Anne B. Young, MD, PhD
Dr. Young is a world-renowned expert in Huntington’s and Parkinson’s diseases. She and her late husband (John B. Penney, Jr.) provided the most widely cited model of basal ganglia function (the basal ganglia are the brain regions affected by Huntington’s and Parkinson’s diseases). The model has provided the springboard for testing novel interventions in Huntington’s and Parkinson’s diseases and related disorders.
Most recently, Dr. Young has spearheaded comprehensive drug discovery efforts at the MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease, which has been successful in identifying drug targets for Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Dr. Young’s laboratory is examining the role of the protein alpha-synuclein, which plays a key role in the death of dopamine-producing brain cells in the Parkinson’s disease and other diseases with similar symptoms. Recently Dr. Young’s laboratory has examined the biology of synuclein in a group of Parkinson-like disorders, the Multiple Systems Atrophies. These studies suggest novel mechanisms in synuclein turnover, which may be relevant for treatments targeted at this protein.
Dr. Young is the Principal Investigator of the MGH/MIT Morris Udall Center of Excellence in PD Research, which brings together scientists in several laboratories at both institutions to try to understand the molecular mechanisms of Parkinson’s disease.
In addition to her work in Parkinson’s disease, Dr. Young’s laboratory is attempting to elucidate cellular and systems mechanisms underlying the pathophysiology of Huntington’s disease. In an effort to help develop therapeutic targets for human movement disorders, she is conducting studies on the vulnerability of neurons to excitotoxic injury and the selective expression of glutamate receptors in these neurons.
Her lab was also among the first to apply the new technology of large-scale DNA micro-array analysis to both Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease, revealing the importance of gene dysregulation in these disorders. Her group is pursuing the role that specific genes may play in the progression of Parkinson’s disease.
Dr. Young is a Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduate of Vassar College. She received an M.D. and a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from Johns Hopkins, and then completed residency training in neurology at the University of California, San Francisco. She was recruited to MGH as its first female chief at the hospital and the only female chief of neurology at an academic hospital in the country. Dr. Young holds membership in the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Royal Society. She is also the only person (male or female) to have been president of both the international Society for Neuroscience and the American Neurological Association.
Dr. Young is an established authority on the clinical diagnosis and treatment of both Parkinson’s disease and Huntington disease. She is a founding member of the Venezuela Huntington Disease Consortium, which played a key role in the discovery of the Huntington disease gene. She sees patients with Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and other movement disorders at MGH.