About the Wellstone Center

The National Institutes of Health awarded UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers a $7.8 million grant in late 2015 to establish a Senator Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Center, one of six nationally. 

The Centers of Excellence program in muscular dystrophy research was established by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2003, in honor of the late Senator Paul D. Wellstone of Minnesota. Established as part of the NIH enhancement and intensification of muscular dystrophy research associated with the MD-CARE Act, the centers are supported by five-year, renewable grants.

Collectively, the Wellstone MDCRCs are engaged in research on various forms of muscular dystrophy. Designed to accelerate progress toward effective treatments for muscular dystrophies through increased synergistic collaboration and coordination of research activities, they promote side-by-side basic, translational, and clinical research. Each center coordinates efforts to help bring together investigators at multiple sites.

The UT Southwestern Center focuses on Duchenne muscular dystrophy, an inherited form of muscular dystrophy that is characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. It usually presents itself in boys age 3 to 5 and often leads to death by the early 30s. The disorder is caused by a mutation in the gene dystrophin, or DMD, which creates the protein dystrophin that helps keep muscle cells intact.

Eric Olson, Ph.D., Chair of Molecular Biology and Director of the Hamon Center for Regenerative Science and Medicine, co-directs the UT Southwestern Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Center with Pradeep Mammen, M.D., Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Medical Director of UT Southwestern’s Neuromuscular Cardiomyopathy Clinic.