PIA Executive Committee:
Atypical Alzheimer's Disease
Chair: Melissa Murray, PhD
Melissa E. Murray, Ph.D., is a translational neuropathologist in the Department of Neuroscience at Mayo Clinic in Florida. Dr. Murray holds the academic rank of Assistant Professor of Neuroscience in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. Her research focuses on investigating the heterogeneity of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Dr. Murray uses a multi-disciplinary approach to uncover neurobiologic differences underlying atypical and typical neuropathologic subtypes of AD and the relevance to clinical presentations observed antemortem. She received an R01 from the National Institute of Aging and an Alzheimer’s Association Research Grant to continue to pursue her research on atypical AD. Dr. Murray has published more than 140 scientific papers with the bulk of her studies centered on identifying the clinicopathologic characteristics and neuroimaging biomarkers of AD and related disorders. She currently serves as Chair for the International Society to Advance Alzheimer's Research and Treatment’s Atypical Alzheimer's disease Professional Interest Area group.
In recognition of her work, Dr. Murray has received numerous awards and honors, including the Health Care Hero Award conferred by the Jacksonville Business Journal in 2013. This journal also listed Dr. Murray as one of the Top 40 under 40 in Jacksonville in 2014. She was selected as one of the top five early career investigators in AD by the Charleston Conference on Alzheimer’s disease and given the distinction as the International Franz Nissl Young Investigator in Neuropathology granted by the International Society of Neuropathology, with both awards conferred in 2014. For her work in multi-disciplinary studies in neuropathology and neuroimaging, she was awarded the early career investigator de Leon Prize in Neuroimaging by the Alzheimer’s Imaging Consortium in 2016. Recently, she was named on the “The Power List” by The Pathologist journal.
Vice Chair: Femke Bouwman, MD, PhD
Femke Bouwman MD PhD, received her MD at Erasmus University Rotterdam The Netherlands in 1998. She completed her specialist registrar neurology training in The Hague in 2005 and subsequently worked on her thesis at the VUmc Alzheimer Center in Amsterdam. In 2008, she defended her thesis ‘CSF biomarkers in dementia: Longitudinal aspects and combination with MRI’. She was a general neurologist and staff member of the memory clinic in Catharina Hospital Eindhoven from 2008-2012 and has been working as Neurologist and staff member of Alzheimer Center VUMC in Amsterdam from 2012 till now. She has a special interest and (inter)national expertise in the clinical application of AD biomarkers. She reinforced her dedication to biomarkers by initiating projects that aim to yield new AD biomarkers: IREAD (imaging the retina for early diagnosis of AD) and PAGE AD (pathological substrate of clinical variability in AD). She is otherwise involved in many other projects in the Alzheimer Center involving Subjective Cognitive Decline, application of AD biomarkers in clinical practice (ABIDE) and other biomarker research including amyloid PET imaging, tau PET imaging and CSF biomarkers. She is initiator of the National Memory clinic Network in the Netherlands. She is member of the Scientific Panel Dementia and Cognitive Disorders of the EAN (European Acadamy of Neurology) and involved in several international projects on Amyloid imaging in dementia.
Communications Chair: Victoria Pelak, MD
Dr. Pelak is a Professor of Neurology and Ophthalmology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine (UCSOM) just outside of Denver, Colorado. She is a Neurologist with a dual subspecialty in Neuro-ophthalmology and Behavioral Neurology, and she previously served as the Co-Director of the Clinical Core at the UCSOM’s Rocky Mountain Alzheimer’s Disease Center. Her research is focused on the investigation of cortical visual processing, with a particular interest in the effects of aging and dementia on visual motion processing. She is exploring new methods to diagnose and track cortical visual dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) – including both typical and atypical presentations such as Posterior Cortical Atrophy – and other dementias due to Parkinson’s disease dementia and Lewy Body Dementia. Recent studies from her Brain and Vision Laboratory have demonstrated that visual processing deficits (as detected by novel, virtual tasks developed by her research team) may be readily detectable in the early, predementia stages of AD; this may have implications for predicting progression from healthy aging to AD or Lewy Body Dementia. Additional ongoing investigations include studies of the effects of testosterone, in a healthy aging cohort, on cognition and visual motion/object/spatial processing. Methods of assessment used in her research includepsychophysical testing using immersive virtual reality technology in her Brain and Vision Laboratory and functional MRI techniques at the UCSOM Brain Imaging Center. Dr. Pelak is the Principal Investigator of the Lewy Body Dementia Research Center of Excellence at the University of Colorado. She provides patient care to a wide-range of patients with visual dysfunction due to nervous system impairment and directs the Colorado Posterior Cortical Atrophy Support Group at the University of Colorado, which she founded in 2012.
Immediate Past Chair: Sebastian Crutch, PhD
Sebastian Crutch is Professor of Neuropsychology at the Dementia Research Centre, UCL Institute of Neurology. His research focuses on rare and young onset dementias, especially posterior cortical atrophy (PCA), the so-called ‘visual variant’ of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The work has led to improved understanding of dementia-related visual impairment and the causes and consequences of atypical AD more generally. Seb and colleagues also run the PCA Support Group providing practical, social and emotional support to those living with the condition (http://www.raredementiasupport.org/pca/). He has developed several interdisciplinary research themes collaborating with experts in social science, environmental engineering, occupational health and ophthalmology (ESRC/NIHR-funded work to ameliorate the effects of vision loss in dementia), computational statistics, virtual environments and human-computer interaction (EPSRC-funded work to enhance cognitive assessment), neurorehabilitation (Dunhill Medical Trust-funded work to design an app to facilitate reading in PCA), neurophysiology, engineering and neuro-otology (in Alzheimer’s Society-funded work to understand balance problems in AD). Currently he directs the Created Out of Mind2016-2018 residency at The Hub, Wellcome Collection, bringing together artists, scientists and people living with dementia in a collaboration of over 60 individuals, institutions and charities aiming to shape and enrich public and professional perceptions of the dementias, and explore the opportunities afforded by collaborative, interdisciplinary, publicly-situated research.