Isacson, M.D., Ph.D.
Penelope Hallett, Ph.D.
Jan Pruszak, MD
Arnar Astradsson, MD
Michela Deleidi, MD
Gunnar Hargus, MD, Ph.D.
Jesse McLean, Ph.D.
Teresia Osborn, Ph.D.
Ling Lin, MD, Ph.D.
Ángel Viñuela, MD, Ph.D.
Oliver Cooper, Ph.D.
The Morris K. Udall Center for Excellence in Parkinsons
Research at Harvard University / McLean Hospital
Program in Neuroscience,
Harvard Medical School
McLean Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital
This program focuses on the mechanisms and dynamics
of neuronal regeneration, degeneration and protection
with particular emphasis on the neurodegenerative disorders
like Parkinson's, Huntington's, and Alzheimer's . Our
understanding of regeneration and plasticity of the
mammalian nervous system has developed greatly over
the last decade, due to basic research in rats following
implantation of fetal,
cultured or genetically engineered cells into the adult
brain . While the adult brain previously was thought
of as a non-regenerative system for pathway formation,
recent studies show how dissociated primordial neurons
implanted into the adult central nervous system can
grow to reconnect neuronal pathways and integrate in
a molecular and physiological fashion. Thus, anatomical,
neurochemical, molecular and behavioral parameters indicate
that reconstructive events can take place also in the
degenerated adult brain.
The cellular, physiological and molecular events associated
with progressive neuronal death and degeneration in
the neurodegenerative diseases are still unknown. We
search for causal events involved in maintaining neuronal
plasticity and health on a cellular level, by (a); constructing
model systems that as closely as possible simulate the
regional and cellular degeneration seen in brains with
neurodegenerative disease, and (b); testing various
factors and conditions that may prevent or reverse degeneration
in such models. These studies combined are likely to
yield to a better understanding of regeneration, development
and plasticity of the brain both at a cellular and system
integration level. In addition, our research may lead
to future therapies for neurodegenerative disease.
Key words: Parkinson's, Huntington's,
Alzheimer's, Treatments, Neural transplants, Neuroprotection,
Gene Therapy, Animal models.
Project Sites: Neuroregeneration
Lab., Dept. of Neurology and Program of Neuroscience,
Harvard Medical School, McLean Hospital/Massachusetts
General Hospital (Dr. Ole Isacson). Harvard Medical
School, New England Regional Primate Research Center,
(Dr. Roger Spealman). Massachusetts General Hospital,
Dept. of Radiology, Boston (Dr. Anna-Liisa Brownell).
Massachusetts General Hospital, Neurosurgery Research,
Boston (Dr. Robert L. Martuza). Massachusetts General
Hospital, Neurogenetics Lab., Charlestown (Dr. Xandra
O. Breakefield). Neurological Associates, Sarasota Florida
(Dr Jim Schumacher), Brain Repair Centre, Dalhousie
University, Halifax, Nova Scotia (Dr. Ivar Mendez).
Program Director: Dr. Ole
Isacson , McLean Hospital, Neuroregeneration Laboratory,
115 Mill Street, Belmont, MA 02178. Contact Person,
Dr. Ole Isacson, Director, Telephone: (617) 855-3243,
FAX: (617) 855-3284, E-Mail: email@example.com
Training Opportunities: Currently there
are 5 post-doctoral fellows and 2 graduate students.
There is a possibility of openings for other trainees
at the pre and postdoctoral level if funds are made
- Isacson, O. (1995) On behavioral effects and gene
delivery in Parkinson's rat model. Science, 269, 856-857.
- Isacson, O., Deacon, T.W., Pakzaban, P., Galpern,
W.R., Dinsmore, J., and Burns, L.H. (1995) Transplanted
xenogeneic neural cells in neurodegenerative disease
models exhibit remarkable axonal target specificity
and distinct growth patterns of glial and axonal fibres.
Nature Med. 1, 1189-1194.
- Mendez I, Vinuela A, Astradsson A, Mukhida K, Hallett
P, Robertson H, Tierney T, Holness R, Dagher A, Trojanowski
JQ, Isacson O. (2008) Dopamine neurons implanted into
people with Parkinsons disease survive without
pathology for 14 years. Nat Med;14:507-9.
- Soldner F, Hockemeyer D, Beard C, Gao Q, Bell GW,
Cook EG, Hargus G, Blak A, Cooper O, Mitalipova M,
Isacson O, Jaenisch R. (2009) Parkinsons disease
patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells free
of viral reprogramming factors. Cell 136, 964-977.
- Chung, CY, Koprich JB, Hallett PJ, Isacson O. (2009)
Functional enhancement and protection of dopaminergic
by RAB3B overexpression. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 106:22474-79.