Research achievements

Since its inception, the center has forged a strong, innovative path in Parkinson's disease research. This includes the identification and characterization of candidate and disease-associated genes, examination of neurobiological mechanisms, establishment of improved disease models, development and testing of potential therapeutics, and novel avenues of clinical research.

Major achievements include:

  • Discovery of the most common genetic cause of late-onset autosomal dominant Parkinson's disease — leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2)
  • Identification of genetic variants in the alpha-synuclein gene (SNCA) that are risk factors for Parkinson's disease
  • Identification of pathogenic mutations in the VPS35 gene in familial Parkinson's disease
  • Evidence that incidental Lewy body dementia is preclinical Parkinson's disease
  • Validation of the neuropathological criteria for Lewy body dementia
  • Development of novel synuclein constructs that permits in vitro and cell culture drug screening

Mayo Clinic Udall Center organization

View a chart of the Udall Center structure.

About Morris K. Udall Research Centers of Excellence

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke developed the Parkinson's Disease Research Centers of Excellence program in honor of former Rep. Morris K. Udall.

Mr. Udall was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1961 and was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1979; however, he remained active in Congress until his retirement in 1991. He died in 1998 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease.

When the Morris K. Udall Parkinson's Disease Research Act of 1997 was signed into law, it formed the Udall Centers and other initiatives.