Movement Disorders

Clinical Research

The Movement Disorder Program is actively engaged in clinical research in Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders including atypical Parkinsonism, Wilson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease.  Studies include observational, genetic, medication trials, Transmagnetic and Direct current stimulation, and surgical interventions. To find out about ongoing clinical trials, please visit our Clinical Trials Page.

Basic/Translational Research

Directed by Dr Marie-Francoise Chesselet, the Center for the Study of Parkinson's Disease (CSPD) is the major basic research unit dedicated to addressing the unmet demand for treatments that halt or even reverse the course of the disease. One of the nation's leading centers for basic and translational research on Parkinson's, the CSPD is a collaborative effort among faculty from the Neurology department with colleagues in other departments and Schools at UCLA. Research projects in the CSPD range from studying the effect of genes and environment in humans, animal, and cellular models, to understanding the role of molecular and cellular factors in neuroprotection and neurodegeneration

For additional information about Movement Disorder Program please visit the web link below


Jeff Bronstein, MD, PhD

As part of his commitment to caring for patients as a neurologist and head of the UCLA Movement Disorders Program, Dr Bronstein is deeply involved in conducting basic research to elucidate the genetic and environmental risk factors for Parkinson's disease. Based on data obtained in collaboration with other investigators at the CSPD, and large-scale epidemiological study of PD patients, Dr Bronstein's team utilizes cellular and molecular analyses to uncover the critical cellular pathways that are involved in dysfunction and degeneration. They have shown, for example, that certain pesticides disrupt the ubiquitin-proteasome system, increasing cellular vulnerability to PD, and that susceptibility is magnified in the presence of certain genetic variants of the dopamine transport system. Dr Bronstein's experiments have not only shed light on the underlying processes in the critical interplay of genes and environment, but are paving the way to find possible drug targets to halt or alter the course of disease. Dr Bronstein's lab is also developing a zebrafish model of alpha-synuclein overexpression, a hallmark of PD, which not only will facilitate the testing of a myriad of potential therapeutics, but provide a simple model system to study how alpha-synuclein toxicity leads to PD.

Beate Ritz, MD, PhD

Dr Ritz is a professor of Neurology, and the Chair of the department of Epidemiology. The large-scale epidemiological studies conducted by Dr Ritz are an integral component of the basic science projects at the Parkinson's disease, where information obtained in human studies is tested in the laboratory, and new findings at the bench are translated into new directions in human studies. Utilizing detailed information collected from a large group of Parkinson's disease patients in the agricultural Central Valley of California, Dr Ritz's group evaluates the genetic and environmental risk factors and how they interact in Parkinson's disease. Results obtained in these studies provide the foundation for a number of basic science projects in Parkinson's disease, specifically involving pesticide exposure and genetic vulnerability.

Since basic science work at the CSPD is interwoven with human studies, the continued uncovering of mechanisms of dysfunction in PD, and subsequent creation of better and accurate animal models, also impacts our understanding of the progression of PD. As we begin to better define pre-manifest deficits, and characterize the progression of non-motor deficits in animal models, it has become clear that our current protocol for classifying and evaluating the various motor and non-motor progression of the disease in humans is sadly inadequate. Dr Vickrey's team is developing a new Health Related Quality of Life measure which takes into account the many environmental, genetic, social, and behavioral determinants of PD, and will provide a more complete picture of the disease and the progression of motor and non-motor aspects.

Yvette Bordelon, MD, PhD

Dr Bordelon is a neurologist specializing in movement disorders, and a basic scientist looking for better solutions to address neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington's and Parkinson's. Her research focuses on developing new biomarkers and neuro-imaging capabilities to help in early diagnosis of PD and HD, prior to the overt presentation of symptoms. Dr Bordelon is also an active contributor to the team led by Dr Beate Ritz to discover environmental and genetic risk factors for PD by studying rural populations of the California central Valley.