Centers of Excellence

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) established centers of excellence for muscular dystrophy research through Congressional Acts passed in the years 2001 and 2008. The NIH currently funds six Senator Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Centers (MDCRCs). The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) was one of the three centers nationwide designated as a MDCRC from 2003-2008. We have received additional support from 2008-2013.

The goals of MDCRCs are to establish research programs focused on major questions about muscular dystrophy. MDCRCs are designed to centralize the expertise, infrastructure and resources needed to conduct innovative, cross-disciplinary and multi-institutional research programs with state-of-the-art technologies. They serve to expand the resources available to investigators and to physicians diagnosing and treating people with muscle diseases and contribute to the training of new researchers for the muscular dystrophy field.

MDCRCs promote parallel research in three main areas:

  • Basic research or studies that explore the cellular or “mechanisms’ of how muscular dystrophies develop and progress. For example, studies in the laboratory to measure muscle cells or to screen new drugs.
  • Translational research to study how discoveries or drugs tested in laboratory test tubes and other research models “translate” or compare to the effects of these drugs in human studies.
  • Clinical research to study drugs, devices, or other treatments in human subjects and to determine if these therapies are safe and beneficial to patients.

Strengths of the University of Rochester Medical Center MDCRC

  • Comprised of world-renowned investigators and research professionals in the URMC Department of Neurology
  • Linked to the NIH supported Clinical and Translational Science Institute at URMC – one of the first nationwide centers of excellence in translational research, designed to bring new preventive interventions, diagnostic procedures and treatments to patients and communities faster than ever before;
  • Dedicated and well-characterized patients with myotonic dystrophy (DM) and patients with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) who are eager to support research and to participate in clinical studies through a NIH sponsored National Registry.


Richard T. Moxley III, MD


Charles A. Thornton, MD

Executive Committee

Richard T. Moxley III, MD
Charles A. Thornton, MD
Maurice Swanson, PhD
Rabi Tawil, MD
Hugh Higgins

Contact Information

Tracy Forrester
University of Rochester Medical Center
601 Elmwood Ave, Box 673
Rochester, NY 14642
Phone: 585-275-7434

Last updated 5/18/2009