Irene Litvan 

Irene Litvan 

Tasch Endowed Professor


Contact Information

8950 Villa La Jolla Drive
Suite C112
La Jolla, CA 92037

Phone: 858-822-5871
Fax: 858-822-5743

Mailing Address:
9500 Gilman Drive, MC 0948
La Jolla, CA 92093-0948

Dr. Litvan is a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, member of the American Neurological Association and is an internationally recognized expert in movement disorders and dementia. She earned her MD from the Universidad de la Republica Oriental del Uruguay in Montevideo, Uruguay. After completion of her degree, she had a double residency in neurology, first at the Hospital de la Sta Creu i St Pau in Barcelona, Spain, and afterwards at Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, DC, where she was also a chief resident.

Dr. Litvan completed a clinical fellowship in neuropsychology, and a research fellowship in Dementia at the Hospital de la Sta Creu i St Pau, Barcelona, Spain. She competed a Dementia and Movement Disorders Research Fellowship at the Experimental Therapeutics Branch, NINDS in Bethesda, MD, as well as one year of Psychiatry at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Washington, DC.

Dr. Litvan was a Senior Staff Fellow in Neuroepidemiology, at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), NIH, from 1992 to 1997.

In 1997 Dr. Litvan became Chief of the Cognitive Neuropharmacology Unit, Defense and Veteran Head Injury Program, at the Henry M. Jackson Foundation in Rockville, MD. In 2000 she became Chief of the Cognitive Neuropharmacology Unit at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, MD. Simultaneously, she began consulting for the Experimental Therapeutics Branch of the NINDS, NIH. In 2002, she accepted a position as Director of the Division of Movement Disorders at the University of Louisville, KY, and Lebby Endowed Professor in Parkinson Disease and Research. There she developed the only National Parkinson Foundation Center of Excellence in Parkinson Disease in Kentucky. 

In 2011, she joined the Department of Neurosciences at the University of California San Diego to direct the Movement Disorders Program and become the Tasch Endowed Professor in Parkinson Disease Research. 

Dr. Litvan’s area of clinical expertise is movement disorders. Under her leadership, the University of Louisville was designated as a National Parkinson Foundation (NPF) Center of Excellence. Through an NIH R01 grant, the research team is elucidating the genetic and environmental risk factors for the development of progressive supranuclear palsy, an atypical parkinsonian disorder that shares clinical and pathologic features with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. This project has a strong basic science component that includes research on tau and other susceptibility genes, metabolic toxins, and mediators of inflammation.

Dr. Litvan leads a multidisciplinary group of clinical researchers at 14 universities across the country and expects that these project findings will translate into innovative therapeutic approaches such as the development of novel therapies to slow disease progression.

Dr. Litvan’s research searches for a better understanding of the causes and extent of disabilities, as well as the development of appropriate symptomatic and neuroprotective treatments for patients with neurodegenerative disorders who present with parkinsonism or dementia symptoms. The goals of her research have been: 1) to increase the understanding of the causes of movement disorders by identifying environmental and genetic risk factors associated with their development and progression; 2) to improve understanding of associated non-motor symptoms (i.e., cognitive and psychiatric); and 3) to refine and develop symptomatic therapies for challenging disturbances (i.e., postural instability and behavioral disturbances) and discover novel biologic interventions to slow or stop disease progression. She has also worked on understanding barriers to access healthcare and Research in underserved areas of Louisville, KY. The scope of her research is translational in its nature.

Dr. Litvan has published several large group (consortium) papers which detail the clinical-pathological characterization of neurodegenerative disorders for which she was awarded the National Institutes of Health Merit Award. She is recognized as an expert in the field of atypical parkinsonism, including progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), multisystem atrophies (MSA), dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), as well as non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. She has produced seminal work related to clinical, clinicopathological, and experimental therapeutic studies related to tauopathies including PSP, CDB, FTD and related disorders. Further, she has led international teams in defining the clinical criteria and diagnostic characterization of these diseases.

Dr. Litvan is the founder and CEO of the Litvan Neurological Research Foundation (501c), whose mission is to increase awareness, determine the cause/s and search for a cure for neurodegenerative disorders presenting with either parkinsonian or dementia symptoms.

Dr. Litvan has published over 145 scientific research articles in refereed journals. Many of these articles appear in top-rate journals such as Neurology, Brain, Annals of Neurology, Movement Disorders and Lancet Neurology. She has edited four books and has written multiple review articles and chapters.

Dr. Litvan is a member of the Neurological, Aging and Musculoskeletal Epidemiology (NAME) Study Section at the National Institutes of Health. She serves and has served on many boards and committees. She is currently the chair of the MDS Pan American Section Education Committee, secretary of the World Federation of Neurology (WFN) Research Group on Dementia and member of the educational committee of the WFN Research Group on Movement Disorders, scientific liaison of the American Academy of Neurology Movement Disorder Executive Committees. She is also member of the medical scientific boards of CurePSP, PSP Europe Association and the Association for Frontotemporal Dementias.

Dr. Litvan is invited as a speaker nationally and internationally. She lectures at universities, the American Academy of Neurology, Movement Disorder Society and other International Meetings. She is an ad-hoc reviewer in multiple professional journals including New England Journal of Medicine, Neurology, Brain, Movement Disorders. She has been co-editor of Moving Along, the Movement Disorder Society Newsletter.

2010 Outstanding Community Outreach and Support Award (PSCKY)
2008-2011 Business First Most Influential Healthcare Business Leaders in Great Louisville
2008 Louisville Magazine Innovative Doctor Award
2008 Mosaic Award for Best International Professional
2007 Time and Motion Award Parkinson Support Center of Kentuckiana
2006 Parkinson Support Center of Kentuckiana Recognition Award
2000 Society for PSP Recognition Award
1996 National Institutes of Health Merit Award