Michael Jakowec, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Neurology
Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California

Michael Jakowec, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Neurology at the University of Southern California with cross appointments in Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy as well as Pharmacy. He obtained his Ph.D. in molecular biology from USC and did postdoctoral training in biophysics and neuroscience at Yale University and Columbia University. After working with Bill Langston at the Parkinson’s’ Institute he joined USC. The primary focus of his research is to better understand the mechanisms by which exercise and other forms of experience, including diet, influence the circuitry of the brain. Current studies are examining the effects of intensive exercise and skill-based training on neuronal connectivity, blood flow, and brain metabolism in animal models of Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and drug addiction. In collaboration with other researchers at USC, studies from the lab have provided a foundation in a number of translational studies to better understand how exercise can be applied to patients suffering from brain disorders to improve motor function and cognition, especially Parkinson’s disease. In collaboration with Giselle Petzinger, MD, studies from the basic research lab have been utilized to design and interpret clinical studies in patients with Parkinson’s disease including establishing a mechanistic link between cognitive and motor circuits as demonstrated with neuro-imaging. Along with Sarah Ingersoll at USC, he participates in a community running program that encourages patients with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers to improve their quality of life through physical activity. In addition to teaching newly developed graduate and undergraduate courses on neuroplasticity, Dr. Jakowec also has a general interest in educating the public on how lifestyle can influence brain health and improve healthy aging. When not in the lab he runs 10K races and the odd marathon.

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