Albert A. Davis, MD, PhD

Washington University in St. Louis (WU)

My laboratory studies molecular and cell biological mechanisms of Parkinson disease (PD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). There are no effective treatments to slow disease progression and no diagnostic tests that can reliably confirm the diagnosis in living patients. The etiology of PD and DLB is complex, with genetic and environmental contributions. One shared feature is the accumulation of insoluble protein aggregates termed Lewy bodies, which contain misfolded forms of a protein called alpha-synuclein (aSyn). aSyn aggregates are toxic to brain cells, but the mechanism of this toxicity and the reasons that aSyn aggregates in the first place are not well understood. We are using multiple complementary approaches to try to better understand how and why aSyn forms toxic aggregates within the brain so that we can understand who is at risk of developing these diseases and how we can prevent and treat them.