William T. Dauer, M.D., is the inaugural Director of the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute and a Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience at UT Southwestern Medical Center. A neurologist acclaimed for his research into dystonia and Parkinson’s disease, he holds the Lois C.A. and Darwin E. Smith Distinguished Chair in Neurological Mobility Research.

Dr. Dauer earned his medical degree at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. After completing an internship at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, he became a neurology resident and fellow in movement disorders at Columbia University. He pursued postdoctoral work in the Columbia laboratory of René Hen, Ph.D., where he studied the resistance of alpha-synuclein null mice to a toxin that can provoke Parkinson’s in humans.

For nearly two decades, Dr. Dauer’s groundbreaking research has been focused on the molecular basis of dystonia and the mechanisms of neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease. His findings have elucidated the critical role of the torsinA protein in the progression of dystonia, which is marked by disabling, involuntary movements. Studies taking place under his direction focused on the neurobiologic basis of falls in Parkinson’s disease are being used to pioneer a novel therapy for this currently untreatable symptom.

Prior to joining the UT Southwestern faculty in 2019, Dr. Dauer served as Director of the Movement Disorders Group and Director of the Morris K. Udall Center of Excellence for Parkinson’s Disease Research at the University of Michigan, where he was also a Professor of Neurology and Cell and Developmental Biology.

He is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, and his work has been recognized with the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation’s Fahn Award and the Harold and Golden Lamport Award for excellence in clinical science research from Columbia University.


Medical School
Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis (1990)
Massachusetts General Hospitlal--Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Neuroscience (1992)
Beth Isreal Hospital (1993)
Columbia University (Department of Neurology) (1996)
Columbia University, Movement Disorder Fellow (1997)
Columbia University, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Neuroscience (2001)

Research Interest

  • Basal Ganglia
  • Dystonia
  • Genetics of human disease
  • Mechanisms underlying selective susceptibility of cells to disease
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Pathogenesis of diseases of the motor system


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

Cholinergic interneurons drive maladaptive changes in thalamostriatal circuitry after dopamine depletion.
Li J, Dauer W, Mov. Disord. 2019 05 34 5 682
Postnatal Development of Mice with Combined Genetic Depletions of Lamin A/C, Emerin and Lamina-associated Polypeptide 1.
Wang Y, Shin JY, Nakanishi K, Homma S, Kim GJ, Tanji K, Joseph LC, Morrow JP, Stewart CL, Dauer WT, Worman HJ, Hum. Mol. Genet. 2019 Apr
Cholinergic system changes of falls and freezing of gait in Parkinson's disease.
Bohnen NI, Kanel P, Zhou Z, Koeppe RA, Frey KA, Dauer WT, Albin RL, Müller MLTM, Ann. Neurol. 2019 Apr 85 4 538-549
Regional vesicular acetylcholine transporter distribution in human brain: A [18 F]fluoroethoxybenzovesamicol positron emission tomography study.
Albin RL, Bohnen NI, Muller MLTM, Dauer WT, Sarter M, Frey KA, Koeppe RA, J. Comp. Neurol. 2018 Dec 526 17 2884-2897
Targeting the pedunculopontine nucleus in Parkinson's disease: Time to go back to the drawing board.
Albin RL, Surmeier DJ, Tubert C, Sarter M, Müller MLTM, Bohnen NI, Dauer WT, Mov. Disord. 2018 12 33 12 1871-1875
A cell autonomous torsinA requirement for cholinergic neuron survival and motor control.
Pappas SS, Li J, LeWitt TM, Kim JK, Monani UR, Dauer WT, Elife 2018 08 7
Model-based and Model-free Machine Learning Techniques for Diagnostic Prediction and Classification of Clinical Outcomes in Parkinson's Disease.
Gao C, Sun H, Wang T, Tang M, Bohnen NI, Müller MLTM, Herman T, Giladi N, Kalinin A, Spino C, Dauer W, Hausdorff JM, Dinov ID Sci Rep 2018 May 8 1 7129
A motif within the armadillo repeat of Parkinson's-linked LRRK2 interacts with FADD to hijack the extrinsic death pathway.
Antoniou N, Vlachakis D, Memou A, Leandrou E, Valkimadi PE, Melachroinou K, Re DB, Przedborski S, Dauer WT, Stefanis L, Rideout HJ, Sci Rep 2018 Feb 8 1 3455
TorsinA dysfunction causes persistent neuronal nuclear pore defects.
Pappas SS, Liang CC, Kim S, Rivera CO, Dauer WT, Hum. Mol. Genet. 2018 02 27 3 407-420
The DYT6 Dystonia Protein THAP1 Regulates Myelination within the Oligodendrocyte Lineage.
Yellajoshyula D, Liang CC, Pappas SS, Penati S, Yang A, Mecano R, Kumaran R, Jou S, Cookson MR, Dauer WT, Dev. Cell 2017 07 42 1 52-67.e4

Honors & Awards

  • Board of Scientific Counselors, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
  • Chair, Chronic Dysfunction and Integrative Neurodegeneration ("CDIN") Study Section
  • Elected to the American Society of Clinical Investigation
  • Elected to American Neurological Association
  • Fahn Award
    Dystonia Medical Research Foundation, for excellence in dystonia research; first recipient (2006)
  • Young Investigator Scholarship, Pediatric Neurotransmitter Disease Association
  • Danziger Fellow in Movement Disorders, Parkinson's Disease Foundation

Professional Associations/Affiliations

  • American Society of Clinical Investigation (2009)
  • American Neurological Association (2008)
  • American Society for Cell Biology (2004)
  • Society for Neuroscience (1998)
  • Movement Disorders Society (1996)
  • American Academy of Neurology (1994)