Digging deeper: our stories

Finding treatments

Clues for treating a disease can sometimes be gleaned by observing how normal tissues and cells behave. Harvard NeuroDiscovery Center scientists are teaming up to study a group of cells in developing mouse brains that may hold clues for better therapies for neurodegenerative diseases.


“Progenitor” cells give rise to all nerve cells in the brain during embryonic development. It is possible that these cells — present in small numbers in adult brains but abundant in embryos — may be somehow coaxed into replacing cells that are damaged or lost to the ravages of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or other neurodegenerative diseases.

Researchers from Christopher Walsh’s lab at Harvard Medical School used a high power microscope and other resources at the Harvard NeuroDiscovery Center’s imaging facility. The aim was to closely examine how progenitor cells in the brains of mouse embryos divide and differentiate into mature nerve cells.

About the Harvard NeuroDiscovery Center

Established in 2001 by Dr. Joseph Martin (Dean of Harvard Medical School, 1997-2007), the Harvard NeuroDiscovery Center is a pioneering biomedical research group focused on ending suffering from neurodegenerative diseases. By drawing on the intellectual strength and proven capability of the Harvard medical community and colleagues throughout the world, the NeuroDiscovery Center has developed a unique approach to understanding and treating these devastating diseases. 

Our focus:

  • Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and other degenerative diseases of the brain.

  • Combining academic creativity with a business-like approach to ensure a focused and efficient effort to advance the search for cures.

  • Accelerating the pace of progress, from scientific discoveries to meaningful patient treatments.

  • Real collaboration across the Harvard Medical community, prominent research centers worldwide and the private sector.

  • Applying discoveries about one neurodegenerative disease to better understand the others. 

Whereas our ultimate goal is simple — to improve the lives of the millions who face the physical, emotional, and economic burden of neurodegenerative diseases — these diseases represent a far too complex and urgent problem for any one group to tackle. To date, we have engaged over 800 researchers in a growing portfolio of outcome-directed research programs. For visionary philanthropists and scientists, participation in the Harvard NeuroDiscovery Center's work offers the best hope for progress — please join us!

As of December 2010, the Harvard NeuroDiscovery Center has 934 members from various institutions within the Medical area. The chart below lists the primary affiliations of our members: