Dr. Park is an internationally recognized expert in molecular biology focused on understanding the cellular mechanisms involved in Parkinson’s disease (PD) and stroke-related neurodegeneration. His PD research efforts focus on the genetic causes of the disease. He works largely on the genes linked to familial PD, namely DJ1, Pink1, Parkin and LRRK2. He has published extensively on neurotoxin vulnerability, mitochondrial deficits and mechanistic pathways in these contexts and on general mechanisms that contribute to neuronal death, such as oxidative stress and inflammation. With regards to his stroke work, Dr. Park focuses much of his efforts understanding the role of cell cycle machinery in post-stroke death and survival in order to better understand mechanisms that will contribute to improved neuronal recovery. The majority of Dr. Park’s work employs primary neuronal cultures and animal models of disease. He always encourages and fosters a collaborative environment, which is key to research growth and success. His work has been published in high impact journals such as Nature Cell Biology, Neuron, PNAS, Journal of Cell Biology, Journal of Neuroscience and Human Molecular Genetics.
Dr. Park’s laboratory is a pioneer in understanding the role of cell cycle machinery and mechanistic pathways involved in stroke damage. Dr. Park’s lab also recently published the first ever clinically-relevant, genetic DJ-1 Knock Out mouse model of PD, which displays progressive unilateral to bilateral degeneration accompanied by motor deficits and a heightened immune response. This mouse is the only one of its kind, as all previous models fail to capture the main clinical and pathological disease characteristics, which has greatly hindered advancements in PD-related research.
Dr. Park’s research is supported by the Canadian Institute for Health Research, the Ontario Brain Institute and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.