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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 David Knopman, M.D.

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

Career Highlights

Dr. Knopman earned his M.D. degree from the University of Minnesota (UM) Medical School, where he also completed his neurology residency. This was followed by a fellowship in behavioral neurology at Hennepin County Medical Center and UM. He was a faculty member at the University of Minnesota from 1980 to 2000. Dr. Knopman joined the Department of Neurology at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, in 2000, where he is currently professor of neurology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, a consultant in Neurology at the Mayo Clinic, and a co-investigator in the Mayo Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. His research and clinical interests have been in dementing illnesses. He is an author on more than 300 articles on various topics in dementia. Dr. Knopman is deputy editor of Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN). He was the senior author on the 2001 AAN Practice Parameter on the Diagnosis of Dementia and was co-chair of the National Institute of Aging-Alzheimer’s Association workgroup that drafted the revised criteria for Alzheimer’s disease dementia. Dr. Knopman joined the Alzheimer’s Association Medical and Scientific Advisory Council in 2012.

Vice Chair Cynthia Lemere, Ph.D.

  • Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston Massachusetts, Associate Professor, Department of Neurology, Center for Neurologic Diseases

Career Highlights

Dr. Lemere received her B.A. degree in psychology and education from Mount Holyoke College, her in neurobiology from the State University of New York at Albany, and her Ph.D. in pathology from Boston University School of Medicine. She began working as a research technician at the Center for Neurologic Diseases (CND) in the Department of Neurology at Brigham and Women's Hospital 18 years ago. A year later, she began pursuing her Ph.D. and conducted research on the temporal pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease in people with Down syndrome and APP transgenic mice in the laboratory of Dr. Dennis Selkoe. Once she completed her degree, she remained at the CND as a post-doctoral fellow and instructor, studying human brain samples from patients with presenilin 1 mutations from a large family in Medellin, Colombia. Over the past 7-8 years, much of her work has focused on developing a safe and effective amyloid-beta vaccine for the prevention or treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Her studies rely on examination of the humoral and cellular immune response as well as pathological and cognitive changes as the consequence of such vaccines in animal models. In addition, Dr. Lemere's lab studies the role of complement protein C3 in Alzheimer's disease pathogenesis and amyloid-beta clearance in the human brain and in mouse models of Alzheimer's disease. Lastly, in collaboration with colleagues at Peking Union Medical College, her lab is investigating the effects of L-NBP, a synthetic compound based upon an extract from Chinese celery seed, on memory and Alzheimer’s pathogenesis in mouse models of Alzheimer's disease.

Suzanne Craft, Ph.D.

  • Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC, Professor of Medicine and Co-Director, Roena B. Kulynych Center for Memory & Cognition Research, Research Director, Sticht Center on Aging

Career Highlights

Dr. Craft is professor of Internal Medicine, Section on Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine; Research Director of the J. Paul Sticht Center on Aging; and Co-director of the Roena B. Kulynych Center for Memory and Cognition Research at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Dr. Craft is a neuropsychologist with specialization in neuroendocrinology and neuroscience. Her research has focused on the role of neuroendocrine abnormalities in the development and expression of Alzheimer’s disease. This original line of work has garnered international attention, and Dr. Craft is recognized as a leading authority on the role of insulin metabolism in Alzheimer’s disease and aging. Her research recently has been expanded to examine the role of insulin in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s. She received a $7.9 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant in 2011 to lead a multi-center study investigating the use of intranasal insulin in individuals with mild cognitive impairment or mild Alzheimer’s dementia. It was one of two projects selected by the NIH as part of the National Alzheimer’s Plan, a federal initiative to find an effective way to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s by 2025.

Laura Gitlin, Ph.D.

  • Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, Professor, Department of Community-Public Health, School of Nursing; Director, Center for Innovative Care in Aging

Career Highlights

Laura Gitlin, Ph.D., is a professor at The Johns Hopkins University in Maryland. She is an applied research sociologist, is internationally recognized in the areas of nonpharmacologic approaches in dementia care, family caregiving, functional disability, and aging in place.

Dr. Gitlin attended Temple University for her Bachelor’s degree and completed both her Master’s degree and Doctorate degree in Sociology at Purdue University.

Dr. Gitlin is a well-funded researcher, having received continuous research and training grants from both federal agencies and private foundations, including the Alzheimer’s Association and National Institutes of Health for over 24 years. She has published numerous articles in peer-review scientific publications for international audiences. Her research includes understanding adaptive processes in old age—particularly with the use of assistive devices and environmental modifications—psycho-social-environmental approaches to helping older people with physical frailty age in place, nonpharmacologic approaches to enhancing quality of life of persons with dementia and their family caregivers, mental health disparities in older African-Americans and depression treatments, and translating and implementing evidence-based interventions for family caregivers, individuals with dementia, and older adults with functional difficulties.

