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  Home > About Lab Medicine & Pathology > Faculty and Staff > Harry T. Orr, Ph.D.

Harry T. Orr, Ph.D.

Harry Orr
Contact Information

Phone: 612-625-3647
Fax: 612-626-7031




2101 6th Street SE
Delivery Code 1241
Wallin Medical Biosciences Building
Minneapolis, MN 55455


Research Interests

Dr. Orr's research program is focused on the molecular genetics of mammalian development and neurodegenerative diseases. He and his colleagues recently cloned the gene for an autosomal dominant form of spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA 1). They showed that the disease is due to expansion of an unstable trinucleotide repeat (CAG) within the SCA 1 gene, which they have mapped to the short arm of human chromosome. They are examining the role of the SCA 1 gene in normal CNS function and how this mutation disrupts this function. The investigators will be working with protein biochemists to characterize the normal and abnormal SCA 1 protein.  In October 2009, Dr. Orr received an NIH Recovery Act grant for his SCA1 work.

Educational Background

  • Oakland University, Rochester, MI (1971), B.A. (Biology)
  • Washington University, St. Louis, MO (1976), Ph.D. (Neurobiology)
  • Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (1980), Research Fellowship (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology)

Professional Background

  • Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota Medical School, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, 1980 - 1984
  • Associate Professor, University of Minnesota Medical School, Department Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, 1984 - 1989
  • Professor of Pathology, University of Minnesota Medical School, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, 1989 - present
  • Member, University of Minnesota, Institute of Human Genetics, 1984 - present
  • Professor, University of Minnesota, Biochemistry, 1994 - present
  • Director, University of Minnesota, Institute of Human Genetics, 1998 - 2007
  • Directory, University of Minnesota, Institute for Translational Neuroscience, 2007 - present

Professional Honors

  • 2006: Elected, Member of the University of Minnesota Academic Health Sciences Academy of Excellence, 2006
  • 2013-2016: Elected Council Delegate, Section on Neuroscience, American Association for Advancement of Science, .
  • 2004 & 2011: NIH Javits Investigator Award, National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke 
  • 2013 Elected Council Delegate, Section on Neuroscience, AAAS
    Finalist – GSK Discovery Fast Track 

Professional Memberships

  • 2005-2007 NIH/NINDS, Member Udall Parkinson Center Working Group
  • 2005-2010 NIH/DRG Member CDIN Study Section (Chair, 2007-2009)

Community and University Service

  • 2002 - 2006: Member and Chair (04 - 06), Scientific Review Committee, ALS Association
  • 2005 - 2007: Member, NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke Expert Advisory
  • 2008 - 2010: Panel for Evaluation of Udall Parkinson Disease Centers
  • 2008 - 2009: Member and Chair (08-09), NIH Cell Death in Neurodegeneration Study Section
  • 2005 - 2007: Member, NIH Cell Death in Neurodegeneration Study Section, 
  • 2008 - 2009: Member, NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke Expert Advisory Panel for Disease Research
  • 6/2010: Opportunity Five Themes Neuroscience, Mental Diseases, and Aging (RC4)
  • 2009-2012: Member, Telethon (Italy) Foundation Scientific Review Committee
  • 2014-2018: Member, NIH/CSR Council
  • 2014: Co-chair Basic Science Section, NIH/NINDS, Parkinson’s Disease: Advancing Research
    Working Group
  • 2012: Member Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) Board on Health Sciences Policy, -.
    Member and Chair, NIH/NINDS, Distinguished Stage 2 Editor for RFA-0D-10-005 Directors 


