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: Fanny Elahi, MD, PhD
Fanny Elahi is a clinician-scientist with training in neurology, fellowship in neurodegenerative disorders, and doctorate in neurogenetics. She is an Assistant Professor of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco, Memory and Aging Center, where she evaluates and treats patients with brain degenerative disorders and conducts research on vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia.

The Elahi lab uses a multi-modal approach, combining fluid biomarkers, deep clinical phenotyping, with brain and retinal imaging to investigate immuno-vascular contributions to neurodegenerative disease. A special emphasis of the lab is on the development of novel plasma and exosome-based biomarkers for vascular cognitive impairment and dementia (VCID). The goal is to improve diagnostic accuracy and capture early disease stages when therapies are most impactful. A set of exosome-based biomarkers for immuno-vascular dysregulation are currently being validated in MarkVCID, the NIH/NINDS funded consortium for the discovery of biomarkers of VCID, with the goal of developing clinical trial-ready biomarkers for VCID. 

Work in the Elahi lab is driven by the perspective that impactful discoveries and therapeutic interventions will emerge from synergistic expertise across academic disciplines and industry. Therefore, in light of the highly interdisciplinary nature of VCID research and the critical importance of validation of biomarkers, the Elahi lab partakes in multi-site studies and works closely with industry partners to develop new tools for more accurate quantification of disease and improved understanding of therapeutically targetable pathways in VCID.

Programs Chair: Claudia Satizabal, PhD
Claudia Satizabal is an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center and the Alzheimer’s Biggs Institute in San Antonio, and a Framingham Heart Study investigator. She has a broad interest to uncover the life-course and genetic factors influencing stroke, cognitive decline, and dementia. Her research has explored the role of circulating inflammatory markers, growth factors, and fatty acids in the burden of covert cerebrovascular disease and stroke, and dementia trends. As part of the MarkVCID consortium, she is actively involved in the identification and validation of biomarkers for vascular cognitive impairment and dementia. Claudia is part of several national and international collaborations to identify genetic determinants for stroke, neuroimaging markers of brain aging and small vessel disease, and dementia. Prior to joining the Biggs Institute, Claudia spent five years at Boston University where she started as a post-doc. She obtained a doctoral degree in Neuro-Epidemiology from the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris, and a Master’s degree in Epidemiology from Utrecht University.


Communications Chair: Whitney Wharton, PhD

I am a cognitive neuroscientist and clinical Investigator with expertise in the influence vascular risk factors and preclinical AD biomarkers in ‘at risk’ populations including individuals with a family history of AD, women, African Americans and the LGBT community. My research aims to understand the mechanisms that contribute to AD risk, in individuals most likely to be affected by AD directly via brain changes, and also individuals caring for those affected by AD. Toward this end, I design mechanism driven - lifestyle and pharmaceutical interventions targeting modifiable risk factors, in hopes of reducing AD risk factors, via novel interventions (art, Tango dance, hormone therapy, repurposing antihypertensives, adapting existing educational interventions to be applicable to underserved communities). Most studies enroll only, or an overrepresentation of African American women. I was a recipient of the NIA K01 Career Development award, which showed different AD biomarker levels (t-tau and ptau) as well as CSF and peripheral inflammation between middle-age, African Americans and whites with a parental history of AD and recently was awarded another R01, which will expand on our existing cohorts and biobanks of CSF, blood, and collect cognitive and sleep data over 2 years, in African American and white women with a parental history of AD. I have ample experience and expertise in enrolling underrepresented and minority populations into clinical research involving lumbar punctures, MRI and study medications. I am the Co-Leader of the Emory ADRC ORE Core and Co-Investigator of the Emory ADRC Minority Engagement Core (MEC). 

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/Postdoc Trainee: Narlon Boa Sorte Silva, PhD

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/Postdoc Trainee: Brittani R. Price, PhD  

 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.