Alexandra Nelson, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor

Dr. Nelson is the Richard and Shirley Cahill Endowed Chair in Parkinson's Disease Research at UCSF. She is both a neuroscientist and behavioral neurologist, and is particularly interested in understanding neurodegenerative movement disorders. After undergraduate work at Stanford University, she received her medical and doctorate degrees in neuroscience at UC San Diego, where she studied cerebellar motor learning. She completed her Neurology residency and postdoctoral fellowship training at UC San Francisco and the Gladstone Institutes, where she studied basal ganglia circuits involved in Parkinson's Disease and dystonia. She joined the faculty at UCSF in 2014, establishing her laboratory in the Sandler Neurosciences Center. At the UCSF Memory and Aging Center, she provides care for patients and families with disorders of movement and cognition, such as Huntington's disease, spinocerebellar ataxia, and atypical parkinsonism and is part of the clinical and research team at the Huntington's Disease Center of Excellence at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center.

Dr. Nelson's laboratory studies the cells and circuits involved in movement disorders, using a combination of mouse models of disease, electrophysiology, and neural stimulation techniques, including optogenetics. She hopes that this work will help distinguish brain regions, cells, and patterns of brain activity that promote normal movement from those that produce pathological movement, allowing more focused development of new treatments for movement disorders.