Roy Sillitoe, PhD, principal investigator at Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute and associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine, is exploring the causes of cell dysfunction and degradation in the cerebellum, the site where neuronal computations related to the precision of our movements originate.

More precisely, Dr. Sillitoe’s team is looking at dysfunctional Purkinje cells in the cerebellar cortex, and by manipulating these cells in mice at the genetic level, the researchers can very closely mimic the human phenotypes of ataxia, dystonia, and tremor. Recent advancements in genetic mapping tools have enabled the scientists to “selectively and specifically block neuronal communications at each type of synapse in the cerebellum independently.”