Skip to Main Content


The high prevalence of movement disorders throughout the world means that a large number of people are afflicted with diseases that are characterized by involuntary movements (e.g. essential tremor, Parkinson’s disease, tics, dystonia, restless legs syndrome). Clinical research in the Movement Disorders division takes on a number of forms, including research on the clinical features, epidemiology, genetics, neuroimaging characteristics, and pathological mechanisms of these disorders. All of the clinical research in the division involves the participation of patients who have involuntary movements. The bulk of current clinical research relates to Parkinson’s disease. Clinical studies in the division also extend to the area of experimental therapeutics, where a number of treatment trials are currently underway.


Measuring Synaptic Density in Parkinson's Disease with SV2A PET Imaging

Synaptic changes play a critical role in the pathogenesis and progression of PD. This study investigates the changes in synaptic density in individuals with PD by using positron emission tomography (PET) imaging with 11C-UCB-J, a recently developed PET radiotracer that binds to the synaptic vesicle glycoprotein, 2A. Contact principal investigator David Matuskey, MD for more information.

Yale Parkinson’s and REM Behavior Disorders Research Study

We are seeking patients who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in the past 10 years and persons with REM sleep behavior disorder (with or without Parkinson’s disease) to participate in a research study at the Yale School of Medicine. Our research group in Yale’s Department of Neurology, under the leadership of Dr. David Hafler is conducting a clinical research study funded by Aligning Science Against Parkinson’s (ASAP) to determine the role played by the immune system in the initiation and evolution of the pathological processes of REM sleep behavior disorder and Parkinson’s disease. Our hope is to uncover information that will ultimately allow us to design a clinical trial to use immunosuppressing medicines to prevent or slow progression of Parkinson disease. This observational, non-treatment trial is the first step.

If you decide to participate in the study, you will be invited to Yale’s clinical research unit in New Haven, Connecticut to undergo clinical assessment and for the collection of biological samples including blood, stool, and spinal fluid. In addition, you may be asked to undergo a brain scan. Please email our research coordinator, Kara Mead, or call her at 203-785-2285 if you are interested in learning more about our study.

Clinical Trials

Ketamine Clinical Trial

Parkinson disease not only affects a person's mobility, but also many other symptoms in a person with Parkinson disease life. Depression is a very common symptom caused by Parkinson disease, and adequate treatment is imperative for patients to feel their best. Through collaborations between Drs. Sophie E. Holmes and Gerard Sanacora of Psychiatry and the Movement Disorders group, researchers are conducting the first clinical trial of ketamine as an antidepressant in PD. Due to how it works in the brain – its ability to help form new synapses – they have strong reason to believe it will effectively treat depression, and possibly other symptoms, in PD. Using brain imaging before and after treatment will help to determine how it works in the brains of people with Parkinson’s for the first time. The trial is taking place at the Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital. In this video, hear more about the trial from Drs. Holmes and Sanacora and from Brenda, who talks about her experience participating in this groundbreaking research.

Watch video