Skip Navigation

Research

There is a rich history of movement disorders research at the University of Michigan. During their tenure at the University of Michigan, Drs. Anne Young and the late Jack Penney, together with Roger Albin, were instrumental in establishing the most influential model of basal ganglia function (the “classical model”). Our group pursues a wide variety of movement disorders research ranging from basic cell biology to animal model work, clinical research into pathophysiology, and clinical trials; specific research interests can be seen by reviewing the information associated with individual faculty members.

The Movement Disorders Group has close connections to the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center (MADC). The MADC and the Movement Disorders Group share an interest in cholinergic systems degeneration and consequent cognitive dysfunction, a synergistic overlap that benefits both groups. The wide-ranging strengths of these highly interactive groups create a tremendous intellectual environment that is a critical component of our research progress.

Neuroimaging studies are important components of studies of neurologic diseases and PET imaging particular research strength of the Movement Disorders Group. The Division of Nuclear Medicine, directed by longtime PD researcher Dr. Kirk Frey, boasts one of the nation’s leading PET research groups. Drs. Frey, Albin and Bohnen have long collaborated on imaging projects involving the characterization of cholinergic, dopaminergic and serotonergic systems in PD.

The Biopsychology Group in the Department of Psychology and the Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute (MBNI) are intellectual centers of excellence in neurobiological research, including in studies of basal ganglia function directly relevant to scientific questions addressed by several members of our group. Drs. Martin Sarter, Joshua Berke, Kent Berridge, Terry Robinson, and Jill Becker in the Biopsychology Group are all outstanding investigators who study basal ganglia function in normal behavior and disease, including Parkinson disease, and many members of the Movement Disorders faculty collaborate with these investigators. The MBNI is an important center for inter-disciplinary neuroscience research. Dr. Huda Akil, Co-Director of the MBNI, is a member of the National Academy of Sciences who is recognized internationally for her expertise in neuroscience, human disease modeling in rodents, and neurochemical mechanisms of disease.

U-M is a leading center of geriatrics research, and there are several links with geriatrics research initiatives and Movement Disorders faculty, including connections to faculty pursuing research on gait disorders in the elderly. All major aspects of geriatrics research are organized under the aegis of the U-M Geriatrics Center, which is directed by Dr. Jeff Halter. The Geriatrics Center consists of the Institute of Gerontology, the Nathan Shock Center for the Basic Biology of Aging, the John A. Hartford Foundation Center of Excellence in Geriatrics, the Mobility Research Center and the VA Geriatrics Research, Education, and Clinical Center (GRECC). Research on gait and balance in Parkinson disease is a focus of several Movement Disorders faculty, and this work is synergistic gait disorders studies pursued by the Biomechanics Core of the Pepper Center and the Mobility Research Center