PIA Executive Committee:
Clinical Trials Advancement and Methods
Chair: Ruth Peters, PhD
Ruth Peters is a Senior Research Scientist at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) with a conjoint appointment in the School of Psychology at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). Dr Peters has a particular interest in cardiovascular risk and the potential for re-purposing or extending the use of existing treatments to reduce dementia risk. Her current Australian and international work on antihypertensive classes builds directly on prior work funded by a UK National Institute for Health Research Fellowship and a PhD both at Imperial College London and focused on dementia risk reduction. She also holds an MSc in Cognitive Neuropsychology from University of London. Dr Peters has led guideline changing clinical trial and epidemiological work in dementia risk reduction and between 2010 and 2012 was also part of the core team setting up and developing the Imperial Clinical Trials Unit (ICTU). ICTU was launched in 2010 and is a fully UKCRC registered trials unit.
Vice Chair: Erin Abner, PhD
Dr. Abner is an Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology in the College of Public Health, University of Kentucky, Lexington, and also holds joint appointments in the Department of Biostatistics and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging. Dr. Abner received her Master of Public Health in Biostatistics from the University of Kentucky (2006), and her Ph.D. degree in Epidemiology & Biostatistics from the University of Kentucky (2013). Dr. Abner’s primary research focus is clinicopathological correlation, with a specific interest in potentially modifiable risk factors for dementia. Currently, Dr. Abner is an investigator on several clinical trials, including both pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic interventions aimed at preventing cognitive decline.
Programs Chair: Camilla Hoyos, PhD
Doctor Hoyos is a NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Fellow in the Healthy Brain Ageing Program, School of Psychology and the Centre for Sleep and Chronobiology at the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research. She will be a National Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellow from April 2021. She is a clinical trialist with over 15 years’ experience in the design, management, analysis and reporting of randomised controlled trials including pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions. She has a Master of Public Health and a PhD investigating the association between sleep apnoea and cardiometabolic health utilising clinical trial methodology. Dr Hoyos’s current fellowship is broadening her research into understanding the role sleep disturbance, including sleep apnoea and insomnia, plays in promoting cardio-metabolic disease and neuropathological changes in the brain that result in the progression of cognitive decline in older adults at risk of dementia.
Communications Chair: Catherine Mummery, MD, PhD
Cath Mummery is a consultant neurologist and leads the dementia service at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. She is Head of Novel Therapeutics at the Dementia Research Centre, UCL and has been senior investigator on over 20 early phase drug trials of disease modifying agents, including DIAN-TU, using immunotherapy in presymptomatic individuals at risk of familial AD, and a first-in-human phase I antisense oligonucleotide study, reducing tau accumulation in AD. She is on global advisory boards for Roche, Genentech and IONIS, and sits on the steering committee for the aducanumab programme.
She sits on the steering committee for the Alzheimer’s Research UK led Early Detection Of Neurodegeneration (EDON) project, which aims to develop and validate digital fingerprints for specific neurodegenerative diseases to enhance early identification of disease.
She is Deputy Director for the Leonard Wolfson Experimental Neurology Centre at NHNN, a unit dedicated to early phase trials in neurodegeneration. She is clinical lead for the Neurogenetic Therapeutics Programme at UCL, dedicated to collaborative development of genetic therapies in neurodegeneration from drug discovery to bedside.
Early Career Representative: Carla Abdelnour Ruiz, PhD Candidate
Carla Abdelnour Ruiz is the Deputy Head of the Clinical Trials Unit and the coordinator of Fundació ACE Social Technology And Robotics Reseach (FACESTARR). She leads the research in Lewy body disease at Fundació ACE and is part of the steering committee of European Dementia with Lewy Body Consortium (E-DLB). Additionally, she is the coordinator of the Cognition and Behavioral Study Group of the Catalan Neurological Society.
She obtained her Neurologist degree at the Hospital Príncipe de Asturias in Madrid, Spain. Currently, she is a predoctoral student investigating Lewy bodies disease at the Medicine Department of the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
Abdelnour has published 25 articles in indexed journals. She has participated in the writing of chapters of scientific books.
Her main activity is the conduction of clinical trials for Alzheimer´s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders like dementia with Lewy bodies. Additionally, she works at the Memory Unit in the diagnosis and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and she has special interest in the Social Robotics, the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) solutions, the analysis of the human-robot interaction and the development of new care strategies for elderly patients with cognitive impairment.
Early Career Representative: Maureen Okafor, MD, MPH
Maureen Okafor, MD MPH is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Goizueta Alzheimer's Disease Research Center in the Department of Neurology, Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Okafor completed her MD at NAU, Nnewi and received her Master of Public Health in Global Epidemiology from Emory University Rollins School of Public Health. Of interest to her are the design and conduct of clinical research centered on cognitive aging, including vascular, metabolic and neurodegenerative contributors to cognitive impairment. Currently, she is studying the role of angiotensin receptor blockers on AD biomarkers and cognition, and the role of neuroinflammation and neuromodulation in Alzheimer's disease. She is study lead on 2 ongoing AD clinical trials and engages in community outreach and educational activities which empower recruitment and retention within the Emory ADRC.
Immediate Past Chair: Gregory Jicha, MD, PhD
Dr. Jicha graduated from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University with an M.D. and a Ph.D. Pathology in 2000. He then completed a medical internship, neurology residency, and behavioral neurology fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN from 2000-2005. Dr. Jicha is a Professor and Vice Chair for Academic Affairs in the Department of Neurology and Sanders-Brown Center on Aging at the University of Kentucky (UK). Dr. Jicha holds the Robert T & Nyles Y McCowan Endowed Chair in Alzheimer’s Research at UK.
Dr. Jicha serves as an Associate Center Director and leads the Clinical Core of the UK , NIA-funded Alzheimer’s Disease Center. He also serves as the Medical Director of KY Telecare and directs the Telemedicine Cognitive Clinic at UK, designed to reach out to rural populations across KY for both clinical and research-related activities in the area of AD and related disorders. He is the principle investigator at UK for the National Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study Group, the Alzheimer’s Therapeutic Research Institute, and the NIH-funded Alzheimer’s Clinical Trial Consortium, and also serves on the Clinical Task Force and Steering Committee for the National Institute of Aging Alzheimer’s Disease Center Program. He is PI on multiple active NIH-funded clinical trials with a primary research focus on translational drug development for Alzheimer’s disease, vascular cognitive impairment, and related disorders.