PIA Executive Committee:

Immunity and Neurodegeneration


Chair: Andrea J. Tenner, PhD

Dr. Andrea Tenner is currently Professor of Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, Neurobiology & Behavior, and Pathology & Laboratory Medicine at the University of California, Irvine.  After earning her Ph.D. at the University of California, San Diego, Dr. Tenner entered the complement field as a postdoctoral fellow at Scripps Research Foundation in La Jolla.  She has made major contributions to how this innate immune system influences protective responses to pathogens and injury, modulates immune responses, contributes to neuroprotection and, when dysregulated, causes detrimental inflammatory disorders particularly in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Her laboratory has explored the consequences of activation of the entire complement pathway by fibrillar (ß-sheet) amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s disease, including the contribution of complement activation product C5a to inflammation and progression of Alzheimer’s disease in mouse models.  A major focus of her lab today is to identify and verify potential targets to slow or stop progression of this and other neurodegenerative diseases using genetic, molecular, confocal microscopy and behavioral approaches.  Another current focus is on neuroprotection and potential therapeutic targets to enhance neuron survival and function.  In addition, she is Co-Director of UCI’s MODEL-AD group, with the goal of generating new mouse models that mimic sporadic (late onset) AD.

 Vice Chair: Elizabeth M. Bradshaw, PhD
Dr. Bradshaw began her work in human immunology in the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School as a Research Fellow in clinical immunology. In 2014, she was promoted to the rank of Assistant Professor.  In 2017 she moved to the Department of Neurology at Columbia University Medical Center. A main focus of Dr. Bradshaw’s work has been understanding the role of the human innate immune system, both central and peripheral,  in complex neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Interestingly, genetic studies of Alzheimer’s disease directly implicate the involvement of the innate immune system. In Parkinson’s disease, the genetic modulation of the immune system is still being uncovered. Currently, one of Dr. Bradshaw’s major research interests is the translation of findings from these studies, to molecular outcomes and potentially therapeutically targetable molecules in innate immune cells.

 Programs Chair: Sarah C. Hopp, PhD

Sarah C. Hopp, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and the Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio. The long-term goal of her research program is to identify mechanisms of microglia dysfunction during Alzheimer’s disease, aging, and other neurological disorders. Currently, her lab focuses on pathways related to microglia calcium regulation using pharmacological and genetic approaches in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease. Prior to joining the Biggs Institute, Sarah received postdoctoral training from Massachusetts General Hospital in the laboratory of Dr. Brad Hyman where she examined molecular pathways involved in calcium dysregulation and the role of microglia in transmission of tau aggregates. She received her PhD in Neuroscience from Ohio State University and her BS in Brain and Cognitive Sciences from MIT.

 Communications Chair: Courtney Kloske, PhD Candidate

Courtney Kloske is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Kentucky. She works in the lab of Dr. Donna Wilcock at Sanders-Brown Center on Aging. She completed her B.S in Cellular and Molecular Biology from Auburn University in 2017. Her current research is focused on identifying molecular mechanisms impacting dementia. Her doctoral work investigates the role Apolipoprotein E plays on neuroinflammation in Alzheimer’s disease. She uses a translational approach with both autopsy tissue and animal models. In other work, she is looking to identify potential therapeutic targets on vascular contributions to cognitive impairment. Beyond the bench, she is also an Alzheimer’s Association Ambassador for Public Policy in the KY-06 district. In this role she must actively advocat for increases in research funding and support for patients and caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s Disease. 

Steering Committee Member: Brianne Bettcher, PhD

Dr. Bettcher is an Associate Professor and neuropsychologist at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, and she directs neuropsychology research at the CU Alzheimer's and Cognition Center. She obtained a PhD from Temple University in Clinical Psychology with a specialization in Neuroscience, and she completed her fellowship at the University of California San Francisco’s Memory and Aging Center. The goal of Dr. Bettcher’s research program is to elucidate modifiable, immune-mediated factors that will inform early treatments for cognitive decline for a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases. Her laboratory utilizes plasma-based and CSF-based multiplex arrays of chemokines, growth factors, and cytokines to delineate how peripheral innate immune signatures contribute to pathological aging trajectories. Her work also focuses on immune interactions between the periphery and the central nervous system.

