The University of Pennsylvania Huntington’s Disease Center is recognized as a Center of Excellence by the Huntington’s Disease Society of America. Located in the heart of Philadelphia, it is the only Center of Excellence in the tristate area. We provide individualized, multi-disciplinary, family-centered care for families living with HD.
Directed by Aaron Lasker, MD, the staff includes psychiatrists, genetic counselors, social workers, therapists, and a full-time coordinator dedicated to treating and assisting patients with Huntington’s disease as well as their families. Our team engages in ongoing collaborative research with several organizations, clinics, and laboratories.
Click HERE to learn more about how you can help our center fight Huntington's disease.
Brief History of the Center
The HD Center is housed within the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center (PDMDC). The PDMDC was founded at the late, great Graduate Hospital in 1982 by Drs. Howard Hurtig and Matthew Stern and Nurse Gwyn Vernon as a center to provide comprehensive care and education to patients and families, and to conduct basic and clinical research in collaboration with basic scientists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (now the Perelman SOM).
After 15 years of steady and expanded growth of its fundamental mission, the PDMDC moved in 1997 to the Penn Neurological Institute at Pennsylvania Hospital, where patient services and program development accelerated to achieve its current status as one of the premier facilities of its kind in the US. During those initial decades, patients affected by HD received excellent care at the PDMDC, and Drs. Hurtig and Stern were active members of the growing HD clinical and academic community...
The UPenn Huntington's Disease Center is now a Level One HDSA Center of Excellence!
HDSA Centers of Excellence (CoE) provide comprehensive multidisciplinary clinical services to families affected by HD, including opportunities to participate in clinical research. Level One is the highest certification a CoE can achieve, and is awarded to sites that can demonstrate a high degree of geographic diversity, unique patient programs or offerings that add to the HD clinic, and a spirit of HD community citizenship, including collaboration between HDSA (both nationally and with local volunteer leadership) and the HD CoE staff. Level One HDSA CoE's have established a formal partnership with another HD clinic, collaborating and sharing resources, including expert neurologists, genetic counseling, and social workers experienced with HD, to expand geographic access to specialized HD care. UPenn's CoE is one of only seven Level One centers in the country, and the only one in the Northeast.
Nivedita Thakur, MD is the Medical Director of the Movement Disorder Program, pediatric neurologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and an Associate Professor of Clinical Neurology, Perelman School of Medicine, at the University of Pennsylvania. She has joined the UPenn HDSA Center of Excellence to provide an additional level of expertise and care for our patients with Juvenile-onset HD during their HD clinic visits.
We are pleased to announce Aaron Lasker, MD as the Medical Director of the Huntington's Disease HDSA Center of Excellence at Pennsylvania Hospital. Dr. Pedro Gonzalez-Alegre, prior Director of the HD Center, has transitioned to a new career path outside of Penn Medicine. Dr. Aaron Lasker joined the HD Center team officially in July 2021 and has been seeing HD patients in clinic actively since then, which has helped make for a smooth transition for our patients.
Philly Cure HD Makes Donation to HD Center
Thursday, March 9, 2023
In December 2022, the HD Care Team at the Huntington’s Disease Center at Pennsylvania Hospital was delighted to receive a generous donation toward special patient programming in the Center from Philly Cure HD. Philly cure HD is a local organization offering support to HD families in the local Huntington’s Disease community, by educating the greater community about HD, and by supporting HD research. We are deeply grateful for the on-going collaboration between the HD Center at Pennsylvania Hospital and Philly Cure HD.
HD and the COVID-19 Vaccine
***The FDA authorized COVID-19 vaccines for use in children ages six months and older, and boosters for everyone five years and older, if eligible.***
Everyone 18 and older has been eligible since Nov. 19, 2021 to receive a booster, six months after getting a second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two months after a Johnson & Johnson shot.
COVID vaccines and HD, in a nutshell: If you are offered a vaccine by your health care provider, or are now eligible for boosters, we recommend that you receive the vaccine and booster(s) as offered unless there is a reason you should avoid that vaccine, such as an allergy to an ingredient (click here for more information). Inform your vaccination provider about all your allergies and health conditions.
Our HD Center Makes Headlines!
Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Our medical students' experiences with the HD Center were featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer!
- On-Line Virtual Video Support Group/Webinar
HDSA Research Webinar: Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc. Discusses New Treatment for Chorea Associated with Huntington’s Disease
Join HDSA for a research webinar in which Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc. will discuss their new medication recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of chorea associated with HD in adults.
To help address as many questions as possible, Neurocrine Biosciences is asking that registrants submit questions in advance. The Q&A will only include questions that are pre-submitted and only questions submitted by Sunday, November 5 will be considered.