Michael A. Schwarzschild, MD, PhD
Julieanne Dorn Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School
Director, Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory at MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Dr. Schwarzschild directs the Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory at MIND/MGH, focusing on the role of purines — adenosine, caffeine and urate — among environmental and genetic influences in animal models of PD. Together with Dr. Jiang-Fan Chen he discovered the neuroprotective properties of adenosine A2A receptor blockers including caffeine in pre-clinical models of the disease. His research team provided evidence that these drugs may help prevent dyskinesia, a side effect of standard anti-parkinsonian therapy. His leadership of international academic-industry conferences on A2A receptors in Parkinson’s helped facilitate further development of this drug target as a viable therapeutic, currently in phase 3 clinical trials.
Through a fruitful cross-disciplinary collaboration with epidemiologist Dr. Alberto Ascherio of the Harvard School of Public Health, Dr. Schwarzschild and his colleagues investigated why disease progression is mild in some and rapid in others. They showed that the purine antioxidant urate can serve as a predictor of not only the risk of PD, but also the rate at which it progresses. Their group has rapidly translated these epidemiological and lab findings to develop a urate-elevating drug as a candidate neuroprotective strategy, with a phase 3 “disease modification” trial initiated in 2016.
Dr. Schwarzschild received a George C. Cotzias Fellowship award from the American Parkinson's Disease Association and a Paul Beeson Physician Faculty Scholar Award for Aging Research. Since 1997 he has been an active clinical investigator in disease progression trials of the Parkinson Study Group (PSG), a network of over 120 credentialed PD trial centers across N. America. With Dr. Hubert Fernandez he was elected to lead the PSG through 2018. At MGH he works with Parkinson's patients and their families in his weekly movement disorders clinic.
- Purine Biomarkers of LRRK2 PD (2014)
- Inosine for Parkinson's Disease: Safety and Trial Design Optimization (2007)
- Targeting Urate: A Molecular Correlate of Both Risk and Progression in PD (2007)
- Adenosine A2A Receptors in a Pre-clinical Model of PD Dyskinesias (2003)
- Caffeine and the Risks of Disease Progression and Dyskinesias in PD (2001)