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VIKRAM (VIK) KHURANA, MD, PHD

Principal Investigator

 

Medical School
M.D.         University of Sydney, 2000

Ph.D.        Harvard University, 2006 (Adviser: Dr Mel Feany)

Internship (Internal Medicine)
Brigham and Women’s Hospital, 2007

Residency (Neurology)
Brigham and Women’s and Massachusetts General Hospitals, 2010

Fellowship (Movement Disorders and Ataxia)
Massachusetts General Hospital, 2012

Postdoctoral Training
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research (Mentor: Dr Susan Lindquist;             Co-Mentor: Dr Rudolf Jaenisch)

I am currently the Chief of the Movement Disorders Division at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a principal research investigator in the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases. I am also Principal faculty at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, an Associate Member at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, and a 2018-2023 Robertson Stem Cell Investigator of the New York Stem Cell FoundationMy clinical and research interests relate to neurodegenerative movement disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, multiple system atrophy  and the cerebellar ataxias. For more than two decades I have been steadfastly focused on bettering our understanding of these devastating diseases and improving outcomes for my patients. 

I grew up in Sydney, Australia, and am a medical graduate of the University of Sydney. I came to Boston as a Fulbright Scholar in 2001, obtaining my Ph.D. in neurobiology from Harvard University in 2006. My dissertation adviser was Dr Mel Feany in the Department of Pathology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. I completed my residency in neurology at Brigham and Women’s and Massachusetts General Hospitals, and Fellowship training in movement disorders and ataxia at Massachusetts General Hospital with Drs Jeremy Schmahmann, John Growdon and Lew Sudarsky. During that time, I was awarded grants from the American Brain Foundation, Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, Multiple System Atrophy Coalition and Harvard Neurodiscovery Center. 

As a postdoctoral fellow, I led a Collaborative Innovation Award project from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in the laboratories of Drs Susan Lindquist and Rudolf Jaenisch at the Whitehead Institute. Working closely with a team of colleagues that included my wife Chee Yeun Chung, I developed a successful platform for drug discovery in stem cell models generated from Parkinson’s disease patients (Chung*, Khurana* et al. Science 2013).  Based on this work, we co-founded a company with Susan, Yumanity Therapeutics (see Chee Yeun’s TEDMED talk here) and co-developed a class of drugs, steroyl-co A desaturate inhibitors, for Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia. These are now in clinical trial for Parkinson’s disease and are being further developed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals. 

My current research efforts are squarely focused on precision therapies for neurodegenerative disease. My experiences in drug discovery have taught me that targeting a drug to the right patient in neurodegeneration is at least as difficult as developing the drug in the first place! The mission of the Khurana lab is to leverage the extraordinary resources we have in an academic hospital setting to overcome that hurdle. I am so grateful to be joined on this question by an incredible team, as well as many wonderful collaborators worldwide. I believe diversity of thought, discipline, origins and ideas is vital to a successful scientific endeavor. Our group comprise molecular and cell biologists, geneticists, clinicians and mathematicians. So far we have represented 10 different citizenships, 6  languages and 4 minorities – and we are majority women!

 I enjoy playing blues guitar, photography and long-distance kayaking tours. But these days I mostly struggle to keep up with my two young daughters. I would be quite incapacitated without the constant support of my life and scientific partner Chee-Yeun and my extended family back in Australia.

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