Alexandra Nelson, MD, PhD

Neurologist

Dr. Alexandra Nelson is a neurologist who cares for patients with disorders that affect both movement and cognition, such as Huntington's disease, spinocerebellar ataxia and atypical parkinsonism. She also works closely with her patients' families. She is a member of the clinical and research team at UCSF's Memory and Aging Center and Huntington's Disease Clinic, designated a center of excellence by the Huntington's Disease Society of America.

As both a neuroscientist and behavioral neurologist, Nelson is particularly interested in understanding neurodegenerative movement disorders, conditions in which progressive nerve-cell degeneration can diminish both mental and physical function. Her laboratory team studies the cells and circuits involved in movement disorders. She hopes her work will help distinguish brain regions, cells and patterns of brain activity that promote normal movement from those that produce abnormal movement, allowing development of more focused treatments.

Nelson earned her medical degree as well as a doctorate in neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego, where she studied cerebellar motor learning. She then completed a residency in neurology at UCSF and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Gladstone Institutes, where she investigated specific neurological circuits involved in Parkinson's disease and dystonia, or abnormal muscle tone.

Nelson joined the UCSF faculty in 2014. She is an assistant professor of neurology and the Richard and Shirley Cahill Endowed Chair in Parkinson's Disease Research. She belongs to the Society for Neuroscience, American Neurological Association, International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society and Huntington Study Group.

Clinics

Huntington's Disease Clinic
1500 Owens St., Suite 320
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-2057
Fax: (415) 353-8292

Hours: Monday to Friday
8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Memory and Aging Center
1500 Owens St., Suite 320
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-2057
Fax: (415) 353-8292

Hours: Monday to Friday
8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Board Certification

Neurology, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology

Academic Title

Assistant Professor

More about Alexandra Nelson

Education

UC San Diego, Ph.D., Neuroscience 2006
UC San Diego School of Medicine 2006

Residencies

UCSF, Neurology 2010

Fellowships

Gladstone Institutes 2014

Selected Research and Publications

  1. Nelson AB, Faulstich M, Moghadam S, Onori K, Meredith A, du Lac S. BK Channels Are Required for Multisensory Plasticity in the Oculomotor System. Neuron. 2017 Jan 04; 93(1):211-220.
  2. Kharkwal G, Brami-Cherrier K, Lizardi-Ortiz JE, Nelson AB, Ramos M, Del Barrio D, Sulzer D, Kreitzer AC, Borrelli E. Parkinsonism Driven by Antipsychotics Originates from Dopaminergic Control of Striatal Cholinergic Interneurons. Neuron. 2016 07 06; 91(1):67-78.
  3. Guterman EL, Yurgionas B, Nelson AB. Pearls & Oy-sters: Episodic ataxia type 2: Case report and review of the literature. Neurology. 2016 06 07; 86(23):e239-41.
  4. Girasole AE, Nelson AB. Bridging the Gap: Muscarinic M4 Receptors Promote Striatal Plasticity in Health and Disease. Neuron. 2015 Nov 18; 88(4):621-3.
  5. Girasole AE, Nelson AB. Probing striatal microcircuitry to understand the functional role of cholinergic interneurons. Mov Disord. 2015 Sep; 30(10):1306-18.
  6. Nelson AB, Bussert TG, Kreitzer AC, Seal RP. Striatal cholinergic neurotransmission requires VGLUT3. J Neurosci. 2014 Jun 25; 34(26):8772-7.
  7. Nelson AB, Hammack N, Yang CF, Shah NM, Seal RP, Kreitzer AC. Striatal cholinergic interneurons Drive GABA release from dopamine terminals. Neuron. 2014 Apr 02; 82(1):63-70.
  8. Nelson AB, Kreitzer AC. Reassessing models of basal ganglia function and dysfunction. Annu Rev Neurosci. 2014; 37:117-35.
  9. Vossel KA, Beagle AJ, Rabinovici GD, Shu H, Lee SE, Naasan G, Hegde M, Cornes SB, Henry ML, Nelson AB, Seeley WW, Geschwind MD, Gorno-Tempini ML, Shih T, Kirsch HE, Garcia PA, Miller BL, Mucke L. Seizures and epileptiform activity in the early stages of Alzheimer disease. JAMA Neurol. 2013 Sep 01; 70(9):1158-66.
  10. Andrews-Zwilling Y, Gillespie AK, Kravitz AV, Nelson AB, Devidze N, Lo I, Yoon SY, Bien-Ly N, Ring K, Zwilling D, Potter GB, Rubenstein JL, Kreitzer AC, Huang Y. Hilar GABAergic interneuron activity controls spatial learning and memory retrieval. PLoS One. 2012; 7(7):e40555.
  11. Nelson AB, Hang GB, Grueter BA, Pascoli V, Luscher C, Malenka RC, Kreitzer AC. A comparison of striatal-dependent behaviors in wild-type and hemizygous Drd1a and Drd2 BAC transgenic mice. J Neurosci. 2012 Jul 04; 32(27):9119-23.
  12. Gittis AH, Nelson AB, Thwin MT, Palop JJ, Kreitzer AC. Distinct roles of GABAergic interneurons in the regulation of striatal output pathways. J Neurosci. 2010 Feb 10; 30(6):2223-34.
  13. Gelfand JM, Nelson AB, Fross RD, Glass GA. Speech-activated myoclonus masquerading as stuttering. Neurology. 2009 Jun 02; 72(22):1964.
  14. Nelson AB, Gittis AH, du Lac S. Decreases in CaMKII activity trigger persistent potentiation of intrinsic excitability in spontaneously firing vestibular nucleus neurons. Neuron. 2005 May 19; 46(4):623-31.
  15. Nelson AB, Krispel CM, Sekirnjak C, du Lac S. Long-lasting increases in intrinsic excitability triggered by inhibition. Neuron. 2003 Oct 30; 40(3):609-20.
  16. Smith MR, Nelson AB, Du Lac S. Regulation of firing response gain by calcium-dependent mechanisms in vestibular nucleus neurons. J Neurophysiol. 2002 Apr; 87(4):2031-42.

Publications are derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and provided by UCSF Profiles, a service of the Clinical & Translational Science Institute (CTSI) at UCSF. Researchers can make corrections and additions to their publications by logging on to UCSF Profiles.