PIA Executive Committee:
Sex and Gender Differences in Alzheimer's Disease
Chair: Timothy Hohman
Dr. Timothy Hohman is an Associate Professor of Neurology, cognitive neuroscientist, and computational geneticist, with secondary appointments in the Vanderbilt Genetics Institute and Department of Pharmacology. Dr. Hohman's research leverages advanced computational approaches from genomics, proteomics, and neuroscience to identify novel markers of Alzheimer's disease risk and resilience. Within the Vanderbilt Memory and Alzheimer's Center, Dr. Hohman is the director of the Biomarker Core, oversees the development of neuroimaging, proteomic, and big-data analytical pipelines, and is the Principal Investigator of the Computational Neurogenomics Team focused on Alzheimer's Resilience and Sex Differences. Outside of Vanderbilt, he has directed numerous multi-site collaborative initiatives, with as many as four analysis sites and 40+ contributing universities. Dr. Hohman directs the Genomics Core for the Preclinical Alzheimer's Disease Consortium and is co-chair of the Alzheimer's Disease Sequencing Project (ADSP) Harmonization Consortium. Dr. Hohman's programmatic research focuses on understanding how certain individuals are able to accumulate Alzheimer's disease neuropathology without showing clinical symptoms of the disease. He has identified molecular drivers of such resilience through genomic and proteomic analyses leveraging neuroimaging and neuropathology endophenotypes. Dr. Hohman's team also integrates these diverse data types into a precision medicine approach, focusing on characterizing the best predictors of risk and resilience given an individual's age, sex, genetic, and neuropathological context. Through transdisciplinary collaboration, Dr. Hohman's team seeks to facilitate a more rapid move from genomic discovery to therapeutic development.
Vice Chair: Rachel Buckley
Dr. Rachel Buckley is an Australian cognitive neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital/Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Boston, USA) and is a recipient of an NIH-NIA K99/R00 Pathway to Independence award. Her research is focused on predictive modeling of sex differences in longitudinal cognitive change in older adults who are at genetic and biological risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Her recent work builds on previous literature that suggests women stand at greater risk of progressing to Alzheimer’s disease dementia than men. Specifically, she has become engaged in understanding the underlying biological mechanisms that might underlie female susceptibility (or resilience) to Alzheimer’s disease using positron emission tomography (PET) imaging of the tau protein in the brain. Dr. Buckley is also known in the area of subjective cognitive decline where she wrote her PhD; here, she examined associations between subjective memory concerns and PET AD biomarkers. Dr. Buckley is also co-head of the Healthy Brain Project (healthybrainproject.org.au) with Drs. Yen Ying Lim, Matthew Pase and Nawaf Yassi. The aim of this study is to use digital technology to detect Alzheimer’s disease risk as early as possible in racially and ethnically diverse, and rural, populations across Australia.
Programs Chair: Judy Pa
Dr. Judy Pa is a PhD Cognitive Neuroscientist and Associate Professor at the University of Southern California in the Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute and in the departments of Neurology, Neuroscience, and Biomedical Engineering. Dr. Pa has 18 years of human neuroimaging experience and directs a research lab focused on Alzheimer’s risk factors and prevention— with a primary goal of developing and testing new lifestyle interventions for preserving brain health. Dr. Pa is the Imaging Core Co-Leader for USC's Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and a Project Leader for USC’s Program Project on Vascular Contributions to Alzheimer’s disease. Her active research program includes 2 large ongoing lifestyle intervention trials with a focus on physical and cognitive activities, in addition to understanding Alzheimer’s risk factors, such as sex/gender and APOE4. Her research program is supported by the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association.
Communications Chair: Frances-Catherine Quevenco
Frances-Catherine Quevenco is an accomplished neuroscientist with a passion for enabling dementia patients to access timely and accurate diagnoses to receive the proper care they need.
Frances completed a BSc at UCL London in Psychology, followed by an MSc at Imperial College London before joining the National University of Singapore as an Associate Cognitive Neuroscientist. After 2 years of research at NUS, she joined Prof. Roger Nitsch’s group at the University of Zurich, dedicating her PhD and Postdoc to exploring preclinical Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers using neuroimaging techniques to enable earlier detection of the disease when an intervention is most effective and where she first became aware of the stark sex differences between the manifestation of the disease.
She has since then broadened her field of expertise, taking on a medical position at Roche Diagnostics to educate and establish the value of a timely biomarker-based diagnosis in the field Alzheimer’s disease. In parallel, she is also a strong advocate of advancing research into sex- and gender-specific differences in brain and mental disease and a core team member of the Women's Brain Project.
