PIA Executive Committee:
Diversity and Disparities
Chair: Yakeel T. Quiroz, PhD
Dr. Quiroz is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Neurology and Psychiatry at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School. She completed her Ph.D. training in Clinical Psychology at Boston University and a fellowship in neuropsychology at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. She currently serves as Director of the MGH Multicultural Alzheimer’s Prevention Program (MAPP), and as Director of the MGH Familial Dementia Neuroimaging Lab.
By applying her efforts to a large Colombian family that carries a genetic mutation that causes early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Dr. Quiroz’s research has focused on characterizing brain changes that may predispose individuals to develop memory loss or dementia later in life. Her work has already provided evidence of brain abnormalities in cognitively-intact individuals at high risk for AD decades before their clinical onset. Her findings have helped the field to re-conceptualize Alzheimer as a sequence of changes that begins decades before cognitive decline, and which may be targeted by promising disease-slowing treatments at a time in which they might have their most profound effect. Her research work has resulted in several publications that have generated considerable discussion in the field, and has achieved recognition by colleagues at the regional, national, and international level.
Dr. Quiroz also has strong clinical interests in cultural neuropsychology and assessment of monolingual and bilingual Spanish-speaking patients.
Vice Chair: Ganesh Babulal, PhD, OTD
Ganesh's research investigates the relationship between cognition, affect and their impact on instrumental activities of daily living in populations with chronic neurological diseases, specifically, dementia. His current research efforts examine changes in driving performance via road tests and behavior via naturalistic driving methodologies to understand decline in older adults with and without preclinical Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, he is examining the role of race and health disparities in preclinical AD, driving and community mobility. Ganesh is also interested in the how prevalence of cognitive impairment and dementia in low and middle income countries are influenced by multidimensional poverty, stigma, armed conflict, and access to services.
Programs Chair: Mario A Parra, PhD
I graduated as a Medical Doctor in 1993 and as a Clinical Neurophysiologist in 1997. I worked at the Cuban Neuroscience Centre and at different University Hospitals in Cuba and in Colombia. During my clinical work I focused on neuropsychological and neurophysiological aspects of dementia syndromes and other
neurological disorders. I taught neuroscience related subjects in the field of medicine and psychology. My motivation for teaching and research led me to a major career change into academia. This started with my PhD in 2005 at the University of Edinburgh and continued with three Postdoctoral Fellowships and a position as a Clinical Studies Officer within the NHS Scotland. I was as an Assistant Professor in Psychology at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh from 2015 until 2018. I am a currently a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK.
Research interests include cognitive mechanisms underlying normal and abnormal ageing. Cognitive and behavioural changes in neurodegenerative diseases, with emphasis on Alzheimer’s Disease. The investigation of functional brain changes (fMRI and ERPs) in the course of dementing illnesses and other brain
disorders. Development of cognitive tests for the early detection of dementia with emphasis on Alzheimer’s disease. Development of technology based intervention procedures to enhance functions of everyday life in older people who are experiencing cognitive decline.
Communications Chair: Megan Zuelsdorff, PhD
Dr. Megan Zuelsdorff is an Assistant Scientist in the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC) and an Alzheimer’s Association Research Fellow. She received her PhD in Population Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016 and completed postdoctoral training in the UW’s Health Disparities Scholars Program and Center for Demography of Health and Aging. She is currently the Principal Investigator for the NIA- and Alzheimer’s Association-funded Stress and Resilience in Dementia (STRIDE) study. STRIDE explores social-biological mechanisms in cognitive and brain aging, and the role for these mechanisms in racial, socioeconomic, and geographic disparities in cognitive health and dementia risk.
Dr. Zuelsdorff’s training in social epidemiology and public health informs her broad research interests in (1) life course socioenvironmental determinants of risk and resilience in historically disadvantaged communities and (2) measurement of cognition and dementia across diverse populations. Progress in these areas is necessary for understanding and addressing disparity, and will require prioritizing the inclusion of underrepresented populations in cognitive and brain aging study cohorts. The identification and mitigation of barriers to participation in cognition and biomarker research is a key program goal for Dr. Zuelsdorff and a crucial focus of the Diversity & Disparities PIA.
Student/Post-Doc Representative: Alejandra Guerrero, MD
Alejandra Guerrero Barragán is from Bogota, Colombia. She completed her medical studies at Universidad del Rosario in 2011; conducted her residency in neurology at Universidad de la Sabana – Hospital Occidente de Kennedy between 2013 and 2017, where she served as chief resident in neurology. In the final year of her residency, she was a Visiting Scholar in the Memory Unit at Hospital de la Santa Creu I Sant Pau in Barcelona (Spain). Nowadays, Dr. Guerrero is an Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health based at the Global Brain Health Institute at Trinity College Dublin (Ireland). In 2019 Dr. Guerrero is going to start a Masters in Public Health at Universidad de Los Andes (Colombia). Dr. Guerrero´s research is focused on vulnerable populations like the homeless.