Leslie M. Thompson, PhD, is a Donald Bren and Chancellor’s Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Human Behavior and Neurobiology and Behavior at the University of California Irvine. Dr. Thompson has studied Huntington’s disease (HD) for most of her scientific career and was a member of the international consortium that identified the causative gene for HD in 1993. She also co-identified the mutation causing achondroplasia, the most common genetic form of short-limbed dwarfism in 1994. Since that time, the Thompson laboratory has been actively engaged in investigating the fundamental molecular and cellular events that underlie how the mutant HD gene causes degeneration of specific brain cell populations to induce motor and cognitive decline and premature death of patients with the ultimate goal to develop new therapeutic approaches, including stem-cell based treatments. The laboratory also focuses on understanding causal mechanisms that underlie HD and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and more recently X-linked Dystonia-Parkinsonism with the goal of developing treatments for the disease. The research benefits from the integrated use of patient iPSCs and mouse models of disease together with the studies of RNA biology, protein homeostasis and network-based bioinformatics. Dr. Thompson is a member of the Hereditary Disease Foundation HD Cure Committee, HD CARE Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), Packard Center, Chair of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America SAB and is founding Co-Editor in Chief of the Journal of Huntington’s Disease. She is the PI of the OMICS core of the Answer ALS program, which is a precision medicine approach to understand sporadic ALS in over 1000 ALS subjects.
She is co-director of the Center for Precision Health and Precision Health through Artificial Intelligence at UCI, which seeks to improve health and advance treatments through AI and data driven technologies.