Sonja Scholz

Sonja W. Scholz, M.D., Ph.D.

Lasker Clinical Research Scholar
Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Unit, Neurogenetics Branch (NGB)


Dr. Scholz is a Neurologist and Neurogeneticist specialized in movement and cognitive disorders. She received her medical degree from the Medical University Innsbruck, Austria. Following graduation, she was a post-doctoral fellow at the Laboratory of Neurogenetics (NIA) under the supervision of Drs. Andrew Singleton and John Hardy. She obtained a Ph.D. in Neurogenomics from the University College London, UK in 2010. She then moved to Baltimore to complete her neurology residency training at Johns Hopkins. In 2015, Dr. Scholz received the McFarland Transition to Independence Award for Neurologist-Scientists.  She is a Lasker Clinical Research Tenure Track Investigator within the Neurogenetics Branch (NINDS). Her laboratory focuses on identifying genetic causes of neurodegenerative diseases, such as dementia with Lewy bodies, multiple system atrophy, and frontotemporal dementia.

Advances in genomic technologies have provided us with unprecedented capabilities to explore heritable factors involved in the development of neurological diseases. Neurogenetics has already revolutionized how we think about common neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.

We extend these powerful genomic techniques to other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Lewy body dementia, multiple system atrophy, frontotemporal dementia, progressive supranuclear palsy, and corticobasal degeneration. The Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Unit (NDRU) has been established to achieve this aim. NDRU is integrated within the Laboratory of Neurogenetics, a leader in this field over the last decade. Its primary mission is to unravel molecular genetic mechanisms that cause these devastating diseases. This knowledge identifies targets for drug development. To maximize our impact, we are building on our national and international collaborations, and we leverage the unique resources within the Intramural Research Program at the NIH.

  • Paolo Reho, Ph.D.: postdoctoral fellow
  • Zalak Shah, Ph.D.: research analyst
  • Sultana Solaiman, Ph.D.: biologist

For a complete list of publications, please see MyBiobliography.

Selected Publications:

1) Chia R, Sabir MS, Bandres-Ciga S, Saez-Atienzar S, Reynolds RH, Gustavsson E, Walton RL, Ahmed S, Viollet C, Ding J, Makarious MB, Diez-Fairen M, Portley MK, Shah Z, Abramzon Y, Hernandez DG, Blauwendraat C, Stone DJ, Eicher J, Parkkinen L, Ansorge O, Clark L, Honig LS, Marder K, Lemstra A, St George-Hyslop P, Londos E, Morgan K, Lashley T, Warner TT, Jaunmuktane Z, Galasko D, Santana I, Tienari PJ, Myllykangas L, Oinas M, Cairns NJ, Morris JC, Halliday GM, Van Deerlin VM, Trojanowski JQ, Grassano M, Calvo A, Mora G, Canosa A, Floris G, Bohannan RC, Brett F, Gan-Or Z, Geiger JT, Moore A, May P, Krüger R, Goldstein DS, Lopez G, Tayebi N, Sidransky E; American Genome Center, Norcliffe-Kaufmann L, Palma JA, Kaufmann H, Shakkottai VG, Perkins M, Newell KL, Gasser T, Schulte C, Landi F, Salvi E, Cusi D, Masliah E, Kim RC, Caraway CA, Monuki ES, Brunetti M, Dawson TM, Rosenthal LS, Albert MS, Pletnikova O, Troncoso JC, Flanagan ME, Mao Q, Bigio EH, Rodríguez-Rodríguez E, Infante J, Lage C, González-Aramburu I, Sanchez-Juan P, Ghetti B, Keith J, Black SE, Masellis M, Rogaeva E, Duyckaerts C, Brice A, Lesage S, Xiromerisiou G, Barrett MJ, Tilley BS, Gentleman S, Logroscino G, Serrano GE, Beach TG, McKeith IG, Thomas AJ, Attems J, Morris CM, Palmer L, Love S, Troakes C, Al-Sarraj S, Hodges AK, Aarsland D, Klein G, Kaiser SM, Woltjer R, Pastor P, Bekris LM, Leverenz JB, Besser LM, Kuzma A, Renton AE, Goate A, Bennett DA, Scherzer CR, Morris HR, Ferrari R, Albani D, Pickering-Brown S, Faber K, Kukull WA, Morenas-Rodriguez E, Lleó A, Fortea J, Alcolea D, Clarimon J, Nalls MA, Ferrucci L, Resnick SM, Tanaka T, Foroud TM, Graff-Radford NR, Wszolek ZK, Ferman T, Boeve BF, Hardy JA, Topol EJ, Torkamani A, Singleton AB, Ryten M, Dickson DW, Chiò A, Ross OA, Gibbs JR, Dalgard CL, Traynor BJ, Scholz SW. Genome sequencing analysis identifies new loci associated with Lewy body dementia and provides insights into the complex genetic architecture. Nature Genetics. 2021; Mar;53(3):294-303.

2) Jabbari E, Koga S, Valentino RR, Reynolds RH, Ferrari R, Tan MMX, Rowe JB, Dalgard CL, Scholz SW, Dickson DW, Warner TT, Revesz T, Höglinger GU, Ross OA, Ryten M, Hardy J, Shoai M, Morris HR; PSP Genetics Group. Genetic determinants of survival in progressive supranuclear palsy: a genome-wide association study. Lancet Neurology. 2021 Feb;20(2):107-116.

