Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative movement disorder that affects predominantly dopamine-producing (“dopaminergic”) neurons in a specific area of the brain called substantia nigra. April has been designated Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month and research expert Professor Markus Riessland from Stony Brook University is available to talk about recent developments in the search for a cure for PD including the discovery of possible “zombie” or senescence cells in dopaminergic neurons.

Symptoms of PD include tremor at rest in the hands, arms, legs, jaw, or head; slow movement; stiffness; loss of balance; soft speech; trouble swallowing; reduced facial expression; small handwriting and sleep disturbances among others. Nearly one million people live with PD in the United States with 60,000 Americans diagnosed each year.

Professor Markus Riessland is a SUNY Empire Innovation Program Assistant Professor.  

Professor Riessland is a trained molecular biologist with a background in neuroscience, human genetics and neurodegenerative diseases.  His research is particularly focused on the identification and characterization of neuron-specific disease-modifying factors that may facilitate the development of novel therapeutic strategies for degenerative disorders of the central nervous system including PD. Professor Riessland discovered cellular senescence or “zombie cells” in dopaminergic neurons. This finding could have widespread implications for the understanding of many age-related neurodegenerative disorders and the aging process itself.