Research at USF Health

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USF Parkinson’s, ataxia research excellence on display at AAN meeting

At the 65th American Academy of Neurology Annual (AAN) Annual Meeting this week in SanDiego, USF Health’s Department of Neurology has been featured in two areas of neuroscience research where faculty have garnered international recognition – Parkinson’s disease and ataxia.

Dr. Robert Hauser, professor of neurology and director of the USF Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center, was the lead investigator for three studies of investigational treatments that may benefit patients with unpleasant symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease or related conditions. The studies were selected for dual platform/poster presentation at the AAN’s Emerging Science Session on Wednesday, March 20. 


Dr. Robert Hauser

Dr. Hauser presented one of the three studies –a placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind trial investigating the effectiveness of a new add-on drug, rasagaline, in early-stage Parkinson’s patients whose symptoms were not well managed by a first-line dopamine agonist.

Dr. Theresa Zesiewicz, professor of neurology and director of the USF Ataxia Research Center, and Dr. Tuan Vu, professor of neurology and director of the USF Neuromuscular Division, presented posters at the meeting’s ataxia discussion session on Tuesday, March 19.  They worked with colleagues in the neurology departments at USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Harvard Medical School. 

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Dr. Theresa Zesiewicz

Dr. Zesiewicz was the lead author for the presentation detailing a new tool to assess ataxia and neurological dysfunction in patients with ataxia syndromes. Dr. Vu was lead author for the presentation describing how non-ataxic symptoms, like spasticity and sensory or motor impairment, may contribute to gait problems in those with spinocerebellar ataxias.

In addition, Dr. Zesiewicz and USF neuroepidemiologist Dr. Kelly Sullivan, members of the AAN Guideline Development Subcommittee, will lead a discussion on development of an evidence-based ataxia practice guideline.


Dr. Tuan Vu


Dr. Kelly Sullivan