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Huntington's Disease

Center of Excellence

UC San Diego Health’s Huntington’s disease (HD) program is designated a Center of Excellence by the Huntington’s Disease Society of America . Under the direction of Jody Corey-Bloom, MD, PhD, our clinical research program was among the first west of the Mississippi to receive this honor in 2000.

About Huntington's Disease

Huntington's disease (HD) is a genetic, degenerative brain disorder that causes uncontrolled movements, loss of ability to think and reason, and severe emotional disturbances. People with HD eventually become dependent on others for their care.

Age of Onset

The onset of HD typically strikes individuals during their most productive adult years, between the ages of 30 and 50, but may appear as early as the age of 2 or as late as age 70. Even within a single family, the onset age of symptoms and the type of symptoms at onset may vary from one person to another.

More than a quarter-million Americans are at risk of inheriting HD from an affected parent. An individual who inherits the gene mutation will develop the disease. HD does not skip generations. It affects all races and ethnic groups and both sexes. Each child of an HD-affected parent has a 50 percent chance of inheriting the disorder.

The HD gene was isolated in 1993. Since then, research continues to accelerate our understanding of the disease. UC San Diego Health connects people to active clinical trials, studying ways to treat HD with medications and to assess disease progression.

Characteristics and Symptoms of Huntington's Disease

  • Personality changes, depression, anxiety, irritable or aggressive behavior, apathy, hallucinations, delusions or mood swings
  • Unsteady gait, dance-like movements, rigidity, abnormal eye movements, problems with balance and coordination
  • Slurred and/or slowed speech or difficulty swallowing
  • Slowed thinking and reaction time, difficulty planning and organizing, inflexible thinking, poor decision making skills or problems with short-term memory
  • Intoxicated appearance due to a combination of the above symptoms


Neuropalliative Care
Our team at UC San Diego Health uses a comprehensive, whole-person approach that addresses not only a person's medical issues, but also their emotional, spiritual and social needs.

San Diego Chapter of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America
Provides local support to individuals affected by HD and their families, raises public awareness, and funds research towards a cure.

Huntington's Disease Society of America
The national voluntary health organization for HD. Provides resources, advocacy and funding for a cure.

Hereditary Disease Foundation 
Aims to cure genetic illnesses by supporting basic biomedical research.