Dr. Caryl Sortwell

Dr. Caryl Sortwell completed her undergraduate degree in biological psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana and continued her training in Anatomy and Cell Biology at the University of Illinois, Chicago, receiving her PhD in 1994. Under the mentorship of Dr. John Sladek, Jr and Dr. Timothy Collier, Dr. Sortwell received postdoctoral training. It was at this time that she was introduced the field of neural repair for Parkinson’s disease (PD). In 1995, she joined as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurological Sciences at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. In 2005 she joined the Department of Neurology at the University of Cincinnati as an Associate Professor and in 2009 she joined the Division of Translational Science and Molecular Medicine as a Professor at the new Michigan State University College of Human Medicine campus in Grand Rapids.

Currently Dr. Sortwell’s research focuses on developing therapeutic strategies for the treatment of PD. She uses various methods including: transplantation, trophic factor augmentation and deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus. Dr. Sortwell is part of a collaborative research team which includes Dr. Timothy Collier, Dr. Kathy Steece-Collier and Dr. Jack Lipton. Together the team has been designated a Udall Center of Excellence for Parkinson’s Disease Research.  One of Dr. Sortwell’s primary research interests in characterizing the time course and magnitude of nigrostriatal degeneration in PD rat models and subsequent functional impairment in these animals. She utilizes these rat models to determine the efficacy of various neuroprotective approaches and their effect on slowing degeneration.

In addition to her work with animal models, Dr. Sortwell’s has primary expertise in several techniques including: primary neuronal cultures, ex vivo and in vivo gene therapy, stereotaxic surgery, immunohistochemistry, embryonic and adult brain tissue microdissection, behavioral evaluations of motor performance in rodents, DBS platform, as well as ElISA, western blot and stereology.

2016 Caryl Sortwell Advisor Fellow: Dr. Joseph Patterson, Optimization of Nigrostriatal Degeneration in the α-synuclein preformed fibril Rat Model