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Advisory Council

The Alzheimer's Association Medical and Scientific Advisory Council (MSAC) shapes the philosophical direction of the Alzheimer's Association research program and ensures the integrity of the peer-review process for awarding grants. Comprising leaders from the Alzheimer's and dementia research community, MSAC members are involved in identifying new developments in research that merit further study, conducting second round reviews in grant selection, and ensuring the scientific accuracy of the Association's advocacy and public education materials.

MSAC Members

Chair, Ralph A. Nixon, M.D., Ph.D.

  • New York University Langone Medical Center, New York, NY, Professor of Psychiatry and Cell Biology; Director, NYU Center of Excellence on Brain Aging; Director, Silberstein Alzheimer's Institute
  • Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, Orangeburg, NY Director, Center for Dementia Research

Career Highlights

Dr. Nixon's research interest is in regulation of protein structure and function by proteolysis and phosphorylation, cell and molecular biology of the neuronal cytoskeleton, molecular mechanisms of brain aging and cell death, and pathogenesis and treatment of Alzheimer's disease. His work led to the recent discovery of how mutation in the presenilin 1 gene causes early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Nixon has published more than 230 papers and sits on the editorial boards of multiple scientific journals.

Vice Chair, William E. Klunk, M.D., Ph.D.

  • University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa., Distinguished Professor, Department of Psychiatry, and Co-Director, Alzheimer's Disease Research Center
  • Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh, Pa., Director of the Laboratory of Molecular Neuropharmacology

Career Highlights

A distinguished expert on early detection of Alzheimer's, Dr. Klunk is known for work imaging the pathology of Alzheimer's. He was a member of the research team that developed the groundbreaking Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB), the first radiotracer capable of showing beta-amyloid in the living brain during a PET scan. He has been honored with a MERIT Award from the National Institute on Aging, the 2009 Ronald and Nancy Reagan Research Institute Award for research in Alzheimer's disease with colleague Chester A. Mathis, Ph.D., the 2008 Potamkin Prize and the 2004 MetLife Foundation Award. Dr. Klunk has published more than 100 journal articles and book chapters.

Todd E. Golde, Ph.D., M.D.

  • University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla., Director of the Center for Translational Research in Neurodegenerative Disease, Professor of Neuroscience

David Knopman, M.D.

  • Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., Department of Neurology

Jennifer J. Manly, Ph.D.

  • Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY, Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain

Eliezer Masliah, M.D.

  • UC San Diego School of Medicine, San Diego, Calif., Professor of Neuroscience and Pathology, Head of the Experimental Neuropathology Laboratory

Career Highlights

A distinguished clinical neuropathologist, Dr. Masliah, heads the Experimental Neuropathy Laboratory at the UCSD School of Medicine, where his research focuses on synaptic damage in neurodegenerative disorders and the development of new treatments, including novel gene therapies. His work has been essential to the discovery of overlap between Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's, as well as the development of transgenic animal models. Under his guidance, the Experimental Neuropathology Laboratory has made key discoveries associated with the role of a-synuclein in the pathogenesis of neurodegeneration. In addition to authoring more than 250 scientific papers, Dr. Masliah serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Neuropathology, Journal of Experimental Neurology and Journal of Laboratory Investigation, and has been a member of the Neuroscience of Aging Review Committee at the National Institutes on Aging since 1996.

Mary Sano, Ph.D.

  • Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Bronx, N.Y.

Gerard D. Schellenberg, Ph.D.

  • University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa., Perelman School of Medicine, Departments of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Yaakov Stern, Ph.D.

  • Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY, Division Leader of the Cognitive Neuroscience Division of the Sergievsky Center and Professor of Clinical Neuropsychology, Departments of Neurology, Psychiatry and Psychology, the Sergievsky Center and the Taub Institute

Career Highlights

Dr. Stern's work focuses on cognitive reserve and heterogeneity in the course of Alzheimer's disease. A widely published author, Dr. Stern has served on multiple editorial boards for scientific journals and is currently associate editor of the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society.

Linda Teri, Ph.D.

  • University of Washington School of Nursing, Seattle, Wash., Professor and Department Chair, Department of Psychosocial and Community Health; Adjunct Professor, Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry & Behavioral Science

Career Highlights

As co-investigator of the University of Washington Alzheimer's Disease Research Center and principal investigator of various NIH grants focusing on Alzheimer's and healthy aging, Dr. Teri focuses her work on:1) the ongoing development, implementation and evaluation of treatment programs for Alzheimer's disease patients and their caregivers, 2) investigating the relationship between cognitive, affective and behavioral function as it relates to disease progression and treatment, and 3) developing and evaluating training programs to increase independence and improve physical functioning in older adults. In addition to her appointment on the MSAC, she serves on four professional journal editorial boards and various NIH review committees. Dr. Teri has authored more than 200 professional publications and abstracts and co-authored three books on geropsychology.

