Studying Communication and Swallowing Disorders in the Ciucci Lab

The research program of Michelle R. Ciucci, PhD., CCC-SLP  is dedicated to understanding how aging and neurodegenerative disease contribute to communication and swallowing disorders. Specifically, Parkinson disease has a complex pathology that causes early-onset voice and swallowing deficits, but the mechanisms are virtually unknown. These gaps in knowledge significantly limit treatment options for these patients. With the goal of developing better treatments, the Ciucci laboratory uses a variety of behavioral and molecular techniques in neurotoxin and genetic murine models of Parkinson disease. This robust approach allows them to directly relate dysfunction in voice and swallowing behaviors to central and peripheral nervous system pathology for a deeper understanding of the disease process. Currently, they are refining behavioral and pharmacologic treatments for translation to clinical trials.

Dr. Ciucci also practices clinical science. In collaboration with others in the division, her lab is evaluating voice samples and high-resolution pressure data to describe normal and dysfunctional communication and swallowing in humans. The Ciucci lab is translational: novel ideas tested in the lab are having a direct impact in how speech pathologists and others help individuals with Parkinson’s disease.

Professor Ciucci has authored over 45 peer-reviewed published scientific journal articles, 8 book chapters, and has given numerous invited national and international talks on her research and clinical experience. She has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (F32, R01, P30, T32), the Howard Hughes Medical Foundation, American Speech Language Hearing Foundation, and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s research.

The Ciucci lab welcomes highly motivated undergraduate, graduate, and medical students with diverse interests in speech language pathology, otolaryngology, animal behavior, and cellular and molecular neuroscience.

Research in the Department of Surgery

Research in the Department of Surgery includes active clinical trials, the Wisconsin Surgical Outcomes Research Program, basic science labs, and more. Follow us on Twitter to hear about the latest research breakthroughs!