Dr. David Loewenstein is the Director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience and Aging and Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences for the University of Miami School of Medicine. He is a board-certified clinical neuropsychologist and Director of the Division of Neuropsychology. Previously, Dr. Loewenstein served as Director of Neuropsychology Laboratories and Research at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, FL and Chief of Psychology for Jackson Memorial Hospital. He has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health at the University of Miami for more than 25 years and has brought in over 21 million dollars in Federal and State grants. His work is regularly published in top scientific journals and is considered cutting-edge. Dr. Loewenstein’s laboratory has a long history in the development of innovative cognitive and neuropsychological instruments and examining their relationship with biomarkers of brain health (amyloid and tau PET scans and CSF, MRI, fMRI). Dr. Loewenstein developed the first scale for the direct assessment of functional capacity in Alzheimer’s disease which has been translated into numerous languages. Most recently, Dr. Loewenstein and associates developed the Loewenstein and Acevedo Scales for Semantic Interference and Learning (LASSI-L), a cognitive stress test to address the concern that current neuropsychological measures may not capture the earliest stage of Alzheimer’s disease. The LASSI-L is a sensitive marker of the early manifestations of AD and has been increasingly adapted by other laboratories.
Dr. Blanton received her PhD in Human Genetics from Virginia Commonwealth University/Medical College of Virginia. She obtained post-doctoral training in Biostatistics (University of Pittsburgh) and Population Oncology (Fox Chase Cancer Center). Her primary research has focused on the mapping of genes for Mendelian and complex diseases; she has been instrumental in studies identifying over twenty genes/loci for Mendelian disorders. Stroke and the underlying genetics of its risk factors, deafness, retinal diseases, skeletal dysplasias, cleft lip/palate, and clubfoot are among the diseases which she currently studies. She collaborates with Drs. Sacco, Wright and Rundek to identify genetic factors influencing white matter and cognition and their relation to ageing. In addition, she has been involved in developing and implementing genetic education materials for Federal and appellate level judges and science writers in an ELSI sponsored project. Dr. Blanton is the Executive Director of the Hussman Institute for Human Genomics as well as the Associate Director of Communications and Compliance. She is an Associate Professor in the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Department of Human Genetics.
Dr. Elizabeth Crocco received her MD from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School/Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey. She then completed her residency training in general psychiatry at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. She specializes in geriatric psychiatry, and completed her fellowship at University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital. Dr. Crocco is currently the Chief of Geriatric Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Miller School of Medicine. As the Medical Director of the University of Miami Memory Disorder Clinic, within the University of Miami’s Center on Aging she oversees the coordination of clinical services at the MDC. As a clinical scientist she also participates in research on caregiving and the development of measures to diagnosis MCI and PRE-MCI. She also serves as the geriatric psychiatry training director at Jackson Memorial Hospital and facilitates the primary training and supervision of all geriatric psychiatry fellows, psychiatry residents, medical students and other physicians/health care professionals.
Dr. Dong is Research Associate Professor of Neurology and Biostatistician for the McKnight Brain Institute. Dr. Dong’s research focus is on the independent and interactive effects of social-demographic, environmental, behavioral, metabolic and genetic factors on the risk of complex diseases such as metabolic disorders, depression, cognition, drug response to clinical treatment, subclinical and clinical cardiovascular diseases. He is a member of the American Heart Association, the American Statistical Association, the International Genetic Epidemiology Society and the American Association of Human Genetics.
Sarah Getz, PhD, is an instructor in the Division of Neuropsychology, in the Department of Neurology of the University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine. Dr. Getz earned her doctorate in psychology with a specialization in cognitive neuroscience at Princeton University in 2013. Her dissertation research focused on the role of cognitive control in decision making processes. She completed her clinical training in Boston, including advanced externships at Harvard Medical School, and her clinical internship at the Miami VA Medical Center. Current lines of clinical research include investigations into the role of lifetime emotional factors in developing the frailty syndrome as well as cognitive and socio-affective correlates of scam susceptibility and deception. Current efforts are focused on screening measures and primary interventions to reduce deception among vulnerable elderly. [/av_textblock]
Dr. Kaur was born and raised in Singapore. She moved to the United States to earn a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. She completed her internship in Clinical Psychology with a specialization in neuropsychology at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship in clinical neuropsychology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. She currently serves as an Instructor in the Division of Neuropsychology and Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
She conducts neuropsychological assessments for a range of neurological and psychiatric populations including but not limited to pre-and post-neurosurgery evaluations, cardiovascular disease and stroke, epilepsy, autoimmune conditions, movement disorders and dementias. She is trained in cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia and is interested in applying therapeutic techniques to treat poor sleep in a range of neurological conditions.