Dr. Gitlin holds a joint appointment in the School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry at JHU. She leads the Center for Innovative Care in Aging, which examines issues related to developing and testing health-promoting interventions for older adults and their families and implementation science. In addition, Dr. Gitlin is a member of numerous professional organizations and recently was awarded an honorary fellowship by the American Academy of Nursing.

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

Bruce T. Lamb, Ph.D.

  • Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, Director, Stark Neurosciences Research Institute

Career Highlights

Dr. Lamb received his bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College and his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania prior to a post-doctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins University. In 1996, Dr. Lamb was recruited to Case Western Reserve University, where he rose from Assistant to Associate Professor. He joined the Cleveland Clinic in 2005. In 2015, Dr. Lamb joined the Indiana University School of Medicine as Director of the Stark Neurosciences Research Institute. Dr. Lamb’s laboratory works on the basic science of Alzheimer’s disease, with a focus on: 1) genetic modifiers identified from mouse and human studies, 2) microglia and neuronal-microglial communication in the development and progression of Alzheimer’s pathologies; and 3) traumatic brain injury as an environmental modifier for the development of Alzheimer’s pathologies. In addition, Dr. Lamb is actively involved in advocacy for increased research funding for the disease.

Jennifer J. Manly, Ph.D.

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

Margaret Pericak-Vance, Ph.D.

  • University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL, Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Department Professor of Human Genomics and Director of the John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics

Career Highlights

A founding fellow of the American College of Medical Genetics and a board-certified Ph.D. medical geneticist, Dr. Pericak-Vance is a global leader in the genetics of common diseases. She excels at the integration of genomic and statistical technologies and their application to diseases of public health importance in general, and to neurologic diseases in particular. Her more than 500 peer-reviewed papers demonstrate outstanding productivity and establish important milestones in diseases. She has a particular interest in neurogenetic diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and multiple sclerosis, and has several active studies in neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism and Asperger disorder. Her research also is breaking ground in the genetics of eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and retinitis pigmentosa. Dr. Pericak-Vance pioneered the use of novel disease gene mapping, leading to the identification of apolipoprotein E (APOE) as the major susceptibility gene for Alzheimer disease. Her greatest contribution has been her leadership in the application of methodological innovations capitalizing on the Human Genome Project that affect not only the neurological sciences, but all of medicine.

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

Julie Schneider, M.D.

  • Rush University Medical Center and Rush Alzheimer’s disease Center, Professor of Pathology & Neurological Sciences

Career Highlights

Dr. Julie A. Schneider is a Professor of Pathology (Neuropathology) and Neurological Sciences at Rush University Medical Center and Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center. She completed her Neurology training at the University of Chicago and Neuropathology training at Emory University in Atlanta and is board certified in both specialties. Dr. Schneider has fellowship training in the neuropathology of dementia, is certified in Geriatric Neurology, and has a Master’s Degree in Clinical Research with a focus in Epidemiology. She is the Associate Director and Neuropathology Core Leader of the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center and the senior neuropathologist for the Religious Orders Study, the Rush Memory and Aging Project, and the Rush Minority Aging Research Study.

Dr. Schneider has provided peer review for over 25 journals and is on the editorial board of 2 journals; she has provided numerous grant peer reviews for the National Institutes of Health, Alzheimer’s Association, and over 5 other funding agencies. She has participated in numerous scientific and external advisory boards for academia and industry and has presented findings from her research both nationally and internationally. Dr. Schneider has extensive experience with clinical-pathologic epidemiologic studies of aging and dementia and has over 200 peer-reviewed publications and four book chapters to her credit. She also has extensive experience collaborating with a diverse range of researchers, participating in multicenter grants and initiatives, and actively engaging in partnerships with industry to advance science.

Dr. Schneider’s research focuses on pathologic factors in the clinical expression of cognitive and motor decline in aging. Her work specifically focuses on (1) Alzheimer’s and mixed pathologies (2) vascular pathologies (3) TDP-43 and hippocampal sclerosis pathologies and their role in transitions from normality to Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and motor impairment, and (4) the use of pathologic endophenotypes to link risk factors (e.g., genetic, diet and lifestyle, neurobehavioral, and health- related), neuroimaging and peripheral biomarkers, and other biochemical/molecular factors to impairment and resilience.

