Parkinson’s disease (PD) is one of the most devastating neurodegenerative conditions. Although dopamine replacement treatment or deep brain stimulation can give remarkable temporary benefit to many patients, there is still no cure and it is not yet possible to significantly slow the progression of the disease.
However, in recent years we have seen a remarkable progress in the understanding of the genetic, molecular and cellular underpinnings of the disorder, and new treatments may be within reach in the not too distant future.
Supported by a major private donation and research grants from the MJFF and EU worth more than 2,5 Million Euro, the Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) in Tübingen have established the Defeat Parkinson’s Research Platform. Clinical and pre-clinical researchers will be joining forces to use cutting edge molecular, genetic, cell biologic and computational technologies to better understand the complex mechanisms underlying the disorder and to develop novel biomarkers and treatments.
In the Defeat Parkinson’s Research Platform we will work together in an interdisciplinary team to explore how genetic variability leads to alterations in cellular and molecular processes that define disease risk and progression. To achieve this goal, we will join forces with our international collaborators (http://pdgenetics.org) to investigate the entire genomic variation in large groups of affected and at-risk individuals with next-generation sequencing technologies and correlate this data with transcriptome and epigenome information to build gene expression models. We will then explore how these changes alter cellular processes by high content/high throughput analysis, even at the single cell level, use novel computational approaches to integrate these findings in complex models. With our expert knowledge on disease modeling in induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSc) and animal models we will then investigate selected genes in depth and bring our knowledge back to our patients to discover and validate novel biomarkers and treatments.
Through the enthusiasm of our teams, with the input of numerous collaborators and the help of generous funders we are confident that we will make a difference to PD research and find new treatments that better the lives of our patients and eventually will lead to a cure or even prevention of PD.
Thomas Gasser is Professor of Neurology and director of the Department for Neurodegenerative Diseases at the HIH and the University Hospital for Neurology and heads the Parkinson’s Genetics group at the HIH and the DZNE Tübingen. He has led one of the teams discovering the LRRK2 gene as the most common cause for autosomal dominantly inherited PD and has, together with collaborators, pioneered GWA studies in PD. More information
Peter Heutink is head of the Genome Biology of Neurodegeneration group and speaker of the DZNE Tübingen. His team has identified genes causing inherited PD and risk loci for sporadic PD. His current interest focusses on the investigation of the molecular effects of the large number of risk genes identified for both familial and sporadic PD using high throughput genomic, bioinformatic and cellomic methods in induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) cell models. More information
Philipp Kahle is head of the Functional Neurogenetics group at the HIH/DZNE Tübingen. Research aims at the understanding of neuropathological and epigenetics mechanisms of α-synuclein as well as mitochondrial quality control mechanisms regulated by recessive PD genes. More information
Michela Deleidi is a Helmholtz group leader at the DZNE-Tübingen and Junior Professor at the University of Tübingen. Her team works on the molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration, with a special emphasis on the role of inflammation in Parkinson's disease. More information
Kathrin Brockmann heads the Parkinson’s disease outpatient unit at the Department of Neurology and is affiliated with the Integrated Clinical and Research Unit (ICRU) of the DZNE Tübingen. Her team focuses on patient stratification according to imaging patterns, genetic architecture and biomarkers as one of the major prerequisites to develop pathway-specific and milestone-related therapies. More information
Inga Liepelt-Scarfone is a neuropsychologist. As head of the Integrated Clinical and Research Unit (ICRU) of the DZNE Tübingen, she is responsible for a seemless workflow in numerous clinical trials. She also runs studies on cognitive and behavioural interventions in PD.
Julia Fitzgerald is a junior group leader at the Hertie-Institute for Clinical Brain Research, Tübingen working on the biological processes underlying neuronal cell death in Parkinson’s disease. Using genetic models and patient derived cells, the group focus on biochemical signaling and have a long standing specialism in mitochondria and the role of mitochondrial proteins in Parkinson’s disease.
Christian Johannes Gloeckner is group leader at the DZNE Tübingen. His team is working on the functional analysis of the PD-associated proteins. The current focus of the work is on the functional analysis of LRRK2 by systematic mapping of protein-interaction networks, by biochemical methods as well as by structural modelling. More information
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Supported by a donation
in memory of
Dr. Eugen Dörzbach
A joint initiative