Steering Committee Member: Guillaume Dorothee, PhD

Dr. Guillaume Dorothée is a tenured Senior Investigator in neuroimmunology at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) and team leader at the Saint-Antoine Research Center in Paris, France. He obtained his Ph.D in Immunology from University Pierre and Marie Curie (Paris 6) in 2003, and trained as a postdoctoral fellow in antimicrobial immunity at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and in fundamental immunology at the Curie Institute in Paris. Since 2007, his research focuses on understanding the role of neuroimmune interactions in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other neurodegenerative disorders, and developing innovative immunotherapy approaches and immune-based biomarkers in such conditions. Based on a translational research approach in mouse models and clinical studies, one focus of Dr. Dorothée’s laboratory addresses the interplay between peripheral adaptive immunity and innate neuroinflammation in Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. The team’s works in mouse models of AD-like amyloid and Tau pathology suggest that different T cell populations may contribute to modulate AD progression, in part by modulating innate neuroinflammatory responses. The studies further highlight the therapeutic potential in AD of T-cell-targeting peripheral immunomodulatory approaches for rebalancing detrimental innate neuroinflammation. The team’s clinical works strengthen the potential interest of such approaches in patients with AD, and further support an instrumental role of other peripheral immune populations in AD pathophysiology, including neutrophils as key effectors of innate immunity. Dr. Dorothée is a Scientific Council member of Association France Alzheimer, Executive Committee member of the French Club for NeuroImmunology (CFNI), and Expert Evaluator for the European Commission.

 Steering Committee Member: Keenan Walker, PhD

Keenan Walker is an Assistant Professor of Neurology and a clinical neuropsychologist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He received his bachelor’s degree in cognitive science and in psychology and brain sciences from Johns Hopkins University. He received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from St. John's University. He completed his pre-doctoral internship in clinical neuropsychology at the University of California San Diego / VA San Diego Healthcare System before beginning his postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in age-related cognitive disorders. Dr. Walker’s program of research focuses on understanding the role of abnormal immune functioning and inflammation in Alzheimer’s disease, late-life cognitive decline, and physical frailty. He uses proteomic methods, brain-derived exosomes, and neuroimaging to investigate the link between chronic systemic inflammation, neuroinflammation, and neurologic endpoints using data from ongoing cohort studies, including the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study and BIOCARD cohort. He is also investigating the mechanisms underlying cognitive decline resulting from critical illness, major infection, and iatrogenic factors associated with hospitalization.

 Student/Postdoctoral Member: Samuel E. Marsh, PhD

Samuel E. Marsh is currently a post-doctoral fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in the lab of Dr. Beth Stevens.  He received a B.S. in Behavioral Neuroscience from Northeastern University in 2010 and completed his Ph.D. in Neurobiology at the University of California, Irvine in the lab of Dr. Mathew Blurton-Jones in 2016.  His doctoral work was focused on the role of the peripheral adaptive immune system in Alzheimer’s disease mechanisms by which peripheral immune signaling modulates microglial function.  Sam’s current research is focused on utilizing single cell genomics to better understand microglial and immune function/dysfunction in aging and neurodegeneration.

 Student/Postdoctoral Member: Brittani R. Price, PhD
See above.Brittani R. Price is currently a post-doctoral research fellow at Brigham Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School under the mentorship of Dr. Cynthia Lemere. She completed her bachelor's degree in biomedical science at Morehead State University in 2015 and her doctoral work under the mentorship of Dr. Donna Wilcock at the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging in 2019. Her graduate work focused on molecular mechanisms underlying vascular cognitive impairment and dementia as well as preclinical therapeutic targeting of TREM2 for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Brittani is now focused on preclinical therapeutic targeting of post-translationally modified forms of amyloid and the prevention of adverse cerebrovascular events following immunotherapy.

Immediate Past Chair: Donna Wilcock, PhD

See above.Dr. Wilcock is an Associate Professor at the University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging. Dr. Wilcock’s research lab is interested in vascular cognitive impairment and dementia; with projects to examine the molecular mechanisms of vascular cognitive impairment, focusing primarily on inflammatory processes. Dr. Wilcock also have projects that determine the influence cerebrovascular disease has on the progression and severity of Alzheimer's disease, as well as how these vascular pathologies affects response to Alzheimer's disease targeted therapeutics. Finally, in collaboration with Elizabeth Head of Pharmacology and Frederick Schmitt of Neurology to assess neuroinflammatory changes in Down Syndrome, we are developing a translational research program examining neuroinflammatory proteins and homocysteine as modifiable biomarkers of cognitive impairment due to both Alzheimer's disease and cerebrovascular pathologies.