Associate Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School
Director, Partners Dystonia Clinic, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Nutan Sharma combines clinical expertise in movement disorders with research into the genetics and pathophysiology of dystonia. As founder and director of the dystonia clinic at MGH, Sharma conducts systematic clinical evaluation of patients in a longitudinal study of the natural history of dystonia. She collaborates with MIND geneticists to identify new dystonia-causing genes, by collecting families with dystonia for careful clinical characterization and DNA analysis. To facilitate laboratory studies of dystonia mechanisms, Sharma acquires clinical samples, including skin biopsies and blood, that can be turned into cells lines suitable for basic research and for screening new drugs. Other research in the dystonia clinic includes studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging of patients to evaluate how brain networks are impacted in those with focal dystonia and childhood-onset dystonia. Sharma also directs the Collaborative Center for X-linked Dystonia-Parkinsonism (XDP) at MGH. XDP is an extremely rare genetic disease affecting men of Filipino descent. Because XDP has features of both dystonia and Parkinson’s disease, the hope it s that studying it will give insights into both of these more common conditions. At the XDP center, Sharma coordinates an international research effort aimed at the identification and enrollment of patients with XDP and their families. Patient-derived samples provide DNA for genetic studies, and generation of blood- and skin-derived cells lines, as well as induced pluripotent stem cell lines to enable laboratory research at MGH and at other institutions throughout the world. Dr. Sharma’s goal is to identify the genes responsible for XDP, to better understand its causes and develop possible treatments.
Nutan Sharma received an AB from Stanford University, and her MD and PHD from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She competed a Neurology residency at Yale University, and a fellowship in movement disorders with Brad Hyman at MGH. She became an instructor in Neurology at Harvard medical School in 2001, attaining the rank of Associate Professor in 2011. She is an associate neurologist at MGH, with additional appointments at Boston Children’s, Brigham and Women’s and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. In 2001, Dr. Sharma established the first Dystonia Clinic for comprehensive care of patients with dystonia at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She is also director of the Collaborative Center for the study of X-linked Dystonia-Parkinsonism (XDP), which funds research and medical care for those with XDP. In 2005, the International Movement Disorders Society honored Dr. Sharma for Excellence in Basic Science.