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

a4?2* Nicotinic Cholinergic Receptor Target Engagement in Parkinson Disease Gait-Balance Disorders.
Albin RL, Müller MLTM, Bohnen NI, Spino C, Sarter M, Koeppe RA, Szpara A, Kim K, Lustig C, Dauer WT, Ann Neurol 2021 Jul 90 1 130-142
CNS critical periods: implications for dystonia and other neurodevelopmental disorders.
Li J, Kim S, Pappas SS, Dauer WT, JCI Insight 2021 Feb 6 4
TorsinB overexpression prevents abnormal twisting in DYT1 dystonia mouse models.
Li J, Liang CC, Pappas SS, Dauer WT, Elife 2020 03 9
Cholinergic interneurons drive maladaptive changes in thalamostriatal circuitry after dopamine depletion.
Li J, Dauer W, Mov. Disord. 2019 05 34 5 682
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
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

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