APDA Center for Advanced Research

APDA Center for Advanced ResearchFunded by American Parkinson Disease Association
Director: Marie-Francoise Chesselet, M.D., Ph.D.

The cutting edge and collaborative research in Parkinson’s disease at UCLA has earned the distinction of APDA Center for Advanced Research since 1998. As one of 9 such centers in the nation (the only one west of the Mississippi), the unique mission the Center of is to stimulate and expand research in PD through funding of new projects and bringing in new expertise into the field.  The generous APDA funding for pilot projects over the years has been instrumental in stimulating PD research. Pilot funding draws both young and established investigators with innovative ideas and capabilities to join our efforts, bringing enthusiasm and new ideas from other fields.  They also provide researchers to obtain preliminary data, creating a platform from which more substantial federally funded projects have begun.

The following pilot projects funded by the APDA over the past years:


  • Recruitment for research pilot study using CA registry data
    Beate Ritz, MD, PhD
    Professor, Neurology; Chair, Department of Epidemiology
  • Analysis of the time-course of monoaminergic homeostatic dysregulation and cell loss in thy-1 alpha-syn overexpressing mice
    Nigel Maidment, PhD
    Professor, Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences
  • Effect of PACAP gene deletion on an a-syn transgenic mouse model of PD
    Melanie Watson, PhD
    Post-doctoral Scholar, Neurology (Chesselet lab)
  • Dopamine transporter knock down in mice: dopamine neuron loss and susceptibility to pesticide exposure
    Franziska Richter, DVM, PhD
    Assistant Researcher, Department of Neurology

  • A zebrafish model of a-syn overexpression in peripheral sensory neurons and high resolution imaging to examine kinetics and cellular changes in axonal and neuronal degeneration, and to test neuroprotective mechanisms and compounds
    Alvaro Sagasti, PhD
    Associate Professor, Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology


  • Reproductive factors and Parkinson’s disease
    Nicole Gatto, MPH, PhD
    Assistant Researcher, Department of Epidemiology

  • Effect of PACAP gene deletion on an α-synuclein transgenic mouse model of Parkinson's Disease
    Melanie Watson, PhD
    Post-Doctoral Scholar, Department of Neurology (Chesselet)

  • Antisense oligonucleotide knockdown of alpha-synucleing
    Miriam Hickey, PhD
    Assistant Researcher, Department of Neurology


  • Examining the cardiovascular abnormalities in the a-syn mice with the cardiology core
    Sheila Fleming, PhD
    Assistant Researcher, Department of Neurology
  • Identification of various genetic contributors to PD by cross-breeding the a-syn mice to 10 strains of inbred mice
    Jake Lusis, PhD
    Professor, Medicine; Human Genetics

  • Identification of PD risk factors in a teacher’s cohort in California
    Beate Ritz, MD, PhD; Professor, Neurology, Epidemiology
    Nicole Gatto, PhD; Assistant Researcher, Epidemiology

  • Antisense oligonucleotide knockdown of alpha-synuclein
    Joseph Watson, PhD; Professor, Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences
    Miriam Hickey, PhD; Assistant Researcher, Neurology