3) Dewan R, Chia R, Ding J, Hickman RA, Stein TD, Abramzon Y, Ahmed S, Sabir MS, Portley MK, Tucci A, Ibáñez K, Shankaracharya FNU, Keagle P, Rossi G, Caroppo P, Tagliavini F, Waldo ML, Johansson PM, Nilsson CF; American Genome Center (TAGC); FALS Sequencing Consortium; Genomics England Research Consortium; International ALS/FTD Genomics Consortium (iAFGC); International FTD Genetics Consortium (IFGC); International LBD Genomics Consortium (iLBDGC); NYGC ALS Consortium; PROSPECT Consortium, Rowe JB, Benussi L, Binetti G, Ghidoni R, Jabbari E, Viollet C, Glass JD, Singleton AB, Silani V, Ross OA, Ryten M, Torkamani A, Tanaka T, Ferrucci L, Resnick SM, Pickering-Brown S, Brady CB, Kowal N, Hardy JA, Van Deerlin V, Vonsattel JP, Harms MB, Morris HR, Ferrari R, Landers JE, Chiò A, Gibbs JR, Dalgard CL, Scholz SW,* Traynor BJ*. Pathogenic huntingtin repeat expansions in patients with frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Neuron. 2021; 109(3):448-460.

4) Allnutt MA, Johnson K, Bennett DA, Connor SM, Troncoso JC, Pletnikova O, Albert MS, Resnick SM, Scholz SW, De Jager PL, Jacobson S. Human herpesvirus 6 detection in Alzheimer's disease cases and controls across multiple cohorts. Neuron. 2020 Mar 18;105(6)1027-1035.

5) Blauwendraat C, Pletnikova O, Geiger JT, Murphy NA, Abramzon Y, Rudow G, Mamais A, Sabir MS, Crain B, Ahmed S, Rosenthal LS, Bakker CC, Faghri F, Chia R, Ding J, Dawson TM, Pantelyat A, Albert MS, Nalls MA, Resnick SM, Ferrucci L, Cookson MR, Hillis AE, Troncoso JC, Scholz SW. Genetic analysis of neurodegenerative diseases in a pathology cohort. Neurobiology of Aging. 2019 Apr;76:214.e1-214.

6) A, Abramzon Y, Murphy NA, Gibbs JR, Ryten M, Ferrari R, Bras J, Guerreiro R, Williams J, Sims R, Lubbe S, Hernandez DG, Mok KY, Robak L, Campbell RH, Rogaeva E, Traynor BJ, Chia R, Chung SJ; International Parkinson's Disease Genomics Consortium (IPDGC), COURAGE-PD Consortium, Hardy JA, Brice A, Wood NW, Houlden H, Shulman JM, Morris HR, Gasser T, Krüger R, Heutink P, Sharma M, Simón-Sánchez J, Nalls MA, Singleton AB, Scholz SW. NeuroChip, an updated version of the NeuroX genotyping platform to rapidly screen for variants associated with neurological diseases. Neurobiology of Aging. 2017 Sep;57:247.e9-247.e13.

7) Sailer A, Scholz SW, Nalls MA, Schulte C, Federoff M, Price TR, Lees A, Ross OA, Dickson DW, Mok K, Mencacci NE, Schottlaender L, Chelban V, Ling H, O'Sullivan SS, Wood NW, Traynor BJ, Ferrucci L, Federoff HJ, Mhyre TR, Morris HR, Deuschl G, Quinn N, Widner H, Albanese A, Infante J, Bhatia KP, Poewe W, Oertel W, Höglinger GU, Wüllner U, Goldwurm S, Pellecchia MT, Ferreira J, Tolosa E, Bloem BR, Rascol O, Meissner WG, Hardy JA, Revesz T, Holton JL, Gasser T, Wenning GK, Singleton AB, Houlden H; European Multiple System Atrophy Study Group and the UK Multiple System Atrophy Study Group. A genome-wide association study in multiple system atrophy. Neurology. 2016 Oct 11;87(15)1591-1598.

8) Geiger JT, Ding J, Crain B, Pletnikova O, Letson C, Dawson TM, Rosenthal LS, Pantelyat A, Gibbs JR, Albert MS, Hernandez DG, Hillis AE, Stone DJ, Singleton AB; North American Brain Expression Consortium, Hardy JA, Troncoso JC, Scholz SW. Next-generation sequencing reveals substantial genetic contribution to dementia with Lewy bodies. Neurobiology of Disease. 2016 Oct;94:55-62.

9) Jakobsson M, Scholz SW, Scheet P, Gibbs JR, VanLiere JM, Fung HC, Szpiech ZA, Degnan JH, Wang K, Guerreiro R, Bras JM, Schymick JC, Hernandez DG, Traynor BJ, Simon-Sanchez J, Matarin M, Britton A, van de Leemput J, Rafferty I, Bucan M, Cann HM, Hardy JA, Rosenberg NA, Singleton AB. Genotype, haplotype and copy-number variation in worldwide human populations. Nature. 2008; 451(7181): 998-1003.

10) Camargos S, Scholz S, Simón-Sánchez J, Paisán-Ruiz C, Lewis P, Hernandez D, Ding J, Gibbs JR, Cookson MR, Bras J, Guerreiro R, Oliveira CR, Lees A, Hardy J, Cardoso F, Singleton AB. DYT16, a novel young-onset dystonia-parkinsonism disorders: identification of a segregating mutation in the stress-response protein PRKRA. Lancet Neurology. 2008; 7(3):207-15.