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Healthcare Providers

Craig M. McDonald, MD

Healthcare Provider
Professor and Chair
Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Professor of Pediatrics
Director MDA Neuromuscular Disease Clinics
UC Davis Health
4860 Y St., Suite 1700
Sacramento, California, United States

Dr. McDonald is an internationally recognized expert in the clinical management and rehabilitation of neuromuscular diseases including muscular dystrophies and the development of novel outcome measures for clinical trials. He also is widely known for his expertise in the management and assessment of children and young adults with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Dr. McDonald currently serves as Director and Principal Investigator of the UC Davis NINDS-funded site in the NeuroNEXT Neurosciences Clinical Trials National Consortium (one of two NeuroNEXT sites in California along with UCLA). As a Pediatric Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (PM&R) physician board-certified in Neuromuscular Medicine, he is the only PM&R physician in the country to serve as a PI of one of the 25 NIH-funded NeuroNEXT sites. He is also Director of the UC Davis NIDILRR-funded Rehabilitation Research and Training Center in Neuromuscular Diseases. He also serves as Chair of PM&R and is Professor of Pediatrics and PM&R at the University of California Davis Health System and School of Medicine.

Dr. McDonald is the Director of Rehabilitation Services and former Director of the Spina Bifida and Pediatric Spinal Cord Injury programs at Shriners Hospital for Children Northern California. He is the Principal Investigator of the NINDS NeuroNEXT grant which supports a site at the University of California Davis in Sacramento. Dr. McDonald’s research has focused on novel clinical endpoint development in neuromuscular diseases, and he has conducted natural history studies in muscular dystrophies using novel outcomes measures developed for clinical trials. He leads the international CINRG Duchenne Natural History Study which has made seminal contributions to the elucidation of the natural history of DMD validation of the clinical endpoints now used in clinical trials of DMD throughout the world, the development of novel endpoints to assess more severely affected patients with DMD who are non-ambulatory, identification of genetic modifiers which affect DMD disease progression, and application of proteomics to identify novel candidate biomarkers for Duchenne clinical trials.

Most importantly, Dr. McDonald’s work has contributed to the development of precision based therapeutics for DMD and the first two approved therapies targeting the underlying cause of DMD—dystrophin gene abnormalities leading to absence of the sarcolemmal-associated muscle protein dystrophin. These therapies have been recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—in the case of eteplirsen) and European Medicines Agency (EMA)—in the case of ataluran). He served as an expert for Biomarin, Sarepta, and PTC Therapeutics at the first three FDA Advisory Committee meetings held for DMD therapeutics. Dr. McDonald has over 150 peer-reviewed publications. He has been a recipient of over $25 million in federal grant and industry support over the past 15 years. Throughout his career, Dr. McDonald has been involved in a multitude of NIH, MDA, CDC and Shriners hospitals national committees and serves as a consultant to pharmaceutical industry regarding clinical trials in DMD and other muscular dystrophies. He has also been on many NIH study sections reviewing research proposals relating to neuromuscular diseases and rehabilitation sciences. Dr. McDonald holds an MD from the University of Washington School of Medicine and an AB from Stanford University. He holds subspecialty certifications in pediatric rehabilitation medicine and neuromuscular medicine.


Representative Publications:

Why short stature is beneficial in Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Developing standardized corticosteroid treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Idebenone reduces respiratory complications in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy