Science & Technology

Parkinson’s Disease research led by UWF professor

A University of West Florida research team, led by associate professor Dr. Youngil Lee, recently conducted a study regarding Parkinson’s Disease in the Usha Kundu, M.D. College of Health Department of Exercise Science and Community Health.

The UWF team’s research demonstrates in animal models how regular endurance exercise regenerates dopaminergic neurons destroyed by Parkinson’s Disease, thus reversing motor impairment. Their findings were recently published in two scientific journals, Life Science and Neuroscience.

“I am pleased to share my work and show that we can do advanced biomedical research on the level of an R1 institution here in our lab at UWF,” Lee said. “It is rewarding to know the ongoing research we are conducting can help find endurance exercise-mediated therapeutic strategies for individuals with neurodegenerative diseases, as well as heart diseases and metabolic disorders.” He also said “People should consider endurance exercise as a key intervention because it is a relatively side effect-free intervention and has polypill-like effects (e.g., multiple synergistic benefits).”

Lee, who joined UWF in 2012 and established the Molecular and Cellular Exercise Physiology Laboratory, leads the research team, which includes professors Dr. Ludmila M. Cosio-Lima and Dr. Scott Taylor, along with Dr. Yongchul Jang, Dr. Insu Kwon and Wankeun Song.

“Our population is getting older and, as a department, we are increasingly looking at how to address issues such as Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease,” said Dr. Debra Vinci, chair of the Department of Exercise Science and Community Health. “The cutting edge research that Dr. Lee is doing provides the mechanisms in place to understand the benefits of physical exercise at the molecular and cellular level. Having this work published in two highly regarded scientific journals is a real plus for us at UWF.”

For more information about the UWF Department of Exercise Science and Community Health, visit