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The Morris K. Udall Parkinson Disease Centers of Excellence were established by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) in 1997, in honor of former congressman Morris K. Udall of Utah, who died of Parkinson’s disease.

The UCLA Morris K. Udall  Parkinson Disease Center of Excellence is part of the multidisciplinary Center for the Study of Parkinson’s Disease, with the specific goal of elucidating the mechanisms of cellular dysfunction in animal and cellular models, as well as in patients, ultimately leading to the development of more effective treatments for PD.

The main focus of the Udall Center at UCLA is to uncover the cellular and molecular events preceding the death of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra (the cause of Parkinson’s disease), which is expected to reveal targets for therapeutic intervention. Utilizing animal models with mutations in genes that are known to cause PD in humans, our scientists are able to look for clues about what goes wrong, both within the cells, and at the behavioral level. These basic research studies are complemented by epidemiological studies, which also evaluate the progression of motor and non-motor symptoms in patients, as well as whether these symptoms are impacted by behavioral, social, and environmental factors.

Some of the issues being addressed at the Center include: Are there any non-motor symptoms of the disease which manifest prior to motor symptoms, and could they serve as an early diagnosis tool? What happens to normal cellular function when there is a specific disease-causing mutation in those cells? How do environmental factors such as diet, stress, and exposure to toxins, affect the onset and progression of disease? Can we target any specific cellular pathways to prevent the progression of disease?

For more information, please visit the CSPD website.



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