The Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory, founded in 1998, studies the biology of brain cells that rely on the brain chemical dopamine to communicate. Major brain disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, ADHD, 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 components from these cells, like the protein Nurr1, which is critical for dopamine neurons and inflammation, in order to understand and reverse the damage. Thus, Nurr1 represents a potential drug target for associated human disorders.
In addition, 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 novel and safe reprogramming methods to generate patient-specific stem cells.