As chief science officer, Maria C. Carrillo, Ph.D., sets the strategic vision for the Alzheimer’s Association global research program. Under her leadership, the Association is the world’s largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s research and an internationally recognized pioneer in convening the dementia science community to accelerate the field. As a noted public speaker, Dr. Carrillo plays an instrumental role in the Association’s efforts to lobby both the public and private sectors for increased funding for the disease.
Dr. Carrillo oversees the implementation of the Association’s growing portfolio of research initiatives, including the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference® (AAIC®), the world’s largest and most influential dementia science meeting, and the Research Roundtable, which enables international scientific, industry and government leaders to work together to overcome shared obstacles in Alzheimer’s science and drug development. In addition, Carrillo manages the World Wide Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (WW-ADNI), a multi-country research effort aimed at accelerating the early detection of Alzheimer’s.
Under Dr. Carrillo’s direction, the Association’s leadership in Alzheimer’s research continues to thrive through its International Research Grant Program, which is currently investing over $208 million in 590 active best-of-field projects in 31 countries. In addition, the Association has expanded its role in advancing dementia science by becoming directly involved in research. Dr. Carrillo is a co-primary investigator for the Association-funded and led U.S. POINTER study, a lifestyle intervention trial to prevent cognitive decline and dementia.
Dr. Carrillo has published extensively on early diagnosis and biomarker standardization efforts, as well as on the global challenges to progress for research in Alzheimer’s and dementia. She is a co-author of the “Appropriate Use Criteria for Amyloid Imaging,” published by the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging and the Alzheimer’s Association.
As an internationally respected Alzheimer’s expert, Dr. Carrillo has been featured in numerous international media outlets, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time magazine and “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt.” Dr. Carrillo sits on the governing board of the Global Brain Health Institute and is on the advisory committee for the World Health Organization Dementia Setting Priorities & Portfolio Analysis. She also is a member of the American Heart Association’s research committee.
In honor of her extensive contributions to the advance of Alzheimer’s disease clinical trials, Dr. Carrillo received the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award in Alzheimer's Disease Therapeutic Research from the Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease. In addition, she is the recipient of the 2018 Alumnae Award from Northwestern University, which recognizes an outstanding alumna who has brought honor to the university through significant contribution and national recognition in her field.
Dr. Carrillo earned her Ph.D. from Northwestern University’s Institute for Neuroscience and completed a postdoctoral fellowship focused on Alzheimer’s brain imaging and risk factors at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.