HOME 2020-04-13T22:50:25+00:00

Over a million Americans have Parkinson’s disease (PD) or related disorders such as progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP).  These diseases are characterized by relentlessly worsening motor and cognitive function, caused by degeneration of nerve cells in the brain.  No currently available medication slows or arrests disease progression.  Even symptomatic treatments show declining usefulness in advanced PD and are often ineffective in PSP.  There is an urgent and unmet need for effective treatments for these diseases.

Our work is focused on understanding the mechanisms underlying neurodegeneration in PD and PSP, as an essential step towards developing effective treatments.   Our current projects focus on the roles of the proteins alpha-synuclein and tau in the populations of brain neurons that selectively degenerate in these diseases.  To understand how accumulation of alpha-synuclein and tau causes neurodegeneration, we use a variety of different experimental models and approaches, including engineered viral vectors that alter gene expression in the rodent brain, and transgenic zebrafish that can be analyzed by intravital microscopy, electrophysiology, genetics and biochemistry.  We are also exploring unbiased phenotype-based chemical modifier screens in zebrafish models for drug discovery.  The ultimate goal of this work is to develop treatments that prevent the progression of PD and PSP.


04/13/2020  Phil accepted into the MPH program at the University of Pittsburgh!  He will complete the degree before returning to medical school in 2021.
04/13/2020  Phil and Victor’s chapter “Parkinson’s Disease” published in the new Elsevier book Behavioral and Neural Genetics of Zebrafish.
04/13/2020  Cameron’s chapter “Parkinson-Plus Syndromes” published in the new Springer book Neurologic and Neurodegenerative Diseases of the Larynx.
03/20/2020  Vlad matched for neurology residency training at UPMC Hamot.  He will start postgraduate training as a clinical neurologist in July!
03/17/2020  Wenting, Jenny, Qing and Vlad’s paper on chemoptogenetic ablation of neuronal mitochondria published in eLife.  Read the full paper here and the accompanying eLife Digest here.
09/18/2019  Ed chaired opening session of 3rd Z-Brain workshop in Toronto.
09/16/2019  Darius received Dean’s Summer Research program Merit Award for his work on automated phenotypic analysis for drug discovery.