Nicolas Tritsch, PhD
Name of Institution:
New York University Grossman School of Medicine, New York, NY
Revealing how striatal circuits gradually changes as dopamine neurons degenerate
Dr. Tritsch is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuroscience and Physiology and a member of the Fresco Institute for Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders at New York University Langone Health. His laboratory currently combines molecular, genetic, optical and physiological approaches to reveal how brain circuits that control voluntary movements orchestrate the initiation, execution and learning of motor actions, and how disorders like Parkinson’s disease (PD) corrupt these processes. Dr. Tritsch obtained his undergraduate and master’s degrees from McGill University in Canada before receiving a PhD in neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, under the mentorship of Dr. Dwight Bergles. He subsequently completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Bernardo Sabatini at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA, before starting his own laboratory at NYU in 2016.
To understand how neurons that normally receive dopamine signaling gradually change as the degeneration of dopamine-producing neurons progresses
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is caused by the progressive loss of brain cells that produce the chemical dopamine. Target neurons that normally sense dopamine signaling and depend on it to function properly, adapt to its gradual loss. Some of these adaptations underlie the motor symptoms that define the disease and the motor complications that accompany levodopa treatment. Our research aims to uncover exactly how the dopamine-sensing neurons change as dopamine-producing neurons gradually degenerate.
We will determine the complement of genes that dopamine-sensing neurons turn on or off as degeneration gradually worsens from mild to complete. We will do so using a technique called spatially-resolved RNA sequencing. This method will use engineered mice that allow us to experimentally control the density of the dopamine-producing neurons that interact with the dopamine-sensing neurons.
Relevance to Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease:
By revealing the molecular changes that define how dopamine-sensing neurons adapt to different degrees of dopamine-producing neuron degeneration, our work will provide novel insights into the pathophysiology of PD and enable the development of novel therapeutic approaches to prevent or reverse the onset of motor symptoms or the development of levodopa-induced dyskinesia.