Michelle Ciucci, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, and her research efforts were recently featured by the UW Department of Surgery. Her research program is dedicated to understanding how aging and neurodegenerative disease contribute to communication and swallowing disorders. Specifically, Parkinson disease has a complex pathology that causes early-onset voice and swallowing deficits, but the mechanisms are virtually unknown. These gaps in knowledge significantly limit treatment options for these patients. With the goal of developing better treatments, the Ciucci laboratory uses a variety of behavioral and molecular techniques in neurotoxin and genetic murine models of Parkinson disease. This robust approach allows them to directly relate dysfunction in voice and swallowing behaviors to central and peripheral nervous system pathology for a deeper understanding of the disease process. Currently, they are refining behavioral and pharmacologic treatments for translation to clinical trials. Further, Dr. Ciucci practices clinical science. In collaboration with others in the division, they are evaluating voice samples and high-resolution pressure data to describe normal and dysfunctional communication and swallowing in humans. The Ciucci lab is truly translational; novel ideas tested in the lab are having a direct impact in how speech pathologists and others help individuals with Parkinson’s disease.
Professor Ciucci has authored over 45 peer-reviewed published scientific journal articles, 8 book chapters, and has given numerous invited national and international talks on her research and clinical experience. She has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (F32, R01, P30, T32), the Howard Hughes Medical Foundation, American Speech Language Hearing Foundation, and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s research.
The Ciucci lab welcomes highly motivated undergraduate, graduate, and medical students with diverse interests in speech language pathology, otolaryngology, animal behavior, and cellular and molecular neuroscience.