Anatol Kreitzer’s lab is focused on understanding diseases of the basal ganglia, a brain region that controls motivation, action selection, and the automation of behavior. They are interested in how disruptions of specific cell types and circuits in the basal ganglia cause problems generating or maintaining normal motor behavior, as relevant to Parkinson’s disease, dyskinesia (involuntary movement), Tourette syndrome, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. In particular, the team uses optogenetics—the application of genetic and optical techniques to remotely control and monitor brain cells in animals—to investigate the disordered physiological processes underlying these diseases.

Disease Areas

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Parkinson’s Disease
Tourette Syndrome

Areas of Expertise

Working in the Kreitzer lab

Lab Focus

Understanding the functional role of neural activity in direct and indirect pathway circuitry of the basal ganglia.
Investigating the role of dopamine and other neuromodulators in striatal microcircuit function and basal ganglia circuit function.
Discovering approaches to restore basal ganglia circuit function in disease through cell-type-specific neuromodulation.

Research Impact

Kreitzer's lab has made important advances in understanding the brain circuitry that goes awry in Parkinson’s disease and dyskinesia. Using optogenetics, the team established how activating specific types of cells in the basal ganglia could either mimic or reverse symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Kreitzer’s group further mapped how this circuitry can influence walking, through connections with a part of the brain called the mesencephalic locomotor region. Using high-resolution recording techniques, the lab also identified specific biochemical signaling pathways in these cells that are altered in mouse models of Parkinson’s disease and dyskinesia, and identified how changes in the structure and activity of these cells can lead to unwanted decreases or increases in movement.


Professional Titles

Senior Investigator, Gladstone Institutes

Professor of Physiology and Neurology, UC San Francisco

Program Director, Neuroscience Graduate Program, UC San Francisco


Anatol Kreitzer, PhD, is a senior investigator at Gladstone Institutes. In addition, he is a professor of physiology and neurology at UC San Francisco.

Kreitzer earned a bachelor’s degree at UC Berkeley, and a PhD in neurobiology at Harvard University. He conducted postdoctoral research in the Nancy Pritzker Laboratory at Stanford University with Robert Malenka until 2007, when he established his own lab at Gladstone. Kreitzer has directed the UCSF Neuroscience Graduate Program since 2016. He is also on the scientific advisory board of Alvarado Therapeutics and Inscopix.

How Did You Get Your Start in Science?

“The brain has always fascinated me. Can we understand how a group of cells connects together to generate emotions, thoughts, and consciousness?”

Anatol Kreitzer, PhD

Honors and Awards

2011 IACM Award for Young Researchers, International Association for Cannabis as Medicine

2011 Young Investigator Award, Society for Neuroscience

2010 McKnight Scholar Award, McKnight Foundation

2008 Pew Scholar in Biomedical Sciences, The Pew Charitable Trusts


More Publications


Anatol Kreitzer

Lab Members