Early Career Representative: Justina Avila-Rieger
Dr. Justina Avila-Rieger is a postdoctoral research scientist in Neurology at the Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center and the Taub Institute for Research in Aging and Alzheimer’s disease at Columbia University. She completed her doctoral degree in clinical psychology, with an emphasis on neuropsychology and quantitative methodology, at the University of New Mexico and completed her clinical internship in Neuropsychology at the Baltimore VAMC. During her graduate training, she also specialized in health policy as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Fellow. Her research focuses on variability in sex/gender inequalities in cognitive decline and dementia risk across race/ethnicity, place, and time. Her overall goal as a researcher is to give a voice to the communities that are traditionally marginalized in sex/gender cognitive aging research. In her own work, she does this by emphasizing the lifecourse experiences of women of color and how these experiences shape biological mechanisms that ultimately lead to sex/gender inequalities in late-life cognitive health.
Steering Member – Human: Michelle Mielke
Michelle M. Mielke, Ph.D. received a Bachelor’s of Science in Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh and a doctorate in Neuroepidemiology from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is currently a Professor in the Department of Health Sciences Research, Division of Epidemiology, and a Professor in the Department of Neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Dr. Mielke works as a translational epidemiologist to further understanding of the etiology and epidemiology of neurodegenerative diseases. A primary focus of her research is the identification of fluid biomarkers for the diagnosis, prediction, and progression of Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. Another focus of Dr. Mielke’s research is on understanding the sex and gender differences in the development and progression of neurodegenerative diseases. She directs the Mayo Clinic Specialized Center of Research Excellence on Sex Differences, with a specific focus on abrupt endocrine disruption, accelerated aging, and Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Mielke is the past-chair of the Biofluid-Based Biomarker Professional Interest Area under the Alzheimer’s Association, co-Chair of the Society of Women’s Health Alzheimer’s Disease Network, a member of the Food and Drug Administration Peripheral and Central Nervous System Advisory Committee, and Senior Associate Editor of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. She is the PI of several NIH- and Foundation-funded clinical- and epidemiological-based grants. She has published over 200 manuscripts and has presented at multiple national and international conferences and consortiums.
Steering Member – Human: Michael Ewers
Dr. Michael Ewers is a Professor at the Institute of Stroke and Dementia Research, University Hospital, Ludwig Maximilian University Munich. A major research interest focuses on identifying those functional brain mechanisms that underlie reserve capacity in Alzheimer’s disease. In a series of cross-validation studies, fMRI assessed connectivity of a hub in the fronto-parietal control network was found to attenuate the impact of core AD pathology on cognitive performance (Franzmeier et al., Neurology 2017; Brain 2018; Alzheimer’s Res Therapy, 2018). We are also investigating whether microglia activation (measured by biomarkers of TREM2) may provide a protective mechanism in response to AD pathology (Suarez-Calvet et al. Science Translational Medicine, 2016). Another focus is on the identification of cerebrovascular and amyloid-beta related DTI changes to determine when and where white matter alterations occur within the pathological cascade of Alzheimer’s disease (Araque Caballero et al. Brain 2018).
Steering Member – Non-Human: Roberta Brinton
Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton is the Director of the Center for Innovation in Brain Science at the University of Arizona Health Sciences and Professor of Pharmacology and Neurology, College of Medicine, University of Arizona. The Center for Innovation in Brain Science is focused on translational research and mechanistically driven therapeutic development for the at-risk aging and Alzheimer’s brain. Brinton’s research has focused broadly on the mechanisms through which the aging brain develops late onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD). She leads three programs of discovery research and two programs in translational / clinical research. Her discovery research programs focus on systems biology of: 1) Mechanisms underlying risk of Alzheimer’s during female brain aging; 2) Sex differences in mechanisms underlying risk of AD and 3) Regeneration and repair mechanisms and therapeutics relevant to for Alzheimer’s. Her translational and clinical research programs focus on therapeutic development to prevent, delay and reverse AD with emphasis on systems biology regulators of the bioenergetic and regenerative systems of brain. Her research is supported by the National Institute on Aging, Alzheimer’s Association and Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation. In addition to research endeavors, Brinton leads a translationally oriented Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias NIA T32 (AZ-TRADD) for Predoctoral Fellows and mPI on the NIDNS URBRAIN R25 training grant for Diné Tribal College students (Tsaile, Arizona), Navajo Nation. Brinton serves on the NIH Directors Advisory Committee, the National Institute on Aging Scientific Advisory Board and the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation Board of Governors.
Steering Member – Non-Human: Liisa Galea
Information will be forthcoming.