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Neurology Chair

Dane Chetkovich, M.D., Ph.D., Professor and Chairman
of Neurology

Faculty By Divisions

Peter Hedera, M.D., Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Neurology


Dr. Hedera earned his Doctor of Medicine degree at the Medical School of Ian Amos Comenius University in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia (currently the Slovak Republic) in 1987. He graduated cum laude and was awarded the University Presidents Prize of Honor. After graduating, Hedera stayed in Bratislava for a four-year residency in Neurology at University Hospital. In 1991 he relocated to the United States, spending the next three years as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Robert P. Friedland at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. He did an internship at St. Lukes Medical Center in Cleveland from 1994-95, and a residency in Neurology at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, MI, from 1995-98.

Hedera remained at the University of Michigan Medical Center for a one-year postdoctoral fellowship in Neurogenetics, under the mentorship of Dr. John K. Fink; a two-year residency in the division of Medical Genetics, department of Pediatrics; and a year as lecturer in the department of Neurology. Hedera was given the Founder's Award by the American Academy of Neurology at their annual meeting in 1999.

In 2002, he joined Vanderbilt's faculty as Assistant Professor of Neurology. He has since been promoted to Associate Professor. In addition to his clinical, research, and teaching responsibilities Hedera serves as ad hoc reviewer of a number of professional journals, and is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Parkinsonism and Restless Legs.


My research interests are focused on understanding the underlying genetic basis of two major neurological disorders: hereditary spastic paraplegia and essential tremor. The immediate goal is to identify the genes involved and how changes in those genes cause the disorders. The hope is that once that information is known, it can be applied toward treating or curing the disorders.

Hereditary spastic paraplegia is a degenerative disease of the spinal cord that affects people of all ages, impairing the ability to walk. The disease is progressive, and many patients are eventually wheelchair-bound. To learn more about the molecular basis of the disease, I am using the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans. We are looking how the gene-encoded proteins work in the worm and how they function under normal circumstances and in disease.

My work in the area of genetics of essential tremor is focused on elucidation of genetic causes of this debilitating condition. I currently direct several genotyping projects studying the DNA of families affected by essential tremor in an attempt to identify and locate the genes involved. Once the genes are discovered, we will begin the investigation into how they cause epilepsy. We also actively recruiting patients with essential tremor for our ongoing genetic studies.


Articles in refereed journals (selected from 75 publications)
1. Blair MA, Ma S, Hedera P. Mutation in KIF5A can also cause an adult onset hereditary spastic paraplegia. Neurogenetics, 2006;7:47-50.

2. Brewer GJ, Askari F, Lorincz MT, Carlson M, Schilsky M, Kluin KJ, Hedera P, Moretti P, Fink JK, Tankanow R, Dick RB, Sitterly J. Treatment of Wilsons Disease with Ammonium Tetrathiomolybdate: IV. Comparison of Tetrathiomolybdate and Trientine in a Double Blind Study of Treatment of the Neurologic Presentation of Wilsons Disease. Archives of Neurology, 2006;63:521-527

3. Ma S, Blair MA, Abou-Khalil B, Lagrange AH, Gurnett CA, Hedera P. Mutations in the GABRA1 and EFHC1 genes are rare in familial juvenile myoclonic epilepsy. Epilepsy Research, 2006;71:129-134
4. Ma S, Davis TL, Fang JY, Blair MA, Haines JL, Hedera P. Familial essential tremor with apparent autosomal dominant inheritance: Should we also consider other inheritance modes? Movement Disorders 2006; 21:1368-1374

5. Hedera P, Ma S, Blair MA, Taylor KA, Hamati A, Bradford Y, Abou-Khalil B, Haines JL. Identification of a novel locus for febrile seizures and epilepsy on chromosome 21q22. Epilepsia 2006; 47:1622-1628

6. Hedera P. The spastin jigsaw puzzle: Another missing piece found. Neurology 2006;67:1912-1913

7. Zhao X, Hedera P, Fink JK. Systemic isolation and characterization of cDNAs encoding AAA proteins from human brain. Bratislava Medical Journal 2006;107:418-421

8. Abou-Khalil B, Krei L, Lazenby B, Harris PA, Haines JL, Hedera P. Familial genetic predisposition, epilepsy localization and antecedent febrile seizures. Epilepsy Research, 2007;73:104-110

9. Gurnett CA, Hedera P. New ideas in epilepsy genetics: Novel epilepsy genes, copy number alterations, and gene regulation . Archives of Neurology 2007;64:324-328

10. Blair M, Ma S; Abou-Khalil B; Hedera P. Genetic variants in the IMPA2 gene do not confer increased risk of febrile seizures in Caucasian patients . European Journal of Neurology, 2007;14:424-427

11. Hedera P, Blair M, Andermann E, Andermann F, DAgostino D, Taylor K, Chahine L, Pandolfo M, Bradford Y, Haines JL, Abou-Khalil B. Familial mesial temporal lobe epilepsy maps to chromosome 4q 13.2-q21.3. Neurology 2007; 68:2107-2112

12. Blair MA, Riddle ME, Wells JF, Breviu BA, Hedera P. Infantile onset of hereditary spastic paraplegia poorly predicts the genotype. Pediatric Neurology, 2007; 36:382-386

13. Hilton EN, Manson FDC, Urquhart JE, Johnson JJ, Slavotinek AM, Hedera P, Stattin EL, Nordgren A, Biesecker LG, Black GCM. Left-sided embryonic expression of the BCL-6 corepressor, BCOR, is required for vertebrate laterality determination . Human Molecular Genetic, 2007, in press

Book chapters:

Fink, J.K., Hedera P. Neurogenetics Disorders . In Labanowski, M. (ed). Neurology - Pearls of Wisdom. Boston Medical Publishing Corp., pp 230-239, 1999.

Fink, J.K., Hedera, P. Inherited Metabolic Disorders . In Labanowski, M. (ed). Neurology - Pearls of Wisdom. Boston Medical Publishing Corp., pp 219-229, 1999.

Hedera, P., Whitehouse, P.J. Neurochemistry in Neurodegeneration . In: Calne, D.B. (ed). Neurodegenerative Diseases. Philadelphia-London-Toronto-Montreal-Sydney-Tokyo, Saunders Scientific Publications, pp 97-117, 1994.

Whitehouse, P.J., Lerner, A.J., Hedera, P. Dementia . In: Valenstein, E. and Heilman, K (ed). Clinical Neuropsychology, 3rd edition, New York -Oxford, Oxford University Press, pp 603-645, 1994.


Department of Neurology
Vanderbilt University
465 21st Avenue, South
6140 MRB III
Nashville, TN 37232-8552
Phone: 615-936-3920
Fax: 615-322-5517