Torsten Falk, PhD

Torsten Falk, PhD

Associate Professor


University of Arizona
P.O. Box 245023
Department of Neurology
Life Sciences North (#221) Rm 359
Tucson, AZ 85724
(520) 626-3927

Dr. Torsten Falk is an Associate Professor of Neurology and Pharmacology.  He has a background in Molecular Neurobiology, receiving his PhD at the University of Hamburg in Germany, and in Neurophysiology.  Since 2003 Dr. Falk’s research focuses on cellular and rodent models to test novel therapies for Parkinson’s disease (PD) treatment in three areas:  1) Novel pharmacological treatments for L-DOPA-induced dyskinesias (LID), a major side effect of PD treatment.  2) Testing novel neuroprotective (growth factor mediated) approaches for PD.  3) Development of blood-brain barrier penetrant glycopeptide drug candidates for the treatment of PD.  He is the author of over 30 peer-reviewed journal publications, with an h index of 17 (measured 9/25/2022), and over 130 peer-reviewed abstracts and conference presentations.  Dr. Falk holds two patents, and he has advanced one pharmacological treatment for LID to currently ongoing clinical trials.  He is a member of the Society for Neuroscience and of the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.  Dr. Falk is on the Grant Review Committee of the Parkinson’s Foundation.  He has also reviewed for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, the Parkinson’s UK Foundation, the American Parkinson’s Disease Association, the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.  


Ph.D: Institute for Cellular Biochemistry and Clinical Neurobiology, UKE, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

