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Ever better neuroscience.

The collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to research in neurological disorders at the University of Rochester drives the search for answers and the discovery of new solutions to some of the world’s most devastating diseases.

Researchers at Rochester are using state-of-the-art technology to explore new methods for diagnosing neurological conditions, treating life-threatening diseases, and understanding some of the most complex functions of the human brain.

One of the leading research programs in this field is the Department of Neurology’s Center for Health + Technology (CHeT), which has helped conduct pivotal trials leading to seven FDA-approved treatments, including four for Parkinson’s disease. The Medical Center has played a leadership role in virtually every drug being used to treat the neurodegenerative disorder, taking Parkinson’s from a death sentence to a more manageable chronic illness. 

CHeT has also been identified as a flagship research program by the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience.  The Institute, which was created in 2009, has been instrumental in bringing together neuroscience and related research at the Medical Center and the River Campus. All told, there are 16 departments and centers at Rochester that are involved with the discipline, including Biomedical Engineering, Brain & Cognitive Sciences, Computer Science, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Optics, and the Rochester Center for Brain Imaging. This multidisciplinary work has made possible critical research into diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Multiple Sclerosis, as well as intellectual and developmental disabilities such as autism and dyslexia. 

UR Named National Center of Excellence for Parkinson’s Research

In October 2018 it was announced that the Medical Center as been selected as a Morris K. Udall Center of Excellence in Parkinson's Disease Research by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). The new $9.2 million award brings together researchers from industry and multiple academic institutions to focus on the development of digital tools to enhance understanding of the disease, engage broad populations in research, and accelerate the development of new treatments for Parkinson’s disease.

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More neuroscience news from the University of Rochester

researcher puts a camp with lots of electrodes onto a child while another reseacher helps

The beauty of team research

Together, neuroscience-related diseases are the leading cause of disability in the U.S.—affecting 18.7 million people—and represent the most unmet medical need in the industrialized world. For the majority of these diseases, there is yet no definitive cure beyond ameliorative medications and therapies. Early and accurate diagnosis and intervention remain critical to improving quality and duration of life.

“These are the fundamental problems of humankind and they can only be solved by unraveling the deep mysteries of the brain,” says John Foxe, a neurobiologist with more than 25 years of clinical and scientific experience in the field before coming to Rochester in 2015 as the director of the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience.

Learn how the Del Monte Institute tackles neurological and neuropsychiatric diseases from all fronts

smartphone with a screen that contains an image of a hand and text that reads REST YOUR PHONE ON A FLAT SURFACE THEN USE TWO FINGERS ON YOUR RIGHT HAND TO ALTERNATELY TAP THE BUTTONS THAT APPEAR

There’s an app for that

Research from Medical Center neurologists shows that mobile apps can accurately track the severity of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The findings could provide researchers and clinicians with a new tool to both develop new drugs and better treat this challenging disease.

“This study demonstrates that we can create both an objective measure of the progression of Parkinson’s and one that provides a richer picture of the daily lived experience of the disease,” says neurologist Ray Dorsey, a co-author of the latest study in journal JAMA Neurology.

Read more about this latest research on Parkinson’s disease



Patient plays saxophone while surgeons remove brain tumor

Music is not only a major part of Dan Fabbio’s life, as a music teacher it is his livelihood. So when doctors discovered a tumor located in the part of his brain responsible for music function, he began a long journey that involved a team of University of Rochester physicians, scientists, and a music professor and culminated with him awake and playing a saxophone as surgeons operated on his brain.

Read the full story of this team approach to surgery that saved a musician’s life and livelihood

illustration of nerve cells

Playing a key role in new Huntington’s drug

Medical Center researchers were instrumental in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recent approval of SD-809, or deutetrabenazine, to treat Huntington’s disease. Deutetrabenazine is the only the second drug authorized by the agency to treat this rare, inherited neurodegenerative disorder.

Learn more about the work of the Clinical Trials Coordination Center



professor posing with a robot

A professor and his robot study how we see

Meet Michele Rucci, a new professor in the University’s brain and cognitive sciences department, and his robot “Mr. T.” Rucci and his robot are using eye-tracking tools and virtual reality to replicate the small eye movements experienced by humans. Using a combination of head- and eye-tracking tools, virtual reality, and robots, Rucci’s current research brings together aspects of neuroscience, engineering, and computer science to study how we see.

Learn more about the questions Rucci’s lab is working to answer



image of a brain on a petri dish being held up by a hand wearing gloves

What disrupts communication in the brains of people with schizophrenia?

New research has identified the culprit behind the wiring problems in the brains of people with schizophrenia.

Glia are an important family of support cells found in the brain and play a critical role in the development and maintenance of the brain’s complex interconnected network of neurons. “The inability of these cells to do their job, which is to help nerve cells build and maintain healthy and effective communication networks, appears to be a primary contributor to the disease,” says Medical Center neurologist Steve Goldman.

Read more about this groundbreaking research into the underpinnings of schizophrenia



looking at the view of a person from inside an MRI scanner

What can we learn from 10,000 teenaged brains?

The University of Rochester Medical Center is participating in what is being characterized as the largest long-term study of brain development and child health. The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study will follow the biological and behavioral development of more than 10,000 children from ages 9-10 through early adulthood.

Rochester will join with 20 other research sites across the nation. “Children’s brains undergo tremendous structural changes during the period of adolescence,” said Edward Freedman, an associate professor in the Department of Neuroscience. “Our hope is that this study will enable us to identify and ultimately predict and prevent developmental problems and understand the protective social and biological building blocks that result in healthy and productive young adults.”

Learn more about this landmark study