Ken Nakamura, MD, PhD


Dr. Ken Nakamura is a neurologist who specializes in diagnosing and treating patients with Parkinson's disease at the Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Clinic. He also runs a research laboratory at the Gladstone Institutes, where he investigates how disruptions of mitochondria — the "power centers" of cells that convert nutrients into energy — contribute to the development and progression of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.

Nakamura earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry and biological sciences from Cornell University, and a medical degree and Ph.D in neurobiology from the University of Chicago. His thesis work focused on the role of oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease. Nakamura then completed an internship in internal medicine and a residency in neurology at UCSF, as well as a clinical fellowship in movement disorders at UCSF and the San Francisco VA Medical Center. He also completed a research fellowship at UCSF.

Nakamura has received several awards, including a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award for Medical Scientists.


Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Clinic
400 Parnassus Ave., Eighth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94143
Phone: (415) 353-2273
Fax: (415) 353-2898

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

More about Ken Nakamura


University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine 2001


UCSF Medical Center 2005


UCSF Medical Center

Selected Research and Publications

  1. Haddad D, Nakamura K. Understanding the susceptibility of dopamine neurons to mitochondrial stressors in Parkinson's disease. FEBS Lett. 2015 Dec 21; 589(24 Pt A):3702-13.
  2. Pathak D, Shields LY, Mendelsohn BA, Haddad D, Lin W, Gerencser AA, Kim H, Brand MD, Edwards RH, Nakamura K. The role of mitochondrially derived ATP in synaptic vesicle recycling. J Biol Chem. 2015 Sep 11; 290(37):22325-36.
  3. Shields LY, Kim H, Zhu L, Haddad D, Berthet A, Pathak D, Lam M, Ponnusamy R, Diaz-Ramirez LG, Gill TM, Sesaki H, Mucke L, Nakamura K. Dynamin-related protein 1 is required for normal mitochondrial bioenergetic and synaptic function in CA1 hippocampal neurons. Cell Death Dis. 2015 Apr 16; 6:e1725.
  4. Berthet A, Margolis EB, Zhang J, Hsieh I, Zhang J, Hnasko TS, Ahmad J, Edwards RH, Sesaki H, Huang EJ, Nakamura K. Loss of mitochondrial fission depletes axonal mitochondria in midbrain dopamine neurons. J Neurosci. 2014 Oct 22; 34(43):14304-17.
  5. Skibinski G, Nakamura K, Cookson MR, Finkbeiner S. Mutant LRRK2 toxicity in neurons depends on LRRK2 levels and synuclein but not kinase activity or inclusion bodies. J Neurosci. 2014 Jan 08; 34(2):418-33.
  6. Ho L, Titus AS, Banerjee KK, George S, Lin W, Deota S, Saha AK, Nakamura K, Gut P, Verdin E, Kolthur-Seetharam U. SIRT4 regulates ATP homeostasis and mediates a retrograde signaling via AMPK. Aging (Albany NY). 2013 Nov; 5(11):835-49.
  7. Pathak D, Berthet A, Nakamura K. Energy failure: does it contribute to neurodegeneration? Ann Neurol. 2013 Oct; 74(4):506-16.
  8. Manzanillo PS, Ayres JS, Watson RO, Collins AC, Souza G, Rae CS, Schneider DS, Nakamura K, Shiloh MU, Cox JS. The ubiquitin ligase parkin mediates resistance to intracellular pathogens. Nature. 2013 Sep 26; 501(7468):512-6.
  9. Hertz NT, Berthet A, Sos ML, Thorn KS, Burlingame AL, Nakamura K, Shokat KM. A neo-substrate that amplifies catalytic activity of parkinson's-disease-related kinase PINK1. Cell. 2013 Aug 15; 154(4):737-47.
  10. Nakamura K. a-Synuclein and mitochondria: partners in crime? Neurotherapeutics. 2013 Jul; 10(3):391-9.
  11. Yoshida S, Tsutsumi S, Muhlebach G, Sourbier C, Lee MJ, Lee S, Vartholomaiou E, Tatokoro M, Beebe K, Miyajima N, Mohney RP, Chen Y, Hasumi H, Xu W, Fukushima H, Nakamura K, Koga F, Kihara K, Trepel J, Picard D, Neckers L. Molecular chaperone TRAP1 regulates a metabolic switch between mitochondrial respiration and aerobic glycolysis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Apr 23; 110(17):E1604-12.
  12. Itoh K, Nakamura K, Iijima M, Sesaki H. Mitochondrial dynamics in neurodegeneration. Trends Cell Biol. 2013 Feb; 23(2):64-71.
  13. Nakamura K, Nemani VM, Azarbal F, Skibinski G, Levy JM, Egami K, Munishkina L, Zhang J, Gardner B, Wakabayashi J, Sesaki H, Cheng Y, Finkbeiner S, Nussbaum RL, Masliah E, Edwards RH. Direct membrane association drives mitochondrial fission by the Parkinson disease-associated protein alpha-synuclein. J Biol Chem. 2011 Jun 10; 286(23):20710-26.
  14. Nemani VM, Lu W, Berge V, Nakamura K, Onoa B, Lee MK, Chaudhry FA, Nicoll RA, Edwards RH. Increased expression of alpha-synuclein reduces neurotransmitter release by inhibiting synaptic vesicle reclustering after endocytosis. Neuron. 2010 Jan 14; 65(1):66-79.
  15. Fortin DL, Nemani VM, Nakamura K, Edwards RH. The behavior of alpha-synuclein in neurons. Mov Disord. 2010; 25 Suppl 1:S21-6.
  16. Nakamura K, Nemani VM, Wallender EK, Kaehlcke K, Ott M, Edwards RH. Optical reporters for the conformation of alpha-synuclein reveal a specific interaction with mitochondria. J Neurosci. 2008 Nov 19; 28(47):12305-17.
  17. Nakamura K, Christine CW, Starr PA, Marks WJ. Effects of unilateral subthalamic and pallidal deep brain stimulation on fine motor functions in Parkinson's disease. Mov Disord. 2007 Apr 15; 22(5):619-26.
  18. Nakamura K, Aminoff MJ. Huntington's disease: clinical characteristics, pathogenesis and therapies. Drugs Today (Barc). 2007 Feb; 43(2):97-116.
  19. Nakamura K Kang UJ. Textbook of neural repair and rehabilitation (eds Selzer ME, Cohen L, Gage FH, Clarke S and Duncan PW). Trophic factor delivery by gene therapy. 2006; 532-547.
  20. Fortin DL, Troyer MD, Nakamura K, Kubo S, Anthony MD, Edwards RH. Lipid rafts mediate the synaptic localization of alpha-synuclein. J Neurosci. 2004 Jul 28; 24(30):6715-23.

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.