Selected Publications

  • Apostol CR, Bernard K, Tanguturi P, Molnar G, Bartlett MJ, Szabò LZ, Liu C, Ortiz JB, Saber M, Giordano KR, Green TFR, Melvin J, Morrison HW, Madhavan L, Rowe RK, Streicher JM, Heien ML, Falk T, Polt R; Design and Synthesis of Novel Brain Penetrant Glycopeptide Analogues of PACAP with Neuroprotective Potential for Traumatic Brain Injury and Parkinsonism. Frontiers in Drug Discovery 2022, Vol. 1: 818003
  • Pottenger AE, Bartlett MJ, Sherman SJ, Falk T, Morrison HW; Evaluation of Microglia in a rodent model of Parkinson’s disease primed with L-DOPA after sub-anesthetic ketamine treatment. Neuroscience Letters 2021, 765:136251. 
  • Ye T, Bartlett MJ, Sherman SJ, Falk T, Cowen SL; Spectral Signatures of L-DOPA-Induced Dyskinesia Depend on L-DOPA Dose and are Suppressed by Ketamine. Experimental Neurology 2021; 340:113670.
  • Young KF, Gardner R, Sariana V, Bartlett MJ, Falk T, Morrison HW; Can quantifying morphology and TMEM119 expression distinguish between microglia and infiltrating macrophages after ischemic stroke and reperfusion in male and female mice? Journal of Neuroinflammation 2021; 18(1):58.
  • Bartlett MJ, Mabrouk OS, Szabò L, Flores AJ, Parent KL, Bidlack JM, Heien ML, Kennedy RT, Polt R, Sherman SJ, Falk T; The delta-specific opioid glycopeptide BBI-11008: CNS penetration and behavioral analysis in a preclinical model of L-DOPA-induced dyskinesia. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 2020, 22(1), 20; Special Issue: “Peptides for Health Benefits 2020”
  • Bartlett MJ, Flores AJ, Ye T, Smidt SI, Dollish HK, Stancati JA, Farrell DC, Parent KL, Doyle KP, Besselsen DG, Heien ML, Cowen SL, Steece-Collier K, Sherman SJ, Falk T; Preclinical evidence in support of repurposing sub-anesthetic ketamine as a treatment for L-DOPA-induced dyskinesia. Experimental Neurology 2020; 333C:113413.
  • Crown LM, Bartlett MJ, Eby AJ, Monroe EJ, Gies K, Wiegand JP, Wohlford L, Fell MJ, Falk T, Cowen SL; Sleep spindles and fragmented sleep as prodromal markers in LRRK2 G2019S Parkinson’s disease. Frontiers in Neurology 2020; 11:324; doi: 10.3389/fneur.2020.00324
  • Bartlett MJ, So LY, Szabò L, Skinner DP, Parent KL, Heien ML, Vanderah TW, Polt R, Sherman SJ, Falk T; Highly-selective m-opioid receptor antagonism does not block L-DOPA-induced dyskinesia in a rodent model. BMC Research Notes 2020; 13:149.
  • Hay M, Polt R, Heien ML, Vanderah TW, Largent-Milnes TM, Rodgers K, Falk T, Bartlett MJ, Doyle KP, Konhilas JP; A Novel Angiotensin-(1-7)-glycosylated Mas Receptor Agonist for Treating Vascular Cognitive Impairment and Inflammation Related Memory Dysfunction. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 2019; 369:9-25.
  • Ye T, Bartlett MJ, Schmitt MB, Sherman SJ, Falk T, Cowen SL; Ten-Hour Exposure to Ketamine Enhances Corticostriatal Cross-Frequency Coupling and Broad-Band Gamma Oscillations in the Hippocampus. Frontiers in Neural Circuits 2018; 12:61. doi: 10.3389/fncir.2018.00061.
  • Flores AJ, Bartlett MJ, Root BK, Parent KL, Heien ML, Porreca F, Polt R, Sherman SJ, Falk T; The combination of the opioid glycopeptide MMP-2200 and a NMDA receptor antagonist reduced L-DOPA-induced dyskinesia and MMP-2200 by itself reduced dopamine receptor 2-like agonist-induced dyskinesia. Neuropharmacology 2018, 141:260-271.
  • Caballero B, Sherman SJ, Falk T; Insights into mechanism of the protective effects of VEGF-B in dopaminergic neurons.  Parkinson’s Disease 2017; vol. 2017, Article ID 4263795, 13 pages, 2017. doi:10.1155/2017/4263795.
  • Sherman SJ, Estevez M, Magill AR, Falk T; Case reports showing a long-term effect of subanesthetic ketamine infusion in reducing L-DOPA-induced dyskinesias. Case Reports in Neurology 2016; 8:53-58.
  • Bartlett MJ, Joseph RM, LePoidevin LM, Parent KL, Laude ND, Lazarus LB, Heien ML, Estevez M, Sherman SJ, Falk T; Long-term effect of sub-anesthetic ketamine-infusion in reducing L-DOPA-induced dyskinesia. Neuroscience Letters 2016; 612:121-125.
  • Flores AJ, Bartlett MJ, So LY, Laude ND, Parent KL, Heien ML, Sherman SJ, Falk T; Differential effects of the NMDA receptor antagonist MK-801 on dopamine 1 and 2 receptor-induced abnormal involuntary movements in a preclinical model. Neuroscience Letters 2014; 564: 48-52. [PubMed]
  • Yue X, Hariri DJ, Caballero B, Zhang S, Bartlett MJ, Kaut O, Mount DW, Wüllner U, Sherman SJ, Falk T; Comparative study of neurotrophic effects by VEGF-B and GDNF in preclinical in vivo models of Parkinson’s disease. Neuroscience 2014; 258:385–400. [PubMed]
  • Mabrouk OS, Falk T, Sherman SJ, Kennedy RT, Polt R; Brain uptake of the opioid glycopeptide MMP-2200 – a microdialysis study.  Neuroscience Letters 2012; 531(2):99-103. [PubMed]
  • Falk T, Congrove NR, Zhang S, McCourt AD, Sherman SJ, McKay BS; PEDF and VEGF-A output from human retinal pigment epithelium cells grown on novel microcarriers. Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology 2012; Article ID 278932, 8 pages. [PubMed]
  • Yue X, Falk T, Zuniga LA, Szabo L, Porreca F, Polt R, Sherman SJ; Effects of the opioid agonist MMP-2200 in preclinical models of Parkinson’s disease. Brain Research 2011; 1413:72-83. [PubMed]
  • Falk T, Yue X, Zhang S, McCourt AD, Yee BJ, Gonzalez RT, Sherman SJ; Vascular endothelial growth factor B is neuroprotective in an in vivo model of Parkinson’s disease. Neuroscience Letters 2011; 496:43-47. [PubMed]
  • Falk T, Zhang S, Sherman SJ; Vascular endothelial growth factor B is up-regulated and exogenous VEGF-B is neuroprotective in a culture model of Parkinson’s disease. Molecular Neurodegeneration 2009; 4:49. [PubMed]
  • Falk T, Zhang S, Sherman SJ; PEDF is neurotrophic and neuroprotective in two in vitro models of Parkinson's disease. Neuroscience Letters 2009; 458:49-52. [PubMed]
  • Falk T, Xie JY, Zhang S, Kennedy J, Bennett J, Sherman SJ; Over-expression of the potassium channel Kir2.3 using the dopamine-1 receptor promoter selectively inhibits striatal neurons. Neuroscience 2008; 155:114-127. [PubMed]
  • McKay BS, Goodman B, Falk T, Sherman SJ; Retinal pigment epithelial cell transplantation could provide trophic support in Parkinson's disease: results from an in vitro model system. Experimental Neurology 2006; 201:234-243. [PubMed]
  • Falk T, Zhang S, Erbe EL, Sherman SJ; Neurochemical and electrophysiological characteristics of rat striatal neurons in primary culture. Journal of Comparative Neurology 2006; 494:275-289. [PubMed]
  • Falk T, Kilani RK, Borders RS, Strazdas LA, Steidl JV, Yool AJ, Sherman SJ; Developmental regulation of the A-current in hippocampal neurons: Role of the Kvb1.1 potassium channel subunit. Neuroscience 2003; 120(2):387-404. [PubMed]
  • Falk T, Kilani RK, Yool AJ, Sherman SJ; Viral-vector mediated expression of K+ channels regulates excitability in skeletal muscle. Gene Therapy 2001; 8(18):1372-1379. [PubMed]
  • Falk T, Garver WS, Erickson RP, Wilson JM, Yool AJ; Expression of Niemann-Pick type C transcript in rodent cerebellum in vivo and in vitro. Brain Research 1999; 839(1):49-57. [PubMed]
  • Falk T, Meyerhof W, Corrette BJ, Schaefer J, Bauer CK, Schwarz JR, Richter D; Cloning, functional expression and mRNA distribution of an inwardly rectifying potassium channel protein. FEBS Letters 1995; 367:127-131. [PubMed]