Parkinson's/Movement Disorders

The University of Michigan Movement Disorders group, among the largest and most accomplished in the nation, is home to one of the few NIH-supported flagship Morris K. Udall Centers of Excellence for Parkinson’s Disease Research. The discovery over the past 15 years of genes that cause Parkinson’s and related neurodegenerative diseases has revolutionized our understanding of why Parkinson’s happens. These genes are like on-ramps to the road to better treatments. Together with collaborators in Human Genetics, Biological Chemistry, the U-M Life Sciences Institute and scientists in the Protein Folding Initiative, we are exploring how these genes transmit their lethal messages to neurons, unraveling the step-by-step details of how neurodegeneration happens. This exciting work includes studies in human neurons created from patient stem cells, and those in breakthrough animal models of neurodegenerative disease. A tremendous strength of UMMS and a key to much of our patient-based research is the internationally recognized division of Nuclear medicine that, together with our team, has developed novel imaging compounds that allow us to peer into the brains of patients with Parkinson with unparalleled precision and resolution. A major focus of patient based studies is to better understand and devise new treatment approaches for the symptoms of falls and cognitive decline in Parkinson’s, for which effective therapies do not currently exist.