Department of Pharmacology & Chemical Biology at the University of Pittsburgh
Michael Zigmond, PhD
Professor, Neurology
7016 Biomedical Science Tower 3
3501 5th Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15260

Phone: 412-624-4258

Fax: 412-624-7327


BS (Chemical Engineering), Carnegie Institute of Technology, 1963.
PhD (Biopsychology), University of Chicago, 1968.
Postdoctoral Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1967-69.

Research Areas
Photo of Michael Zigmond, PhD

Michael Zigmond and his research group are interested in neuronal cell death, survival, and adaptation with particular attention paid to aging and to neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's disease. Much of the current work focuses on one of three questions:


 First, what underlies the loss of dopamine neurons in Parkinson's disease and how do trophic factors (e.g., GDNF and BDNF) and exercise act to decrease the vulnerability of these neurons? Second, what is the relation between dopamine neuron loss and the motor deficits that occur in normal aging? Third, how does prior exposure to a mild stressor reduce the vulnerability of dopamine neurons to a subsequent severe stress?


Of particular interest with regard to these questions is the role of signaling cascades (e.g., Ras/ERK, PI3K/Akt) and antioxidant capacity in increasing neuronal resiliency. Ongoing studies involve cell lines, primary cultures of dopamine neurons, and rodent models, and make use of cell and molecular biology, genomic analyses, immunocytochemistry, microdialysis, and behavioral analysis.


Zigmond and his colleagues believe that their studies will provide insights into the causes and treatment of some of the neurodegeneration that occurs during aging and neurological disease. The studies are being extended through a number of collaborations to including those with Dr. Judy Cameron (WPIC) that permit the group to study monkey models.

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