MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease

Translating today's discoveries into tomorrow's cures

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Schwarzschild, Michael, MD, PhD

Julieanne Dorn Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School

Director, Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital

Attending in Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital

Lab Phone: 617-724-9611
Lab Address: Building 114 16th Street, Room 3002


Michael Schwarzschild's lab investigates molecular mechanisms in mouse models of Parkinson’s disease in an effort to develop improved therapies for neurodegenerative diseases. His research extends to the clinic where he conducts trials of novel treatments with the potential to slow progression of Parkinson’s disease. The Schwarzschild lab focuses on a natural class of compounds known as purines, in particular the role of purines — adenosine, caffeine, inosine and urate — and how targeting them may prevent or slow the brain cell degeneration of Parkinson’s.

The lab has developed a non-standard strategy to identify and advance novel therapeutics that could help prevent Parkinson’s or keep it from worsening. Their research relies on convergent epidemiological and clinical clues to the disease deduced through fruitful inter-disciplinary collaborations with the Harvard School of Public Health and the Parkinson Study Group of North America. For example, their discovery that the major antioxidant urate is a biomarker of both lower risk and favorable progression of Parkinson’s prompted rapid pursuit of a disease-modifying drug candidate now in clinical development.

The lab explores the therapeutic potential for such drug targets and how they may work to protect brain cells in cellular and mouse models of Parkinson’s disease.


Dr. Schwarzschild is a Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and Attending Neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. He completed undergraduate training in biochemistry at Princeton University. He went on to medical, and graduate neuroscience training at Harvard Medical School to write his PhD thesis on the neurochemistry of tyrosine hydroxylase, the enzyme controlling dopamine biosynthesis. His neurology residency and Parkinson's disease fellowship training were at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Michael has been the recipient of a Cotzias Fellowship from the American Parkinson's Disease Association and a Paul Beeson Physician Faculty Scholar Award in Aging Research. He has led disease progression studies of the PSG, a consortium of North American clinical trial sites and investigators dedicated to finding improved treatments for Parkinson’s. In 2012, he was elected to lead the PSG, now headquartered in the Massachusetts General Hospital Neurology Department. He works with Parkinson's patients and their families in his weekly movement disorders clinic at MGH.