Hui Zheng, Ph.D.

  • Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, Director, Huffington Center on Aging; Professor, Departments of Molecular and Human Genetics, Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Neuroscience.

Career Highlights

Dr. Zheng is a leading authority on amyloid precursor protein (APP) and the presenilins, two proteins involved in the APP processing pathway that produces the Alzheimer's-linked fragment beta-amyloid. Working with molecular and cellular techniques and genetically engineered mice, she has conducted field-leading explorations of the mechanisms through which rare genetic changes in APP and the presenilins cause Alzheimer's. Her work has advanced understanding of how Alzheimer's disrupts cell-to-cell signaling and contributed critical insights in the effort to develop new therapies. She has served on multiple professional advisory bodies, including the Neuroscience of Aging Review Committee and the Cellular and Molecular Biology of Neurodegeneration (CMND) Study Section at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). A widely published author, she holds associate editor positions at Molecular Neurodegeneration and Neuroscience Letters.

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Alzheimer's Association

Maria C. Carrillo, Ph.D.

  • Alzheimer's Association,
    Vice President, Medical and Scientific Relations

Career Highlights

Dr. Carrillo is a senior member of the Alzheimer's Association science staff and an Alzheimer's Association spokesperson on a wide range of medical and scientific issues. She leads the Alzheimer's Association International Research Grant Program, the world's flagship nonprofit initiative to advance Alzheimer's science. Since 1982, the Association has committed $292 million to more than 2,000 best-of-field investigators worldwide. She also leads the Alzheimer's Association Research Roundtable, a consortium of scientists from the academic world, industry and international public agencies collaborating to overcome universal barriers to progress in developing Alzheimer's treatments.

Dr. Carrillo's core areas of expertise include the emerging effort to identify biomarkers, measurable indicators of underlying physical changes linked to Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia, through brain imaging, spinal fluid protein analysis and other strategies. She coordinates Alzheimer's Association leadership of the World Wide Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (WW-ADNI), an international effort to expand the federally funded Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) to include data generated by related studies around the globe. She also spearheads Association involvement in the Biomarkers Consortium, a private-public partnership to accelerate biomarker development, and the Alzheimer's Association Quality Control Program for CSF Biomarkers, an effort to facilitate cross-institutional consistency in analyzing Alzheimer's-related spinal fluid proteins. In addition, she leads the Neuroimaging Professional Interest Area of the Alzheimer's Association International Society to Advance Alzheimer's Research and Treatment (ISTAART), the only professional society designed exclusively for individuals dedicated to Alzheimer's and dementia science.

Dr. Carrillo is among the internationally recognized authors of new Alzheimer's disease diagnostic guidelines and criteria jointly issued in 2011 by the U.S. National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the Alzheimer's Association.

Dr. Carrillo also takes a lead role in Alzheimer's Association partnerships with the Harvard NeuroDiscovery Center, the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation and the Health Research Alliance. She represents the Association on the Medical Advisory Council of Genworth Financial, a longstanding Alzheimer's Association strategic alliance partner.


Keith N. Fargo, Ph.D.

  • Alzheimer's Association,
    Director of Scientific Programs and Outreach

Career Highlights

Dr. Fargo oversees the Alzheimer’s Association TrialMatch® program, a service that connects people — those living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, their caregivers, friends and family, and other interested individuals — with ongoing clinical studies in their area. Dr. Fargo is responsible for ensuring the quality and responsiveness of TrialMatch, and for educating a wide variety of audiences about the program’s benefits and importance in the fight against Alzheimer’s.

Dr. Fargo manages the Alzheimer’s Association scientific publications, including Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association and Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. Publishing articles across a broad spectrum of basic science, clinical research, and the intersection of science and public policy, Alzheimer’s & Dementia plays a key role in shaping the landscape of international Alzheimer’s research. In Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, the Alzheimer’s Association provides an annual update on the number of people with Alzheimer’s, its cost to society, and a variety of other measures revealing the impact of the disease. Dr. Fargo is responsible for preserving the Association’s status as a premiere source of critical scientific information relating to Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

The Alzheimer’s Association International Society to Advance Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment (ISTAART) is another element of Dr. Fargo’s day-to-day responsibilities. ISTAART is the professional society of the Alzheimer’s Association, representing scientists, physicians and other professionals active in dementia research. ISTAART facilitates networking and collaboration among its members in order to increase the rate of progress of Alzheimer’s and dementia research.