Kristine Yaffe, M.D.

  • University of California, San Francisco, and San Francisco Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center, Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Epidemiology and Biostatistics at UCSF, Vice Chair of Clinical and Translational Research in the Department of Psychiatry, Roy and Marie Scola Endowed Chair in Psychiatry

Career Highlights

Dr. Yaffe is dually trained in neurology and psychiatry and completed postdoctoral training in epidemiology and geriatric psychiatry, all at UCSF. Dr. Yaffe serves as the director of the UCSF Dementia Epidemiology Research Group, which conducts research relating to cognitive function and dementia in aging populations throughout the United States. A primary focus of the group is determining predictors and outcomes of cognitive decline and dementia in older adults. Dr. Yaffe is also the principal investigator (PI) of the data core for the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at UCSF. In addition to her positions at UCSF, Dr. Yaffe is the chief of geriatric psychiatry and the director of the Memory Disorders Clinic at the San Francisco Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center. In addition to her research and clinical work, Dr. Yaffe has greatly contributed to training fellows and faculty in clinical research, career development and mentorship. Dr. Yaffe currently holds several National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense and foundation grants. The PI’s grants examine topics including how depressive symptoms among elderly women are associated with cognitive and functional decline over the long term; cognitive decline among patients with chronic renal insufficiency; and how sleep dysfunction is associated with cognitive impairment; and predictors and outcomes of cognitive trajectories in the oldest old. Dr. Yaffe’s research has been published in more than 200 peer-reviewed research articles in such prestigious journals at JAMA, BMJ, New England Journal of Medicine, Archives of General Psychiatry and Annals of Neurology.

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,
    Chief Science Officer

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 $335 million to more than 2,250 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, Medical and Scientific Relations

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.

James A. Hendrix, Ph.D.

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

Career Highlights

As a member of Medical and Scientific Relations Division, Dr. Hendrix provides leadership on specific domestic and international efforts to advance the science agenda for the division. Critical elements of his role include managing industry consortia such as the Alzheimer’s Association Research Roundtable, leading the Global Biomarker Standardization Consortium, and assisting with the coordination of National Alzheimer’s Plan efforts on behalf of Medical and Scientific Relations. Dr. Hendrix earned his Ph.D. degree from Colorado State University, where he also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in organic chemistry. Before joining the Alzheimer’s Association, Dr. Hendrix was a pharmaceutical scientist with a focus on medicinal chemistry and drug discovery for central nervous system (CNS) diseases. Dr. Hendrix spent 18 years at Sanofi-Aventis and predecessor companies, where he rose to the level of Senior Director, U.S. Site Head for CNS Research. During his tenure at Sanofi-Aventis, Dr. Hendrix led teams and groups that advanced two compounds into the clinic (to date) and 13 compounds into pre-clinical development. These teams and groups also identified 23 chemical series for compound optimization. Dr. Hendrix spent 2 years in the biotechnology industry with various companies including Oligomerix, whose research focuses on tau-based therapies for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Hendrix is a co-author on numerous publications and patents focused on treatments for CNS diseases.

Heather M. Snyder, Ph.D.

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

Career Highlights

Dr. Snyder is Senior Director of Medical and Scientific Operations at the Alzheimer’s Association. She manages the Alzheimer's Association International Research Grant Program, the mechanism through which the Association funds research applications. In addition to ensuring the smooth review of applications and distribution of awards to successful applicants, she is responsible for the dissemination of results and ongoing investigations to a wide range of audiences.

She oversees the Association’s relationship with the leading disease journal in clinical neurology, Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, and its companion open access journals Alzheimer's & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring and Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions.

Dr. Snyder is responsible for a number of specific research initiatives to further understand the underlying biology of Alzheimer’s, including the Alzheimer’s Association Women’s Alzheimer’s Research Initiative to explore the link between gender and vulnerability to Alzheimer's, and efforts to understand the role of vascular factors – including heart disease and stroke-related disorders – in Alzheimer's and dementia.

Dr. Snyder manages a collaborative project with the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health to develop an International Alzheimer’s Disease Research Portfolio – using a common language to describe funded research to enable the integration and comparative analysis of Alzheimer’s research funding from public and private organizations from around the world – that engages over 30 research funding agencies around the world.

Dr. Snyder received her Ph.D. from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and her bachelor’s degree in Biology and Religious Studies from The University of Virginia. Since graduating from Stritch, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Neurobiology Program at Children’s Memorial Research Center, affiliated with Northwestern University, in Chicago, and has published numerous scientific publications.

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.