PIA Executive Committee:

Vascular Cognitive Disorders


Chair: Atticus Hainsworth, PhD 

I am a translational scientist working on cerebral small vessel disease and vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia (VCID).

I am currently Reader in Cerebrovascular Disease at St George’s University of London. My first degree is from Cambridge (1985) and my PhD from Rush Medical Center, Chicago (1989). I have extensive experience of  neuropathology and in vivo experimental studies. I am Chief Investigator on the PASTIS trial, testing tadalafil for possible re-purposing in dementia. My long-term research goals are to understand the pathogenesis of small vessel disease, and to see a drug for in clinical use for vascular cognitive impairment.

I have been involved with the Vascular PIA for the past 7 years. Initially my role was to submit reports from other conferences for communication to V-PIA members. I have convened and chaired vascular sessions at AAIC 2015 and AAIC 2016 (with Donna Wilcock), at AAIC 2017 (with Eric Smith) and at AAIC 2019 (with Julie Schneider). I was elected Vice Chair of the Vascular PIA in 2017 and became Chair in July 2019. My goals for the vascular PIA are to
1. Engage the wider PIA membership, in particular reaching out to junior colleagues as the research leaders of the future;
2. Encourage more frequent contact across the PIA membership worldwide, via teleconference, webinars, Skype, WhatsApp and social media (my Twitter name is @AtticHains);
3. Activate the role of pharma industry in VCI. 


Vice Chair: To Be Announced

Programs Chair: Geert Jan Biessels, PhD
Geert Jan Biessels is professor of neurology with a chair on Cerebrovascular disease and Cognition at the Brain Center Rudolf Magnus of the University Medical Centre Utrecht, the Netherlands. He obtained his PhD in 1997 and registered as a neurologist in 2004. His major research interest is vascular cognitive impairment(VCI), focusing on etiological research using novel MRI markers and on the role of diabetes.

Using the unique properties of high field 7T-MRI his group has been able – for the first time - to detect cerebral microinfarcts in vivo and subsequently translated the technique to 3T-MRI. His team is currently assessing structure and function of the small vessels themselves, using advanced techniques at 7T-MRI, thus getting closer to the core of cerebral small vessel diseases. They also employ brain network analyses and lesion symptom mapping techniques in order to better understand cognitive impact of vascular brain injury. He is PI of the TRACE-VCI study, the META VCI map initiative and the Dutch Heart Brain Connection program.

With regard to diabetes, he has characterized trajectories and stages of cognitive dysfunction and established underlying structural brain changes with MRI. He is PI of two large multicentre RCTs on prevention of cognitive decline in patients with in type 2 diabetes.

He has mentored 40 PhD students. He has over 250 publications on VCI related topics. He has received several prestigious Dutch personal research grants. In 2015 he received the senior investigator award of the European Stroke Organization (ESO) and in 2016 he was appointed Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh in recognition of his work.

Communications Chair: Adam Brickman
Adam Brickman is an Associate Professor of Neuropsychology with tenure in the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain and Department of Neurology of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.  He completed his bachelor’s degree in neuroscience/biopsychology and psychology at Oberlin College in 1996 and his doctoral work in neuropsychology at the City University of New York in 2004.  His internship and fellowship in neuropsychology were done at Brown Medical School and Columbia University.  Adam’s research integrates neuropsychology, neuroimaging, basic science, and epidemiology to understand the determinants and cognitive consequences of aging.  His work has been supported by NIH, Alzheimer’s Association, American Psychological Association, Columbia University, and various foundations; he has authored over 200 peer-reviewed research articles. He serves as a reviewer for the NIH/NIA-Neuroscience Study Section and is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society (JINS), Neuropsychology, Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Neuropsychology Review, and Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Assessment & Disease Monitoring.  He is an associate editor of Neurodegenerative Diseases.  He is a standing member of the National Institute on Aging – Neuroscience study section.  

Executive Committee: Sandra Black, MD
Sandra Black, MD, FRCP(C) is an internationally recognized cognitive and stroke neurologist, who is a Professor of Medicine (Neurology) in the Department of Medicine, University of Toronto and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, where she held the inaugural Brill Chair in Neurology from 2006-17. An active clinical trialist in dementia and vascular cognitive impairment, she is the Executive Director of the Toronto Dementia Research Alliance, a collaborative network of five institutional UofT memory programs. She is Sunnybrook Site Director of the Heart & Stroke Foundation Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery and Hurvitz Brain Sciences Research Program Director at Sunnybrook Research Institute. She has published over 500 papers (Scopus H index 81; Google 103; >29,000 citations) in a 30-year research career that has bridged dementia and stroke, using neuroimaging to study brain-behavior relationships, with a recent focus on relationships of Alzheimer’s and silent stroke disease. She has earned numerous mentorship and research awards, including election to the Royal Society of Canada (2012), the UofT Faculty of Medicine Dean’s Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award (2015), and the Honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Waterloo (2018). She was named to the Order of Ontario in 2011, cited as an assiduous physician leader and influential architect of the Ontario Stroke System, and in 2015 appointed Officer to the Order of Canada for her contributions to Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and vascular dementia. 

Executive Committee: Perminder Sachdev, MD
Perminder Sachdev AM MBBS MD FRANZCP PhD FAHMS is Scientia Professor of Neuropsychiatry, Co-Director of the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) in the School of Psychiatry, UNSW Sydney, and Clinical Director of the Neuropsychiatric Institute (NPI) at the Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, Australia. His major areas of research are drug-induced movement disorders, brain imaging, cognitive ageing and dementia.  He has published over 600 peer-reviewed journal papers and 6 books, including one for lay readers (The Yipping Tiger and other tales from the neuropsychiatric clinic). He was named NSW Scientist of the year for Biomedical Sciences in 2010.  In 2011, he was appointed Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to medical research.  

