Department of Neurodegenerative Science

Worldwide, between 7 million to 10 million people have Parkinson’s disease and more than 30 million have Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Currently, there is no cure and no effective way to slow or stop disease progression.

VAI scientists aim to change that by investigating the complex factors that give rise to neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders, from genetics and epigenetics to aging, inflammation and the structure of the brain itself — even the role of the gut and the immune system. By leveraging discoveries made in VAI’s labs and collaborating with researchers around the world, our scientists are working to translate breakthroughs into life-changing new treatments for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and related dementias, multiple system atrophy, and depression.


Recent Publications

Booms A, Coetzee G. 2021. Functions of intracellular alpha-synuclein in microglia: Implications for Parkinson’s disease risk. Front Cell Neurosci.

Lubben N, Ensink E, Coetzee GA, Labrie V. 2021. The enigma and implications of brain hemispheric asymmetry in neurodegenerative diseases. Brain Commun. 3(3).

Dehghani N, Guven G, Kun-Rodrigues C, Gouveia C, Foster K, Hanagasi H, Lohmann E, Samanci B, Gurvit H, Bilgic B, Brás J, Guerreiro R. 2021. A comprehensive analysis of copy number variation in a Turkish dementia cohort. Hum Genom 15:48.

Cornblath EJ, Li HL, Changolkar L, Zhang B, Brown HJ, Gathagan RJ, Olufemi MF, Trojanowski JQ, Bassett DS, Lee VYM, Henderson MX. 2021. Computational modeling of tau pathology spread reveals patterns of regional vulnerability and the impact of a genetic risk factor. Sci Adv 7(24):eabg6677.

Messerschmidt C, . . ., Brás J, Guerreiro R, Beule D, Dirnagl U, Sassi C. 2021. PHACTR1 genetic variaiblity is not critical in small vessel ischemic disease patients and PcomA recruitment in C57BL/6J mice. Sci Rep.

Bacelis J, Compagno M, George S, Pospisilik A, Brundin P, Torinsson A, Brundin L. 2021. Decreased risk of Parkinson’s disease after rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis: a nested case-control study with matched cases and controls. J Parkinson’s Dis.

Henderson MX, Changolkar L, Trojanowski JQ, Lee VMY. In press. LRRK2 kinase activity does not alter cell-autonomous tau pathology development in primary neurons. J Parkinson’s Dis.

Dehghani N, Brás J, Guerreiro R. 2021. How understudied populations have contributed to our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease genetics. Brain.

Li P, Killinger BA, Ensink E, Beddows I, Yilmaz A, Lubben N, Lamp J, Schilthuis M, Vega IE, Woltjer R, Pospisilik JA, Brundin P, Brundin L, Graham SF, Labrie V. 2021. Gut microbiota dysbiosis is associated with elevated bile acids in Parkinson’s disease. Metabolites 11(1):29.

Sha Q, Achtyes E, Nagalla M, Keaton A, Smart L, Leach R, Brundin L. 2021. Associations between estrogen and progesterone, the kynurenine pathway, and inflammation in the post-partum. J Affect Dis 281:9–12.