Louis Ptacek, MD

Department of Neurology
+1 415 514-9305
Research Description: 

Episodic phenomena (epilepsy, migraine, and cardiac arrhythmias) are among the most common disorders afflicting humans. Early in his career, Ptácek began studying patients with rare Mendelian muscle disorders (periodic paralysis) and proposed these as a model of more common episodic disorders. In 1990, he began systematically characterizing genes causing familial forms of periodic paralysis. This series of landmark discoveries identified mutant ion channel genes and laid the groundwork for the field now called the "channelopathies." He proposed that all the work in channelopathies of skeletal muscle would be model for episodic disorders of heart and brain. Subsequently, his group and others have identified homologous genes that (when mutated) cause cardiac arrhythmias, epilepsy, and migraine. He has gone from describing new syndromes to cloning causative genes, to biological study in vitro and in vivo (animal models).

More recently, Ptácek led the team that characterized the first Mendelian variant in human circadian function. He and his colleague Ying-Hui Fu have gone on to clone and characterize numerous genes causing this phenotype. This work has led to novel insights into human circadian biology.

Ptácek is an HHMI Investigator, and an associate editor of The Journal of Clinical Investigation and Neurogenetics. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Academy of Science.

Primary Thematic Area: 
Human Genetics
Secondary Thematic Area: 
Research Summary: 
Genetics and biology of human nervous system disorders

Developing the field of neurogenetics.


Müller U, Auburger G, Graeber MB, Ptacek LJ

Sleep and Mood: Chicken or Egg?

Biological psychiatry

Ptáoek LJ, Fu YH, Krystal AD

Impact of Sleep and Circadian Disruption on Energy Balance and Diabetes: A Summary of Workshop Discussions.


Arble DM, Bass J, Behn CD, Butler MP, Challet E, Czeisler C, Depner CM, Elmquist J, Franken P, Grandner MA, Hanlon EC, Keene AC, Joyner MJ, Karatsoreos I, Kern PA, Klein S, Morris CJ, Pack AI, Panda S, Ptacek LJ, Punjabi NM, Sassone-Corsi P, Scheer FA, Saxena R, Seaquest ER, Thimgan MS, Van Cauter E, Wright KP

Protein mutated in paroxysmal dyskinesia interacts with the active zone protein RIM and suppresses synaptic vesicle exocytosis.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Shen Y, Ge WP, Li Y, Hirano A, Lee HY, Rohlmann A, Missler M, Tsien RW, Jan LY, Fu YH, Ptácek LJ