PIA Executive Committee:

PIA to Elevate Early Career Researchers (PEERs)


Chair: Adam Smith
Adam Smith is Programme Director for the National Institute for Hsearch National Director for Dementia Research, based within the NIHR Dementia Biomedical Research Centre at University College London. Adam has worked on a number of innovation programmes within the NHS, Department of Health, commercial sector and at University College London. He previously worked on healthcare associated infections, particularly MRSA, patient waiting times and healthcare reconfiguration and over the past few years has been entirely focused on dementia.
In addition to his own research, Adam has led various national programmes looking at improving study recruitment (leading on the development of Join Dementia Research), better supporting care homes and residents to engage with research (with the Enabling Research in Care Homes ENRICH), and most recently leading on the creation and delivery of Dementia Researcher, an international initiative to support early career dementia researchers.
Adam is also a member of the UK Health Research Authority National Research Ethics Panel, and a Research Associate at the University of Sydney. He also write blogs and hosts podcasts for Dementia Researcher.
Twitter: @BetterResearch

Vice Chair: C. Elizabeth Shaaban
I am a population neuroscientist and postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health working with mentors Drs. Bill Klunk and Ann Cohen. I am also a University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center OSCAR Scholar working with the Outreach, Recruitment, and Engagement (ORE) Core. I completed my PhD in epidemiology in Dr. Caterina Rosano’s lab, where I trained in advanced neuroimaging of cerebral small vessel disease and population neuroscience of aging. I integrate the methods of epidemiology, data science, neuroscience, and psychology to study vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia (VCID), including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), using a population neuroscience framework. 
My current and future work involves applying a population neuroscience approach to evaluate whether there are gender / sex differences in the cerebral small vessel disease-to-AD pathophysiological cascade. My aim is to gain insight into gender/sex-based intervention targets to reduce AD and promote brain health equity.
I am excited to serve as the vice chair for PEERs. I have experience starting and running mentorship programs in STEM, membership in other ISTAART PIAs, and the knowledge of ECR needs from my own PhD and postdoctoral experiences. I look forward to better serving ECRs to keep us in dementia research! Fun fact: Outside of work, prior to COVID, I was a beginning salsa dancer, and I love to learn languages, cook, hike, and travel. My COVID hobbies have been exploring new local parks for weekend hikes and birding.

Programs Chair: James P. Quinn
I’m a neurology research fellow in the Alzheimer’s Clinical & Translational Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital under the supervision of Dr. Becky Carlyle and Dr. Steven Arnold. My research involves studying the neuronal signaling molecules, neuropeptides, in dementia pathogenesis to unravel disease mechanisms, identify new diagnostic biomarkers, and define novel therapeutic targets. My PhD research at the University of Manchester focused on the role of tau proteolysis in dementia pathogenesis, identifying granzyme A as a novel protease of tau and characterising cellular effects of tau fragments and their role in the brains of patients with dementia. 
I am extremely excited to be the new programs chair for PEERs. I hope to use my experience of undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate research in dementia in the UK, Europe and the US, to help improve the early career research landscape around the world. When I’m not in the lab you can find me exploring the US and the world (when we are allowed), cycling, bouldering and listening to music.

Communications Chair: Naiara Demnitz  
I’m a cognitive neuroscientist at the Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance, working in the Healthy Ageing research group. Previously, I was an Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health at Trinity College Dublin and completed my PhD at the University of Oxford under the supervision of Klaus Ebmeier, Heidi Johansen-Berg and Claire Sexton. My research focuses on how modifiable lifestyle factors, such as physical activity, can benefit the structure and function of the ageing brain.
PEERs will provide a fantastic platform to amplify the voices of early career researchers (ECRs) around the world. In my role as communications chair, I am looking forward to engaging with other ECRs, and developing approaches to support incoming and existing young researchers.