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Center on Human Development and Disability

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Behavioral Science Core

Brain Imaging Core

Cellular Morphology Core

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Collaborative Research Area on Neurodegenerative Disorders

Coordinator: Thomas Bird, M.D.

The Collaborative Research Area on Neurodegenerative Disorders has four major areas of interest:

  • The first is to characterize the clinical, laboratory, and pathological phenotypes of the various disorders included in this category. Representative disorders involving the central nervous system include Alzheimer's Disease, Frontal Temporal Dementia, Huntington's Disease, Cerebellar Ataxias, ALS, and Hereditary Spastic Paraplegias. Disorders involving the peripheral nervous system include the Charcot-Marie Tooth Hereditary Neuropathies and the many forms of Muscular Dystrophy. The careful clinical characterization of these disorders will allow more accurate and efficient gene identification and will lead to useful genotype/phenotype correlations.
  • The second focus is on identifying and cloning genes directly causing or functioning as risk factors for these disorders. The scientific approaches include genetic linkage analysis, screening of candidate genes, and positional cloning. This group of investigators has had important successes in this field including identifying the genes causing Alzheimer's Disease, Frontal Temporal Dementia, Hereditary Neuropathy, Parkinson's disease, and Hereditary Ataxia.
  • The third focus is to better understand basic mechanisms underlying the biochemical and molecular pathogenesis of these disorders. Experimental approaches include the use of transgenic mice, Drosophila, and C. elegans. The neuronal degeneration association with the trinucleotide repeat expansion disorders is of special interest.
  • Finally, successful approaches to treatment and prevention are an important long range focus. These approaches include strategies for preventing intraneuronal protein aggregation and for delivering normal genes or proteins to distant tissue such as muscle cells.

Faculty Investigators

  • Thomas Bird, M.D., Professor, Medicine, Neurology and Medical Genetics, Coordinator
  • Elizabeth Aylward, Ph.D., Associate Director Center for Integrative Brain Research, Seattle Children's Research Institute
  • Jeffrey Chamberlain, Ph.D., Professor, Neurology
  • Gwenn Garden, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Neurology
  • James Leverenz, M.D., Associate Professor, Neurology and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
  • Leo Pallanck, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Genome Sciences
  • Wendy Raskind, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Medicine and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
  • Nephi Stella, Ph.D., Professor of Pharmacology and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
  • Stephen Tapscott, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Neurology
  • Ellen M. Wijsman, Ph.D., Professor of Medicine and Biostatistics
  • Jing Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Neurology

University of Washington • Center on Human Development and Disability Box 357920 • Seattle WA 98195-7920 USA • 206-543-7701 •