Austen Milnerwood’s research centers on cell biological, electrophysiological and optical investigation of neural development, connectivity, transmission and plasticity. With a major focus on the early pathophysiology of adult-onset diseases such as movement disorders and dementia, his laboratory aims to develop neuroprotective treatments.
A strong theme has emerged from studying several proteins harbouring mutations that are autosomal dominantly linked to Parkinson’s disease, in other words, genes transmitted down the family line that are highly predictive for developing PD. There are several proteins that cause “familial PD,” e.g. LRRK2, VPS35 and synuclein. Milnerwood’s laboratory is finding that these proteins are involved in the same cellular functions. By learning more about what these proteins are supposed to do and what goes wrong with the mutations present, Milnerwood hopes to work out the common neuronal dysfunction of many forms of parkinsonism and then develop appropriate treatments.