Dept.: Shaw Endowed Chair and Professor, Department of Pathology; Director, UW Medicine Neuropathology
Neuroscience Focus Groups:
My lab focuses on Parkinson’s disease (PD), the most common serious movement disorder afflicting millions of Americans, is diagnosed when patients present with cardinal parkinsonian signs (bradykinesia, rigidity, tremor, and postural instability as depicted in the diagram on the left) and show a favorable responsiveness to levodopa or dopamine (DA) agonists. Pathological hallmarks of PD are loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra (SN) with resultant depletion of DA and the presence of Lewy bodies in the remaining neurons (indicated by an arrow in the photo micrograph). Despite decades of extensive research, there is currently still no cure for the disease, largely because its pathogenesis has not been fully understood yet. In addition, there are quite a few other movement disorders that mimic PD clinically including response to levodopa and DA agonists, making an accurate diagnosis of PD difficult sometimes even in the best hands. Finally, the natural course of PD varies substantially, with most patients developing first mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and then dementia as the disease progresses.
- Understand the molecular mechanisms of Parkinson’s disease
- Understand the molecular mechanisms of Parkinson’s disease progression
- Explore unique biomarkers for diagnosing Parkinson’s disease and monitoring its progression