Our goals:

Parkinson’s disease (PD) and Lewy body dementias (LBDs), collectively known as synucleinopathies, impact over 2 million people in the United States. Synucleinopathies are characterized by aggregates in neurons called Lewy Bodies and Lewy neurites, which are composed mostly of α-synuclein. PD is well known for its characteristic motor defects, but it is becoming more appreciated that the nonmotor symptoms, including cognitive impairments contribute greatly to reduced quality of life for both the patient and caregiver. Up to 80% of PD patients develop cognitive symptoms. In addition, LBDs are the second most common cognitive disorder after Alzheimer's disease. Lewy pathology is also found in  50% of brains from Alzheimer's disease patients. There are no treatments to stop the progression of these neurodegenerative diseases.  

Our mission is to stop the progression of PD and LBDs by preventing the formation and spread of these α-synuclein aggregates. We use techniques including biophysics, cell biology, physiology, pathology, and animal behavior to study the impact of genes implicated in PD and LBD on α-synuclein aggregate formation. We also collaborate with drug discovery organizations to test compounds that may inhibit aggregate formation or spread. We hope that we will contribute to the discovery of novel therapeutics to halt these devastating disorders in their tracks.
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