Blair R. Leavitt
"There is a huge translational gap between breakthroughs made in the laboratory and new treatments in the clinic," says Dr. Leavitt. "We are working to bridge that gap, and the most common way to accomplish that is by using animal models of human disease."
The Leavitt lab develops new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases by generating and studying mice that have the same symptoms and genetic abnormalities as human diseases. A wide range of therapeutic strategies can be tested in these mice in order to find treatments that will be effective in humans.
"We model our mouse studies on the type of study we do in humans and then we take the most promising hits from there and bring them to human clinical trials," explains Dr. Leavitt.
Most of Dr. Leavitt's work focuses on Huntington disease and frontotemporal dementia, but his laboratory also works on a number of other neurodegenerative diseases that affect children, such as juvenile forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and ataxia.
"We have the clinical infrastructure well established at UBC," says Dr. Leavitt. "We can bring the most promising therapeutic strategies that we identify in our mouse studies into human clinical trials quite rapidly."
MAJOR ACHIEVEMENTS & PUBLICATIONS
Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Career Investigator Award – 2007
Young Investigator Award, Brain Research Centre, The University of British Columbia – 1999
Van Raamsdonk JM, Pearson J, Rogers D, Bissada N, Vogl AW, Hayden MR, and Leavitt BR. Loss of wild-type huntingtin influences motor dysfunction and survival in the YAC128 mouse model of Huntington disease. Human Molecular Genetics. 2005; 14(10)1379–92.
Magavi SS, Leavitt BR, and Macklis JD. Induction of Neurogenesis in the Neocortex of Adult Mice. Nature. 2000; 405:951–955.