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  UW Zhang Lab


News: 2007 Alzheimer Award to Jing Zhang, M.D., Ph.D.

Our Research in NEWS:
(1)Zhang Receives New NIH Funding Launches Parkinson's Biomarker Program
(2)Progress towards a molecular biomarker for Parkinson disease

Illustration of Parkinson's Disease by William Richard Gowers (1886)

Parkinson's Disease (PD), the most common serious movement disorder afflicting millions of Americans, is diagnosed when patients present with cardinal parkinsonian signs (bradykinesia, rigidity, tremor, and postural instability as depicted in the diagram above) and show a favorable responsiveness to levodopa or dopamine (DA) agonists.

Pathological hallmarks of PD are characterized by a significant loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra (SN) with resultant depletion of DA and the presence of Lewy bodies in the remaining neurons (indicated by an arrow in the micrograph photo below). Despite decades of extensive research, there is currently still no cure for the disease; largely because its pathogenesis has not been fully understood yet. In addition, there are quite a few other movement disorders that mimic PD clinically including response to levodopa (L-Dopa) and DA agonists, making an accurate diagnosis of PD is difficult sometimes even in the hands of the best trained. Finally, the natural course of PD varies substantially, with most patients first developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and then dementia as the disease progresses.

Micrograph Photo of a Lewy Body (Marked by Arrow)

Our Research Focuses On:

  • understand the molecular mechanisms of Parkinson's disease development
  • understand the molecular mechanisms of Parkinson's disease progression
  • explore unique biomarkers for diagnosing Parkinson's disease and monitoring its progression

The Zhang Research Laboratory is located in the University of Washington Harborview Medical Center Research and Training Building (R&T Building) in Seattle, Washington, USA.