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McLean researcher

Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory

The Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory, founded in 1998, studies the biology of brain cells that rely on dopamine, a brain chemical, to communicate. Disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia are related to abnormalities affecting these cells.

Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and autoimmune diseases involve damage to specific cell types. We work to identify the defective component(s), like the protein Nurr1, which is critical for dopamine neurons and inflammation, in order to understand and reverse the damage to dopamine neurons.

Our neuroscientists pioneered the development of safe patient-specific stem cells using a new technique—a highly promising breakthrough for treating and studying human diseases. Cell replacement therapies require clinically safe stem cells that can be used to generate many (possibly all) types of cells. We introduced a safe protein-based method to generate these patient-specific stem cells.

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