HOME 2018-08-14T14:17:28+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.

News:

08/14/2018  Phil named a Roth Scholar.  This prestigious fellowship is awarded competitively to Pitt MD students carrying out scholarly research in the applied neurosciences.
08/01/2018  Our new CurePSP Venture Grant starts today.  The project will focus on evaluating the roles of genes near PSP risk-associated SNPs in the pathogenesis of tauopathy in vivo.
05/21/2018  Ed gave Keynote Lecture on tauopathy models at 20th Annual Genes, Brain & Behavior Meeting in Rochester, MN.
05/15/2018  Ed gave his Inaugural Lecture as UPMC Chair in Movement Disorders.  The lecture was entitled “An unbiased approach to identifying molecular mechanisms and therapeutic targets in movement disorders”
02/01/2018  Enhua’s paper on GABA-A signaling in OKR responses accepted in Neuroscience Letters.
01/01/2018  Seth’s paper on an open-source method for analyzing OKR responses published in Journal of Neuroscience Methods.