LMIC Representative: Rufus Akinyemi, PhD
Rufus Akinyemi is the deputy director of the Centre for Genomics and Precision Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. He is a senior research fellow in the Neuroscience and Ageing Research Unit, Institute for Advanced Medical Research and Training, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan and a consultant neurologist to the University College Hospital, Ibadan. He holds a PhD from Newcastle University, United Kingdom, an MSc in Cell Biology and Genetics, and a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from the University of Ibadan. He undertook his residency training in Internal Medicine and Neurology at the University College Hospital Ibadan. Akinyemi represents Africa on the Young Stroke Professionals, Education and the World Stroke Campaign committees of the World Stroke Organization. With a research interest in stroke and vascular contributions to dementia, he has won several awards, scholarships, and fellowships, including the James Kimani Award of the Society of Neuroscientists of Africa and the Bruce Schoenberg International Award in Neuroepidemiology of the American Academy of Neurology.

LMIC Representative: Suvarna Alladi, DM
Suvarna Alladi, Professor of Neurology, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru, India specialises in cognitive and behavioural neurology. Developing strategies to reduce burden of dementia due to stroke and neurodegenerative disease are priority areas of interest, especially in the context of a developing country like India. Her research includes studying dementia in populations characterized by socio-economic, educational and linguistic diversity. Her research group has adapted and harmonized cognitive tests across different Indian languages for diagnosis of vascular cognitive impairment. She established one of the first Memory clinics in India that works closely with a large Stroke registry and has demonstrated the pattern of vascular dementia in Indian context. Dr Alladi’s group also studies a longitudinal community cohort of elderly to explore the protective impact of lifetime experiences such as education, bilingualism, diet and physical activity on dementia using multi-modality evaluation. She co-founded the NGO- Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India, Hyderabad-Deccan that is committed to creating awareness about dementia and aims to develop meaningful models of care in Indian context. She has authored several publications in the field of dementia and stroke in journals that include Brain, Neurology, Stroke, Neuropsychologia and others. 

Student Trainee: Narlon Boa Sorte Silva

Mr. Boa Sorte Silva attended the Universidade Nove de Julho in São Paulo, Brazil, where he received his BSc in 2014 (Physical Education and Exercise Science). In 2015, Mr. Boa Sorte Silva engaged in the MSc program in the School of Kinesiology under supervision of Dr. Robert Petrella (Family Medicine) at Western University in London, ON, Canada. Owing to his rapid progress in the MSc program, Mr. Boa Sorte Silva was then invited to transfer to the PhD program in the same program at Western University. Mr. Boa Sorte Silva has received and/or is currently holding scholarships from the MITACS Globalink Graduate Fellowship program, the Lawson Internal Research Fund, the Western Graduate Research Scholarship, the Ontario Graduate Scholarship, and is a Co-Applicant in the Heart and Stroke Grant-In-Aid program from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

Mr. Boa Sorte Silva studies non-pharmacological interventions to improve cognitive function and reduce cardiovascular risk factors burden in older adults at risk for dementia, including:
1. Multiple-modality exercise and mind-motor training effects on global and domain-specific cognitive function, MRI structural and functional adaptations (e.g., task-based functional network connectivity) and cardiovascular heath (e.g., blood pressure, arterial thickness and compliance)
2. High-intensity interval training and mind-motor training effects on global and domain-specific cognitive function, and cardiovascular health (blood pressure, VO2max) in older adults with hypertension and subjective cognitive decline

Mr. Boa Sorte Silva is a proud member of the Canadian Association on Gerontology, the ISTAART, the Vascular Cognitive Disorders PIA, a former ISTAART Student Volunteer (2018 AAIC, Chicago, IL), and a former executive committee member of the Kinesiology Graduate Student Association, and the Exercise is Medicine initiative, both at Western University.

Student Trainee: Brittani R. Price  

 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: Deborah Gustafson, PhD
Deborah Gustafson is a Professor at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, Department of Neurology, and Director of NeuroEpidemiology. She is Guest professor at the University Skövde, School of Health and Education in Sweden. Dr. Gustafson was first to report on a relationship between overweight and obesity and risk of Alzheimer's disease in population-based studies in Sweden. Today, she explores potential mechanisms of adipose tissue, as well as vascular and metabolic factors, in relationship to cognition, neuropsychiatric disorders and brain structure in epidemiologic studies.  In Brooklyn, New York, she is mPrincipal Investigator of the Brooklyn site of the NIH-funded, multicenter Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS), for which she chairs the Aging Working Group and leads efforts in assessments of adiposity, frailty and cognition. She is mPI of the Tucson Indian Center Heart Mind Study in Southwest American Indian elder communities. In Sweden, she is a co-Investigator on AGECAP, a Swedish initiative. Deborah is the recipient of grants from the National Institutes of Health, the European Union, and the Swedish Research Council. Dr. Gustafson has over 170 peer-reviewed or invited publications. She is an Associate Editor for Alzheimer’s & Dementia (AlzDem) and the Journal of Alzheimers Disease (JAD); Chair of the Vascular Cognitive Disorders Professional Interest Area (VPIA) for ISTAART; on the Executive and 2018 Program Committees of the International Society of Vascular Behavioural and Cognitive Disorders (VasCog); member of the New York Academy of Sciences Nutrition, Dementia and Aging Working Group; and member of the New York City Regional Obesity Forum (NYCROF). Deborah received her educational training from the University of Minnesota (PhD, MS and BA), held an NIH postdoctoral fellowship in Genetic Epidemiology, received docentur in Experimental Psychiatry in Sweden and was awarded the Senior Researcher position in Psychiatric Epidemiology by the Swedish Research Council.