Anatol Kreitzer, PhD

Associate Investigator

Phone: (415) 734-2507
Fax: (415) 355-0824
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Associate Professor of Physiology and Neurology, University of California, San Francisco

Administrative Assistant

Amy Cheung
(415) 734-2506

More about Dr. Kreitzer

Dr. Kreitzer’s research focuses on the disordered physiological processes associated with Parkinson’s disease. He is an expert in the emerging field of optogenetics—the application of genetic and optical techniques to remotely control brain cells in animals.

Using optogenetics, Dr. Kreitzer has identified key neural circuits that are disrupted in Parkinson’s disease. He has also discovered brain circuitry that restores normal behavior in mice modified to model Parkinson’s disease. In addition, he uses sophisticated electrical-recording techniques to probe brain activity at a cellular level. These methods led to seminal discoveries linking changes in motor behavior in Parkinson’s disease with the inability of specific brain cells to be modified.

Dr. Kreitzer serves as a regular reviewer for prominent scientific journals, including Nature, Neuron, Nature Neuroscience and Journal of Neuroscience, and is on the scientific advisory board of Circuit Therapeutics. In 2011, he was honored with the Young Investigator Award from the Society of Neuroscience. 

Dr. Kreitzer earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1996 and his PhD in neurobiology at Harvard University in 2001. He conducted postdoctoral research in the Nancy Pritzker Laboratory at Stanford University with Dr. Robert Malenka until 2007, when he established his laboratory at Gladstone.


More scientific details, please

Other Professional Titles

Associate Professor of Physiology and Neurology, University of California, San Francisco

Administrative Assistant

Amy Cheung
(415) 734-2506

Areas of Investigation

Our laboratory is focused on understanding the mechanisms that control cellular, synaptic and circuit function in the basal ganglia of the brain, especially those that control motor planning, learning, and movement. Our long-term goal is to understand how neural activity and plasticity in these circuits shapes motor behavior and how neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease (PD) and dystonia affect synaptic, cellular and circuit function in the basal ganglia.

The control of movement is among the most fundamental functions of the nervous system. The basal ganglia, and the striatum in particular, play a critical role in the selection and learning of appropriate actions. Individuals suffering from movement disorders such as PD or dystonia have profound difficulties performing appropriate movements, yet the relation between aberrant neural activity and motor problems is not well understood. A thorough knowledge of the mechanisms underlying circuit function in the basal ganglia, both in health and disease, will provide a framework that can be used to develop novel treatments for neurological disorders.

Current Lab Focus

  • What is the functional role of neural activity in direct and indirect pathway medium-spiny neurons (MSNs) found in the basal ganglia?
  • How do striatal microcircuits function to shape direct and indirect pathway output?
  • What role does dopamine play in striatal microcircuit function?
  • How does loss of dopamine impact basal ganglia circuit function?
  • How do dopamine and other neuromodulators modulate synaptic plasticity in the striatum?
  • How can we restore basal ganglia circuit function in the absence of dopamine, such as during PD?

Joined Gladstone


Why Gladstone?

Gladstone provides an unparalleled environment for conducting disease-related research.

Key Achievements

  • Developed the capability to directly activate basal ganglia circuitry in vivo, using optogenetic control of direct- and indirect-pathway MSNs.
  • Established a critical role for basal ganglia circuitry in the bidirectional regulation of motor behavior and reinforcement learning.
  • Identified novel therapeutic targets for the amelioration of parkinsonian symptoms.


University of California, Berkeley (BA, highest distinction in general scholarship)
Harvard University (PhD)
Stanford University


Member, Society for Neuroscience
Member, International Basal Ganglia Society
Circuit Therapeutics, Scientific Advisory Board


  • Pew Scholar in Biomedical Sciences (2008)
  • McKnight Scholar Award (2010)
  • IACM Award for Young Researchers (2011)
  • Society for Neuroscience Young Investigator Award (2011)
Syndicate publications

Featured Publications

Anatol Kreitzer, PhDKravitz AV, Tye LD, Kreitzer AC. Distinct roles for direct and indirect pathway striatal neurons in reinforcement. Nat Neurosci. 2012 Apr 29. View in: PubMed
Anatol Kreitzer, PhDLerner TN, Kreitzer AC. RGS4 Is Required for Dopaminergic Control of Striatal LTD and Susceptibility to Parkinsonian Motor Deficits. Neuron. 2012 Jan 26; 73(2):347-59. View in: PubMed