Dr. Kaur’s research focuses on mechanistic pathways that mediate cognitive impairment in aging. She has a special interest in examining the impact of lifestyle interventions (e.g. exercise, sleep) on markers of disease progression in a variety of neurodegenerative processes.
Dr. McInerney’s research focuses on intervention and rehabilitation strategies for neurologically compromised individuals along with the understanding and promotion of healthy aging. She is currently engaged in research examining neuropsychological and affective changes associated with frailty in older age and the effect of moderate and high intensity exercise on sedentary individuals. Additionally, she is involved in several studies examining decision making, including identifying markers of competency in healthy cognitive aging. She is working on a screening questionnaire to assess financial and medical capacity in Hispanic and non-Hispanic individuals with mild cognitive impairment and the oldest old. Her prior research focused on the neurocognitive correlates of hazard perception and probabilistic learning in healthy aging older adults.
Dr. McIntosh’s work broadly examines risk factors associated with accelerated cognitive aging in chronic disease populations. His previous work addressed how cognitive-emotional impairment impacts disease management amongst persons living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Currently, Dr. McIntosh utilizes functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to focus on how cardiovascular disease risk factors, inflammatory-immune biomarkers and psychological distress impact the neural circuitry underpinning cognitive processes such as executive function, episodic memory and interoceptive awareness. Dr. McIntosh was recently awarded a National Institutes of Health (NHLBI) K01 award to conduct an fMRI study examining how HIV impacts the neural substrates underpinning cardio-autonomic regulation amongst HIV+ individuals at risk for developing hypertension. [/av_textblock]
A major emphasis in our group is directed towards understanding the mechanisms of neuroprotection by ischemic preconditioning (IPC) against cerebral ischemia (as elicited by a stroke or cardiac arrest). We have demonstrated in brain that IPC is mediated by two key signaling pathways. One of these pathways is a protein kinase C isozyme epsilon. Another signaling pathway involves the NAD+-dependent class III histone deacetylase SIRT1. Our laboratory is fully engaged in defining how these signaling pathways protect neurons against cell death. We are currently studying how these pathways alter synaptic plasticity and ameliorate mitochondrial function.
Another area of emphasis in our group is defining mechanisms by which some signaling pathways alter synaptic function following cardiac arrest. Cardiopulmonary arrest remains one of the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S.A. The chances of survival following cardiac arrest are poor, despite fast emergency responses and better techniques of defibrillation. Cardiac arrest with its consequent disruption of blood flow sets in motion a cascade of cellular derangements that result in brain damage.
A third area of emphasis in our group is the definition of the mechanisms of mitochondrial dysfunction following cerebral ischemia. It has been postulated that delayed cell death after brain ischemia may result from two different mechanisms: apoptosis and/or necrosis. In both pathways however, mitochondrial dysfunction appears to play a pivotal role. We are currently investigating the signaling pathways that lead to mitochondrial dysfunction following cerebral ischemia.
Milena Pinto, PhD is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology at the University of Miami, Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine.
She has more than ten years of research experience on neurodegenerative disorders, in particular on Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. She obtained her PhD in Functional genomics and Neurobiology in Italy, where she extensively worked on drug-induced and genetically modified animal models of Parkinson’s disease as well as on cellular models of dopaminergic neurons. More recently, during her postdoctoral training, she has been involved in understanding the possible neuronal-specific role of mitochondrial dysfunctions and mitochondrial DNA deletions and depletion in different mouse models of aging and neurodegenerative diseases.