  • Serra, H.G., Duvick, L., Zu, T., Carlson, K., Stevens, S., Jorgensen, N., Lysholm, A., Burright, E., Zoghbi, H.Y., Clark, H.B., Andresen, J.M., and Orr, H.T. (2006) ROR-mediated Purkinje cell development determines disease severity in adult SCA1 mice. Cell 127: 697-708.
  • Zu, T, Duvick, L.A., Kaytor, M.D., Berlinger, M., Zoghbi, H.Y.,Clark, H.B. and Orr, H.T. (2004)
    recovery from polyglutamine-Induced neurodegeneration in conditional SCA1 transgenic mice. J.
    Neurosci. 24: 8853– 8861.
  • 8. Lim, J., Crespo-Barreto, J., Jafar-Nejad, P., Bowman, A.B., Richman, R., Hill, D.E., Orr, H.T. and Zoghbi, H.Y. (2008) Opposing effects of polyglutamine expansion on native protein complexes contribute to SCA1, Nature 452: 713-719. PMCID: PMC2377396
  • Öz, G., Nelson, C.D., Koski, D.M., Henry, P.-G., Marjanska, M., Deelchand, D.K., Shanley, R., Eberly, L.E., Orr, H.T., Clark, H.B. (2010) Noninvasive detection of pre-symptomatic and progressive neurodegeneration in a mouse model of spinocerebellar ataxia type 1. J. Neurosci. 30: 3831-3838. PMCID: PMC2846771
  • Duvick, L., Barnes,J., Ebner, B., Agrawal, S., Andresen, M., Lim, J., Giesler, G.J., Zoghbi, H.Y., and Orr. H.T. (2010) SCA1-like disease in mice expressing wild type ataxin-1 with a serine to aspartic acid replacement at residue 776. Neuron 67: 929-935. PMCID: PMC2946945
  • Barnes, J., Ebner, B.A., Duvick, L.A., Gao, W., Chen, G., Orr, H.T., and Ebner, T.J. (2011) Abnormalities in the climbing fiber-purkinje cell circuitry contribute to neuronal dysfunction in ATXN1[82Q] mice. J. Neuroscience 31:12778-12789. PMCID: PMC3178465
  • Lai, S., O’Callaghan, B., Zoghbi, H.Y., and Orr, H.T. (2011) 14-3-3 binding to ataxin-1(ATXN1) regulates its dephosphorylation at S776 and transport to the nucleus. J. Biol. Chem. 286: 34606-34616. PMCID: PMC3186404
  • Ebner, B.A., Barnes, J., Duvick, L.A., Frisch, J.L., Zoghbi, H.Y., Ebner , T.J., and Orr, H.T. (2013) Purkinje Cell Ataxin-1 Modulates Climbing Fiber Synaptic Input in Developing and Adult Mouse Cerebellum, J. Neuroscience 33:5806-5820. PMCID: PMC3633086
  • Park, J., Al-Ramahi, I., Tan, Q., Mollema, N. Diaz-Garcia, J.R., Gallego-Flores, T., Kang, H., Lagalwar, S., Duvick, L., Lu, H.-C., Lee, Y., Jafar-Nejad, P., Sayegh, L.S., Richman, R., Liu, X., Gao, Y., Shaw, C.A., Arthur, J.C.S., Orr, H.T. Westbrook, T.F., Botas, J., and Zoghbi, H.Y. (2013) RAS-MAPK-MSK1 pathway modulates ataxin-1 protein levels and toxicity in SCA1. Nature 498:325-331.

For a complete list of Dr. Orr's publications, please see the National Library of Medicine's PubMed Search.

Invited Lectures



  • Honorary Professorship, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan, China


  • Research Seminar, Graduate Program in Neuroscience, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL.
  • Research Seminar, McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD.


  • Hope Center Lecture, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO
  • Ramsey Lecture, Iowa State University, Ames, IA
  • Research Seminar, Department of Neurology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.


  • Keynote Lecture, CAG Triplet Repeat Gordon Conference, Waterville, NH
  • Research Seminar, Gladstone Institute for Neurodegeneration/UCSF (Graduate student/postdoc invitee), San Francisco, CA
  • Invited Speaker, Changhwa Christian Hospital, Changhwa, Taiwan




  • Invited Speaker, Presidential Symposium, Chicago Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience
  • Invited Speaker. UC San Diego


  • Invited Speaker, Inauguration Symposium – UCLA Integrated Neurogenetics Center
  • Invited Lecturer, TreatPolyQ Summer School on Polyglutamine Disorders 2013, Ajacco, Corsica


  • Invited Speaker, 4th Xiangya International Conference of the Clinical and Basic Research on Spinocerebellar Ataxias, Changsha, China.
  • Invited Speaker, 7th International Conference on Unstable Microsatellites and Human Disease, Ste. Odile, France
  • Invited Speaker, Gordon Research Conference, Neurobiology of Brain Disorders, Stonehill College in Easton, Mass


  • Opening Lecture, 5th Molecular Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration Meeting, Milan, Italy.


  • Invited Speaker, Ataxia Investigator Meeting, Chicago, IL.
  • Invited Speaker, IPSEN Meeting, “Cancer/Neurodegeneration - Two Faces of Evil”, Paris.
  • Invited Speaker, Neuroscience Day, Brain Foundation, Chicago, IL.
  • Invited Speaker, American College NeuroPhyscopharmacology Annual Meeting Minisymposium “Developmental Etiologies of Degenerative Disorders”, Miami, FL.


  • Invited Speaker, 6th International Meeting- Unstable Microsatellites and Disease, Liberia, Costa Rica
  • Invited Speaker, Middle East Medical Assembly, Beirut, Lebanon
  • Invited Speaker, EUROSCA Symposium – Towards Treatment of SCA, Tubingen, Germany
  • Invited Speaker, Society for Research on the Cerebellum 2nd Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL
  • Invited Speaker, Symposium "The Therapeutic Perspectives of Neurodegenerative Disorders," celebrating 50th year anniversary of Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan 

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