PIA Executive Committee:
Nutrition, Metabolism and Dementia
Co-Chair: Cecilia Samieri, PhD
After a doctorate in veterinary medicine, Cécilia Samieri hold a PhD in epidemiology from University of Bordeaux (France) in 2009. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Channing Division of Network Medicine, Harvard Medical school (Boston, USA). Upon return to France, she joined the INSERM (French National Institute for Health) as a permanent researcher in 2015. She is currently senior epidemiologist in the Bordeaux Population Health research center, INSERM U1219.
Cécilia Samieri's research has mainly focused on the epidemiology of aging, with the aim of understanding how environmental factors, in particular diet, influences the etiology of brain diseases and conditions in aging, in particular dementia and cognitive aging. She has been working on several large cohorts on dementia and cognitive decline, and she has developed a multidisciplinary epidemiological expertise across nutrition, neurosciences, biostatistics and brain imaging – a critical approach to investigate lifestyle and health with a lifelong epidemiological perspective.
Co-Chair: Hussein Yassine, MD
Dr. Yassine is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Neurology and the Director of the Roybal Alzheimer’s Disease Research Program at University of Southern California. Dr. Yassine has published findings on mechanisms for the delivery of the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to the brain. The Yassine team is interested in novel approaches for AD prevention. Specifically, our goal is to define the target population for DHA supplementation by focusing on how APOE genotype and AD disease stage affects DHA brain penetration and uptake. The Yassine Lab utilizes a multidisciplinary approach by combing clinical trials, imaging studies and basic animal models. We have three major and complementary interests: (1) clinicals trials for AD prevention, (2) developing PET imaging modalities to study DHA brain uptake, and (2) examining how brain HDL formation influences AD risk. He is the principal investigator of the NIH-funded double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial (PreventE4) of high dose of DHA supplementation over 2 years in cognitively healthy participants stratified by APOE status (ε4 vs. non ε4 carriers).
Programs Chair: Ondine van de Rest. PhD
Dr. Ondine van de Rest is Assistant Professor at the Division of Human Nutrition and Health of Wageningen University & Research. Her main focus is on the role of nutrition in relation to cognitive ageing. In 2009 she received her PhD degree on the impact of omega-3 fatty acids on cognitive decline and depression in older people and has >15 years of experience in managing large randomized intervention trials as well as in performing epidemiological data analyses. She is involved in several human intervention studies, all investigating nutritional effects of individual nutrients (e.g. omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, B-vitamins, proteins) and dietary strategies on metabolic as well as mental health. Ondine has published 50 papers in international, peer-reviewed journals and has an h-index of 18.
Communications Chair: Heidi Johnson, MS
Ms. Heidi Johnson is currently the Senior Manager, Research Engagement for the Alzheimer's Association Illinois Chapter. Her previous experience includes serving as Division Administrator and Practice Manager for Vascular, Colorectal and General Surgery Divisions at Froedert and Medical College of Wisconsin and Administrative Director for the Chicago Medical School Office of the Dean, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. Ms. Johnson has a master’s in healthcare administration from Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science and a bachelor’s degree in Business and Management from Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Student Representative: Sophie Lefèvre-Arbogast, MSc
Mrs Lefèvre-Arbogast is a PhD candidate in epidemiology from the university of Bordeaux in France. She graduated from a French “Grande Ecole” in agri-food engineering and with a MSc in data science and statistics for biology. She has been working since three years on identifying components of the food exposome associated with the development of cognitive disorders/dementia in older persons from the French Three-City study. Beyond traditional approaches based on candidate nutrients, she has leveraged her multidisciplinary skills across biostatistics, epidemiology and food biology to study multi-nutrient patterns and complex metabolomics data in relation to dementia. Her PhD is funded as part of the translational consortium D-CogPlast (European Union’s 2020 Research and Innovation Programme – JPI “healthy diet for a healthy life”) that aims to uncover - through metabolomics in 3C- and validate food bioactives protecting against age-related cognitive decline triggered by brain plasticity alteration. She is particularly interested in better understanding the complex relationship between nutrition and brain health, including the underlying mechanisms and the interindividual variability in the response, which may help uncover new metabolic pathways and nutritional compounds to target for the prevention of cognitive aging and dementia.
Immediate Past Co-Chair: Martha Clare Morris, ScD
Dr. Martha Clare Morris is Professor of Epidemiology in the Department of Internal Medicine, Director of the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging,, and Assistant Provost of Community Research at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. She received her doctoral degree in Epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health. She has over 20 years experience studying risk factors in the development of Alzheimer’s disease and other health problems of older persons, and in particular, how nutrition relates to these conditions. Dr. Morris has published findings on the relations of diet patterns, antioxidant nutrients, dietary fats, and the B-vitamins to these conditions. She is the lead creator of the MIND diet for healthy brain aging. She has a long history of NIH and other funding to examine dietary risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease among 10,000 African American and Caucasian participants of the Chicago Health and Aging Project and the relation of tocopherols and brain metals to neuropathology and neurologic diseases among 1,200 Chicago participants of the Memory and Aging Project. She is also the Principal Investigator of a multi-center randomized trial of the MIND diet to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Immediate Past Co-Chair: Gene Bowman, ND, MPH
Dr. Bowman is a clinician-scientist passionate about nutritional and complementary medicine approaches for the promotion of healthy cognitive aging and prevention of neurodegenerative disease. He is particularly interested in developing novel nutritional therapies, nutritional metabolomics, and biomarker discovery in aging. His background includes training in exercise science, naturopathic medicine, and public health epidemiology and biostatistics. He completed NIH sponsored post-doctoral research in nutrition and Alzheimer disease followed by a NIH career development award focused on developing individualized nutritional therapies aging and dementia. He maintained an active clinical practice for nearly a decade spanning both academic medicine and community clinic with specialization in clinical nutrition and integrative medicine in aging and dementia.
He has the experience in leading multi-disciplinary and multi-national teams of people in academia, industry and voluntary health organizations. He has experience in the design and implementation of single and multi-site nutritional interventions and epidemiological studies focused on cognitive aging and neurodegenerative diseases in both academia and industry settings.
Dr. Bowman is the Associate Director of the Interventional Studies in Aging Center at the Institute for Aging Research at the Hebrew Senior Life and an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA.