Our mission is to understand the mechanisms underlying neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease and related disorders and to develop new treatments for Parkinson’s disease.

     Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder, affecting over 1 million Americans currently. The societal burden of Parkinson’s disease (PD) will increase dramatically with an expected doubling in prevalence of this age-related neurodegenerative disorder over the next 20 years. While current treatments mitigate the symptoms and disability associated with PD, a major unmet need is the lack of effective therapies that slow the degenerative process. Development of effective therapies hinges on a clear understanding of the mechanisms underlying the neurodegenerative process, yet nearly two centuries after the initial description of the disorder by James Parkinson, relevant mechanisms involved in cell loss are poorly understood.

     Our laboratory focuses on two key genes that have been linked to Parkinson’s disease, alpha-synuclein and leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2). Current projects are focused on the 14-3-3 chaperone protein family and the Rab GTPases and how these may regulate the function and toxicity of these proteins in disease. We employ a wide variety of molecular, cellular, and in vivo techniques.

     Additionally, our group works in conjunction with the Alabama Udall Center to examine the role of inflammation in people with Parkinson’s disease.