Dr. Fargo received his Ph.D. from Indiana University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine. Before joining the Alzheimer’s Association, Dr. Fargo was a researcher with a focus on regenerative processes in the nervous system; he held appointments as a research scientist at the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital Rehabilitation Research & Development Program and as an assistant research professor at the Loyola University Chicago Department of Molecular Pharmacology & Therapeutics.

Dean M. Hartley, Ph.D.

  • Alzheimer's Association,
    Director of Science Initiatives, Medical and Scientific Relations

Career Highlights

Formerly on faculty at Harvard Medical School and Rush University Medical Center, Dr. Hartley represents the Association’s science division and works with the division’s senior leaders on public relations activities and scientific workgroups to advance the Association’s science agenda. Dr. Hartley has a leadership role in the Association’s research and scientific fundraising initiatives.

Before coming to the Alzheimer’s Association, Dr. Hartley was an associate professor in the Department of Neurological Sciences and conducted research at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Prior to this, he was assistant professor in the Department of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and conducted research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston.

Dr. Hartley has authored numerous publications in top scientific journals on mechanisms thought to cause neurons to become dysfunctional or die in diseases including epilepsy, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. A significant portion of his research career has focused on abnormal protein folding and how this may initiate Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, he has investigated how abnormal electrical activity may play a role in the progression of Alzheimer’s.

The co-author of several book chapters and an ad hoc reviewer and editor for more than 20 scientific journals in the field of neuroscience, Dr. Hartley has reviewed grants for the National Institutes of Health, L'Agence Nationale de la Recherché (French National Research Agency) and several other organizations.

Dr. Hartley completed postdoctoral fellowships in the Departments of Medicine, Genetics, and Neurology at Harvard Medical School after completing his Ph.D. in neuroscience at Stanford University. He has a bachelor’s degree in science and a master’s degree in environmental toxicology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Heather M. Snyder, Ph.D.

  • Alzheimer's Association,
    Director of Medical and Scientific Operations

Career Highlights

Dr. Snyder assists with oversight of the Alzheimer's Association International Research Grant Program, the world's largest nonprofit initiative to advance Alzheimer's research. Since 1982, the Association has committed $292 million to more than 2,000 best-of-field investigators worldwide. In addition to assisting with smooth review of proposals and distribution of awards to successful applicants, Dr. Snyder assumes primary responsibility for metrics and qualitative assessments to enhance the program's effectiveness and impact, and for communicating program results to a wide range of audiences. She also collaborates with the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the U.S. agency leading federally funded Alzheimer's research, to conduct an ongoing comprehensive portfolio analysis of Alzheimer's Association-supported research.

Dr. Snyder also plays a key supporting role in other Alzheimer's Association science activities, including the Association's leadership of the World Wide Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (WW-ADNI); the Alzheimer's Association Quality Control Program for CSF Biomarkers to facilitate cross-institutional consistency in analyzing Alzheimer's-related spinal fluid proteins; its Everyday Technologies for Alzheimer's Care (ETAC) grant partnership with Intel Corporation; and the Alzheimer's Association Research Roundtable. She participates in the Technology Group of the Alzheimer's Association International Society to Advance Alzheimer's Research and Treatment (ISTAART), the only professional society designed exclusively for individuals dedicated to Alzheimer's and dementia science.

After earning an undergraduate degree in biology and religious studies at the University of Virginia, Dr. Snyder moved on to graduate and postgraduate studies in Chicago, completing her Ph.D. at Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine and a postdoctoral fellowship in the neurobiology program at Children's Memorial Research Center of Northwestern University.

William H. Thies, Ph.D.

  • Alzheimer's Association,
    Senior Scientist in Residence, Medical and Scientific Relations

Career Highlights

A senior scientist and distinguished educator, Dr. Thies works with the Medical and Scientific Advisory Council to establish the overall scientific direction and key research initiatives of the Alzheimer's Association. Under his stewardship, the Alzheimer's Association International Research Grants Program has doubled and the Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC) has grown into the world's leading forum on dementia research. In addition, Dr. Thies played a key role in launching Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association and in establishing the Alzheimer's Association Research Roundtable, a consortium of senior scientists from industry, academia and government who meet regularly to share nonproprietary information and overcome common barriers to Alzheimer's drug discovery. Prior to joining the Alzheimer's Association, Dr. Thies held faculty positions at major universities. He also served at the American Heart Association, where he led establishment of a new stroke division that became the American Stroke Association. Dr. Thies is a member of the Institute of Medicine's Forum on Neuroscience and Nervous System Disorders.