Skip to main content


Parkinson's Movement Disorders

Faculty within our division are conducting cutting-edge basic and clinical research to improve our understanding of Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders.

Basic Research

The laboratory of Nicole Calakos, MD, PhD, is investigating "synaptic plasticity," the process by which neuronal connections change in response to experience, especially the synaptic plasticity of cells known as the basal ganglia. These basal ganglia are involved in a variety of conditions ranging from Parkinson's disease to obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Translational Research

The research of Laurie Sanders, PhD, takes a translational approach (i.e. bench-to-bedside), aiming to translate multidisciplinary basic scientific research into meaningful health outcomes for patients with Parkinson's Disease. To do so, the laboratory combines all levels of analysis, from neurons in a dish to human studies. Sanders' team has adapted, developed, and are continuing to create and apply novel methods and technology for PD mechanistic investigation. The primary focus of this research is on the role of genome integrity and DNA repair in the pathogenesis of PD.

Clinical Research and Clinical Trials

Current clinical research efforts are highly focused on Parkinson’s disease and involve the study of motor symptoms, such as wearing-off and dyskinesias, and non-motor symptoms, including impulse control disorders, such as pathological gambling, and psychosis and cognitive disorders.

Clinical trials help develop new and innovative treatments for illnesses including Parkinson’s disease. The clinical trials program at Duke is well established and offers multiple trials for patients with early to advanced Parkinson’s disease.

These trials may provide symptomatic therapy as well as potential neuroprotective intervention. Clinical trials are the means by which Parkinson’s patients today can improve the treatment of Parkinson’s disease in the future.

The Duke Movement Disorders Clinic conducts a variety of clinical trials to test possible treatments for movement disorders. Trials for the following conditions are currently available. If you believe you have one of these conditions and would like to participate, click on the links below to see if you are eligible.