William Dauer, M.D.

William Dauer, M.D.

Peter O'Donnell Jr. Brain Institute

  • Lois C.A. and Darwin E. Smith Distinguished Chair in Neurological Mobility Research
  • Neurology


William T. Dauer, M.D., is the inaugural Director of the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute and a Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience at UT Southwestern Medical Center. A neurologist acclaimed for his research into dystonia and Parkinson’s disease, he holds the Lois C.A. and Darwin E. Smith Distinguished Chair in Neurological Mobility Research.

Dr. Dauer earned his medical degree at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. After completing an internship at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, he became a neurology resident and fellow in movement disorders at Columbia University. He pursued postdoctoral work in the Columbia laboratory of René Hen, Ph.D., where he studied the resistance of alpha-synuclein null mice to a toxin that can provoke Parkinson’s in humans.

For nearly two decades, Dr. Dauer’s groundbreaking research has been focused on the molecular basis of dystonia and the mechanisms of neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease. His findings have elucidated the critical role of the torsinA protein in the progression of dystonia, which is marked by disabling, involuntary movements. Studies taking place under his direction focused on the neurobiologic basis of falls in Parkinson’s disease are being used to pioneer a novel therapy for this currently untreatable symptom.

Prior to joining the UT Southwestern faculty in 2019, Dr. Dauer served as Director of the Movement Disorders Group and Director of the Morris K. Udall Center of Excellence for Parkinson’s Disease Research at the University of Michigan, where he was also a Professor of Neurology and Cell and Developmental Biology.

He is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, and his work has been recognized with the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation’s Fahn Award and the Harold and Golden Lamport Award for excellence in clinical science research from Columbia University.

Education & Training
  • Medical School - Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis (1986-1990)
  • Fellowship - Massachusetts General Hospitlal--Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Neuroscience (1990-1992)
  • Residency - Columbia University (Department of Neurology) (1993-1996)
  • Fellowship - Columbia University, Movement Disorder Fellow (1996-1997)
  • Fellowship - Columbia University, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Neuroscience (1997-2001)
  • Internship - Beth Isreal Hospital (1992-1993)
Professional Associations & Affiliations
  • American Academy of Neurology (1994)
  • Movement Disorders Society (1996)
  • Society for Neuroscience (1998)
  • American Society for Cell Biology (2004)
  • American Neurological Association (2008)
  • American Society of Clinical Investigation (2009)
Honors & Awards
  • Board of Scientific Counselors, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) 2018-2023
  • Elected to the American Society of Clinical Investigation 2009
  • Chair, Chronic Dysfunction and Integrative Neurodegeneration ("CDIN") Study Section 2014-2016
  • Elected to American Neurological Association 2008
  • Fahn Award 2006, Dystonia Medical Research Foundation, for excellence in dystonia research; first recipient
  • Young Investigator Scholarship, Pediatric Neurotransmitter Disease Association 2002
  • Danziger Fellow in Movement Disorders, Parkinson's Disease Foundation 1997
Books & Publications
  • Pathogenesis of diseases of the motor system
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Mechanisms underlying selective susceptibility of cells to disease
  • Genetics of human disease
  • Dystonia
  • Basal Ganglia