Caryl E. Sortwell, PhD
Professor, Translational Neuroscience
Ph.D., 1994, University of Illinois at Chicago
Grand Rapids Campus
A current focus of the Sortwell laboratory is understanding how the growth factor pleiotrophin (PTN) participates in the development and maintenance of the nigrossystem. Neurotrophic factors have great potential as therapeutics in PD by providing long-term efficacy without the disabling side effects associated with current pharmacological treatments. She is currently studying the potential of PTN to provide neurorestoration in a rat model of PD, testing the hypothesis that viral vector-mediatedoverexpression of PTN in the adult rat nigrostriatal system can facilitate long-term functional recovery in a rat model of parkinsonism. Additional studies will examine whether PTN overexpression can improve dopamine graft survival and innervation the denervated host striatum. An additional focus of Dr. Sortwell's laboratory is to understand whether deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus (STN DBS) can slow down the progression of PD. Dr. Sortwell and her collaborators, are currently examining the magnitude and mechanism of neuroprotection conferred by high frequency stimulation of the STN in parkinsonian rats. The results of these studieinform the optimal therapeutic timing for intervention with STN DBS in PD patients.