside stories and learn a lot.  My family are storytellers, I was doing plays at home with my sister when I was five.  My teacher at baby school gave me the part of Mary because I was at home on stage.  The story goes that one of the “Sheep” got nervous and “Mary” got up and brought the Sheep to the crib and all went very well.

I want people to have as much fun as possible, feel good about themselves, and be useful to the community.  If what I do inspires them, that is fantastic.
Sarah Gordy

How did you first hear about taking part in research and why do you think it’s important to get involved? 

The first research project I was involved in was for The London Down Syndrome Consortium at UCL.  I have been involved with this for many years.  I enjoy hanging out with young interesting scientists, playing games and talking.  As a family we are science-orientated so research is important to us. 

Last year UCL introduced us to the idea of me being part of the ABATE study. We are so excited by the idea of a vaccine to at least slow down this disease.  Fantastic to think that after a while there will be a vaccine for everybody.  If I am one of the fortunate two out of three candidates, I will be getting a course of active vaccine.  If not, I am a tiny part of an important project.

How do you feel about being a role model for other people with Down syndrome? 

Good.  I want people to be as happy and healthy as possible.  I want people to have as much fun as possible, feel good about themselves, and be useful to the community.  If what I do inspires them, that is fantastic.

 

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