UCLA scientists are conducting a vast array of research investigating the causes of movement disorders such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease and to develop new therapies. Researchers in the Movement Disorders Program are conducting basic science, translational and clinical studies often in collaboration with other investigators in the UCLA community.
Basic science research
Drs. Bronstein and Portera direct basic science laboratories. Dr. Bronstein’s lab investigates the causes of Parkinson’s disease (PD) at a molecular level using novel zebrafish models. He is particularly interested in environmental causes of PD and collaborates with Dr. Beate Ritz to study both genetic and environmental risk factors that can further investigated in the lab. Dr. Bronstein’s lab also studies potential disease modifying therapies.
Dr. Portera’s lab utilizes advanced microscopic techniques such as in vivo 2-photon imaging to study cortical circuitry and neuronal structure in development and disease such as PD and Fragile X. His lab is highly accomplished having published in top journals and received extensive funding from the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, and from several foundations. Please see porteralab.neurology.ucla.edu for details.
Health Services Research
Drs. Mendizabal and Adrissi are studying racial and ethnic disparities in movement disorders and dementia. Dr. Mendizabal’s current research looks at racial and ethnic disparities in Huntington’s Disease (HD), a rare progressive neurogenetic condition. She’s also developing projects improving sociodemographic data collection in HD, with the goal of understanding how minoritized groups with HD access specialized care, and with the ultimate goal to ensure equitable access to specialized care for HD and other neurological disorders. Dr. Adrissi is working on improving the lack of representation of black participants in Parkinson's disease clinical trials. She is currently creating a quantitative assessment tool to be used by Parkinson's disease researchers to assess and improve their recruitment and study design to increase inclusivity and accessibility for Black participants, using a community-centered approach.
Clinical and translational research and clinical trials
Several members of the Movement Disorders Program faculty perform clinical research. All studies are performed in the Neurology Department’s dedicated Center for Neurotherapeutics and the Chen Center for Translational Research for Parkinson’s disease and Related Disorders. A variety of studies are currently underway for Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, PSP and Wilson’s disease. Drs. Bronstein, Bordelon and Subramanian are members of the Parkinson’s Study Group (PSG) and Dr. Bordelon is a member of the Huntington’s Study Group (HSG).
Some of these studies are investigator initiated while others are industry sponsored. These studies include novel therapies to treat these disorders, devices to better determine the needs of our patients, and magnetic and electrical stimulation studies. Funding comes from a variety of sources including the NIH, foundations and industry.
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