Dr. Waugh is a physician scientist whose research focuses on the structural brain abnormalities that lead to dystonia, a movement disorder that leads muscles to twist and contort into painful positions. While dystonia can result from brain injuries (such as stroke or birth injury), many patients have an inherited basis for their dystonia. The Waugh lab aspires to understand the ways that brains with dystonia differ from healthy individuals, and we use three paired methods to investigate these differences:

  • We utilize multimodal MRI data of patients with genetic forms of dystonia (including DYT1, XDP, DYT11) and individuals with primary dystonia that is believed to be inherited (idiopathic dystonia).
  • We study brain development using MRI at the ages when dystonia commonly begins. Since childhood-onset dystonia is phenotypically distinct from adult forms of dystonia, describing the evolution of brain structure and functional interdependency through development is essential to understanding the unique features of childhood-onset dystonia.
  • We combine ex vivo MRI and histochemical assessment of cadaveric brain tissue to describe striatal anatomy from the millimeter scale to the micrometer scale.
  • Striosome v Matrix

Ongoing Projects

  • The structural bases of dystonia
  • Using histology and tractography to target structures for Deep Brain Stimulation (VIm)
  • Regional brain volume in childhood-onset neurodegenerative diseases