Movement Disorders Basic & Translational Research | NYU Langone Health

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Movement Disorders Research Movement Disorders Basic & Translational Research

Movement Disorders Basic & Translational Research

Investigators in the Kellar Family Division of Movement Disorders lead basic and translational research projects designed to advance our understanding of conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and improve our ability to provide effective treatments.

Basic Research

At the Fresco Institute for Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders, we research the molecular and cellular mechanisms that groups of neurons in the basal ganglia use to select, motivate, and reinforce voluntary motor actions. We also investigate dopamine release, regulation, and effects on downstream neural signaling and animal behavior. Our researchers take advantage of the rich clinical and basic research environments at NYU Langone. We employ a combination of advanced molecular, genetic, optical, neurochemical, and electrophysiological approaches to tackle fundamental questions about the function of the basal ganglia, as well as identify novel therapeutic targets for Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders.

We collaborate with investigators at the Neuroscience Institute, including Margaret E. Rice, PhD, Nicolas Tritsch, PhD, and Richard Tsien, PhD.

Translational Research

We study how brain circuitry is perturbed by dopamine loss and produces Parkinson’s disease symptoms. We also study how compensatory plasticity and aberrant activity in the basal ganglia contributes to motor complications (including levodopa-induced dyskinesia) from pharmacologic treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Furthermore, we study how plasticity in the striatal circuit underlies the long-duration response to dopamine replacement therapy, and the role of the pedunculopontine nuclei in gait abnormalities and freezing in Parkinson’s disease. We address these questions at molecular, cellular, and circuit levels in mouse models, emphasizing the contribution of specific types of neurons.

We are interested in the molecular pathogenesis of neurodegeneration that leads to Parkinson’s disease and translating this knowledge into Parkinson’s disease–specific biomarkers that inform disease pathogenesis. These biomarkers may allow for earlier diagnosis, better monitoring of disease progression, and assessment of target engagement in therapeutic trials. Moreover, these studies allow us to understand the heterogeneity in Parkinson’s disease pathogenesis, allowing us to better individualize therapeutic approaches.

As a leader of the Parekh Center for Interdisciplinary Neurology, we coordinate and collaborate with other Department of Neurology divisions on research efforts to find common mechanisms underlying different neurologic disorders involving immune dysfunction, often initiated by peripheral pathology that influences central brain pathology. We are particularly interested in understanding the prodromal stages of these disorders, specifically how to identify these stages and discover stage-appropriate treatment, so we can forestall the disease process early on, when therapy can have the most impact.