January 9, 2017

Pilot Project: Optogenetic Interrogation of the Role of Dopamine in Motor Control

PI: Daniel Levanthal, M.D., PhD

Project V is funded as a $50,000 Udall Pilot Grant and directed by Dr. Daniel Leventhal. Dr. Leventhal is Assistant Professor of Neurology, University of Michigan Medical School, and co-director of the clinical Movement Disorders DBS program at the VAAAHS.

The goal oDr. Peter Scott f this study is to improve the treatment of Parkinson’s disease by understanding its systems-level pathophysiology. This study will help to determine, at a behavioral level, how striatal dopamine influences motor function. The expected outcome of this research is to clarify the specific roles of nigrostriatal dopamine in fine motor control. Our results will have a positive impact by moving beyond the simple observation that dopamine replacement improves parkinsonism to understanding the mechanisms by which it works. This will have important implications for adjusting treatment strategies with current therapies. More importantly, elucidating the motor functions of dopamine will allow further work to determine the underlying neuronal mechanisms by which these functions are implemented. Our long-term strategy will be to integrate the techniques developed here with in vivo recordings to address these important questions.