Derek Narendra, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Derek Narendra

Derek Narendra, M.D., Ph.D.

Lasker Clinical Research Scholar Investigator
Address
INHERITED MOVEMENT DISORDERS UNIT, NEUROGENETICS BRANCH

BG 35 RM 2A-215
35 CONVENT DR
BETHESDA MD 20814

Dr. Narendra received his B.A. from Columbia University in 2002, Ph.D. from University of Cambridge in 2012, and M.D. from the University of Michigan in 2012. During his graduate research with mentors Dr. Richard Youle and Professor Sir John Walker, he identified a novel mitophagy pathway involving the coordinated activities of Parkin and PINK1, mutations in which are the leading cause of Early Onset Parkinson’s Disease. He completed the Brigham and Women’s Hospital & Massachusetts General Hospital Harvard Neurology Residency Program in 2016 with additional fellowship training in movement disorders at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2017, Dr. Narendra received the McFarland Transition to Independence Award for Neurologist-Scientists and joined the NINDS as an Assistant Clinical Investigator within the Neurogenetics Branch (NINDS). His laboratory focuses on the molecular pathogenesis of Early Onset Parkinson’s Disease.

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Our group studies inherited movement disorders with a focus on the genetics and molecular pathogenesis of Early Onset Parkinson’s Disease (EOPD) (onset at 50 years or before). Whereas idiopathic Parkinson’s disease is typically sporadic, EOPD is frequently caused by mutation(s) in a single gene. Many of the genes responsible for EOPD have been identified.

The relationship among these genes in the molecular pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease, however, remains ill-defined. We recently discovered that two of these genes, Parkin and PINK1, function in a novel mitochondrial quality control pathway in which impaired mitochondria are targeted for lysosomal degradation by mitophagy (a selective form of macroautophagy).

Interestingly, two other genes causing EOPD, DJ-1 and the recently identified CHCHD2, share with Parkin and PINK1 a role in mitochondrial biology, suggesting commonalities in pathogenesis. To characterize the molecular pathogenesis of EOPD, we use a combination of novel genetic tools, advanced imaging methods like super-resolution microscopy, quantitative proteomics, and biochemical studies in cellular and mouse models. Additionally, we are collecting DNA samples and fibroblasts from patients with EOPD to better assess the contribution of known genes to the risk of EOPD and to uncover new causes of EOPD, using exome sequencing. It is our hope that these studies will ultimately clarify the molecular pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease and guide the development of disease-modifying therapy.