Research Interests

Dr. Nakamura’s research focuses on the normal functioning of mitochondria—the “power centers” of cells—which convert nutrients into energy. He also studies how disrupting mitochondria contributes to the development of neurodegenerative diseases, especially Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. In his laboratory, they have two broad, intertwined objectives. The first is to gain insight into the normal physiology of mitochondria in the brain, particularly the functions of mitochondrial bioenergetics and dynamics at the nerve terminal and the mechanisms by which they support synaptic transmission. The second is to understand how disrupting these mitochondrial functions contributes to neurodegenerative diseases, especially Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, and to use these insights to develop new approaches to target mitochondria therapeutically.


Dr. Nakamura has won numerous awards, including the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award for Medical Scientists, the Larry L. Hillblom Foundation Fellowship, and the University of Chicago’s Steven Lukes Memorial Prize for excellence in the fields of internal medicine and neurology. A board-certified neurologist, Dr. Nakamura maintains a clinical practice treating patients with Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders. He is a member of the American Academy of Neurology, the Movement Disorder Society, and the Society for Neuroscience.


Dr. Nakamura earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and biological sciences from Cornell University, and an MD and PhD in neurobiology from the University of Chicago. He completed his residency and chief residency at UCSF, and subspecialty training in movement disorders at UCSF and the San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center. He also completed a UCSF research fellowship investigating the role of a small protein (alpha-synuclein) in the development of Parkinson’s disease.

Why Gladstone

I came to Gladstone because of the opportunity to work with innovative and talented scientists and staff, fully committed to advancing our understanding and treatment of neurodegenerative disease. I greatly value the cohesive, stimulating, and driven atmosphere, where cutting-edge basic science is applied to the development of new therapies.