Focus Areas

The Early-Onset Parkinson's Disease and Synucleinopathies Lab at Mayo Clinic is breaking new ground in the study of early-onset Parkinson's disease and related neurodegenerative disorders through these focus areas:

  • Epidemiologic studies. These studies give insights into how common different synucleinopathies are. This aids researchers and physicians in understanding the impact of neurodegenerative disorders. Epidemiologic studies help determine if certain populations are at a higher risk of developing synucleinopathies and how environmental factors and genetic predisposition interplay in the population at risk. Dr. Savica's lab has access to the Rochester Epidemiology Project, enabling extensive retrospective case-control studies with the aim of finding early predictors of developing synucleinopathies. In addition, the lab is studying the frequency of Parkinson's disease, dementia with Lewy bodies and parkinsonism-related disorders in the population. They have found that these conditions have become more frequent in the last few decades.
  • Biomarker identification. Biomarkers can be used to diagnose and prognosticate synucleinopathies and related disorders. Diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers are crucial for making medical decisions and choosing treatment and care for patients. In addition, biomarkers can be relevant in the early diagnosis and identification of individuals at risk.
  • Risk factor identification. The lab has identified novel risk factors and early manifestations, such as anemia and constipation, for the future development of Parkinson's disease diagnosis. The research team also is exploring the role of the different risk factors within sexes.
  • Disease progression. The lab developed a model of progression of disease, taking advantage of identified pre-motor symptoms and findings of early-onset Parkinson's disease and synucleinopathies.
  • Visual symptoms and head trauma. The research team is exploring the role of visual symptoms and head trauma in predicting the progression of Parkinson's disease.