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.

West Michigan Neurodegenerative Diseases (MiND) Program

Van Andel Institute’s West Michigan Neurodegenerative Diseases (MiND) Program is a collaborative effort to identify genetic and epigenetic changes that may play roles in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Our goal? To move the needle in our understanding of these diseases, power new discoveries and leverage our findings to inform groundbreaking treatment strategies.

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Michigan Neurodegenerative Disease (MiND) Program Staff

Laurent Roybon, Ph.D.
Director, iPSC Platform
Erin Williams, Ph.D.
Manager, MiND Program

Recent Publications

Hatton C, Ghanem SS, Koss DJ, Abdi IY, Gibbons E, Guerreiro R, Brás J, International DLB Consortium, Walker L, Gelpi E, Heywood W, Outeiro TF, Attems J, McFarland R, Forsyth R, El-Agnaf M, Erskine D. 2022. Prion-like α-synuclein pathology in the brain of infants with Krabbe disease. Brain.

Prahl J, Pierce SE, Coetzee GA, Tyson T. 2022. Alpha-synuclein negatively controls cell proliferation in dopaminergic neurons. Mol Cell Neurosci 119:103702.

Khani M, Gibbons E, Brás J, Guerreiro R. 2022. Challenge accepted: Uncovering the role of rare genetic variants in Alzhemier’s disease. Mol Neurodegen 17(3).

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.