October 26, 2016

AD Core Center

Taking advantage of the University of Michigan’s deep infrastructure in dementia and aging research, the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center fosters and enhances innovative research in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias toward better understanding of, and eventual preventive treatment for, these devastating diseases.

The Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center is a truly regional Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center linking three universities across the state of Michigan – University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Wayne State University in Detroit, and Michigan State University in Lansing and Grand Rapids.

Our impact as a new Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center will extend far beyond the University of Michigan campus.  The regional presence of an ADCC that formally links efforts at all three major Michigan universities will provide a critically important statewide resource for researchers, trainees, health care professionals and the broader public.

Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center Leadership

Administrative Core (AC)

Led by Director Hank Paulson, MD, PhD, the administrative core is responsible for creating and implementing structural improvements within the center while managing staffing, financial and research related resources.  The AC helps to sustain the wide range of research studies and programs supported by the MADC.

Henry Paulson, MD, PhD

Henry PaulsonADCC Director and Administrative Core Leader

 Dr. Paulson directs the MADC, working closely with MADC staff to define and implement the diverse initiatives through which the center fulfills its three-part mission. He joined the Center as Associate Director in 2009 and assumed Directorship in 2011. He has worked for more than twenty years on degenerative brain diseases, both inherited and acquired. As a neurologist and neuroscientist, Dr. Paulson is deeply committed to translating findings from the research bench to the patient bedside. Toward that goal, he is focused on building connections between scientists, clinicians and the public, not only across the University of Michigan campus but also across the state of Michigan. He received his MD and PhD degrees from Yale University School of Medicine and his Neurology training at the University of Pennsylvania.

Bruno Giordani, PhD

Associate Director and Administrative Co-Core leader

 Dr. Giordani is a Chief of Psychology, and a tenured Professor in the Psychiatry, Neurology, and Psychology Departments as well as the School of Nursing. He is a University Faculty Ombuds at the University of Michigan.  Associated with the MADC for over 25 years, Dr. Giordani has a longstanding history of connecting with the community to promote a better understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and related conditions.  He has served on the Executive Board of the Alzheimer’s Association, Michigan Great Lakes Chapter (MGLC) since 2007 and has been both its Board Chair and National Representative, as well as a Steering Committee being a member of the national Association’s Assembly Steering Committee.  His research initiatives focus on a cross-cultural perspective on the early assessment of cognitive and behavioral changes associated with medical illness and the interaction of cognition and mobility across the life-span.  Dr. Giordani completed his MA and PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Virginia and received his postdoctoral training in Clinical and Research Neuropsychology at the University of Michigan.

Nancy Laracey, BA

ADCC Administrator

Nancy oversees the MADC daily operations and is responsible for administrative, financial and human resources activities. She splits her time in providing administrative and financial management of both the Udall PD Center of Excellence for Parkinson’s Disease Research and the MADC. Nancy earned her BA degree from Michigan State University. She has an outstanding record of service, having dedicated over twenty-five years of her career to the University of Michigan in various positions in the Medical School.

Arijit Bhaumik, BA, CCRP

ADCC Research Administrator

 Arijit is the MADC’s Research Administrator. He has over 10 years experience managing neurodegenerative clinical trials and longitudinal research projects at the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center. Ari's expertise lies in clinical research protocol management and working with cross-generation populations. He has a deep understanding of highly intricate grants that involve multiple investigators at multiple universities, complex budgets, and multiple sub-awards. Ari possesses all of these skills and is recognized by his peers for his ability to bridge the gap between research budgeting, research operations planning and execution of the research strategy at the MADC. He is an excellent communicator, emphasizing creative and dynamic strategies for multicultural, cross-generational and multipurpose understanding of research within our Center. Ari is a key driver of our Center’s goals. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Clinical Psychology and Counseling at Richmond University, London, UK, and studied Cognitive Psychology at the post-baccalaureate level at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He is also a Certified Clinical Research Professional (SoCRA).

Clinical Core (CC)

The clinical core, led by Benjamin Hampstead, PhD, Judy Heidebrink, MD and Bruno Giordani, PhD, oversees the wide range of research studies supported by the MADC and creates new opportunities for innovative and cutting edge research. There are currently 23 funded studies and this number is expected to increase. The CC works with the DMSC and OR Core to develop materials for research dissemination into everyday patient care.

Benjamin Hampstead, PhD, ABPP/CN

Clinical Core Leader

Dr. Hampstead joined the U-M faculty in September 2014 as an Associate Professor in Psychiatry and Staff Neuropsychologist in the Ann Arbor VA Healthcare System. He is the Clinical Core Leader at the MADC.  Dr. Hampstead is an expert in functional imaging and nonpharmacological approaches to enhance age-related memory function (e.g., cognitive rehabilitation and direct brain stimulation). Through his appointment in the Ann Arbor VA Healthcare System, he is well-positioned to ensure that our older veterans have access to cutting-edge research and clinical procedures.

Judith Heidebrink, MD, MS

Clinical Co-Core Leader

 Dr. Heidebrink is a Richard D. and Katherine M. O’Connor Research Professor and has been affiliated with the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center since 1995, when she began her fellowship training in Geriatric Neurology.  Her clinical and research interests focus on improving the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.  Dr. Heidebrink leads the University of Michigan’s participation in the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI).  This landmark study uses brain imaging and other biomarkers to evaluate the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.  ADNI data support the belief that brain changes occur many years before symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease emerge.  ADNI techniques will soon be used to identify persons with very early Alzheimer’s pathology, in order to study therapies that might halt the disease even before symptoms appear.  Judy attended medical school at the University of Texas Southwestern and received her Neurology training at the University of Michigan.

Bruno Giordani, PhD

Core Co-Leader

Associated with the MADC for over 25 years, Dr. Giordani has a longstanding history of connecting with the community to promote a better understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and related conditions.  He is the Chief of Psychology, and a tenured Professor in the Psychiatry, Neurology, and Psychology Departments as well as the School of Nursing.  He is a University Faculty Ombuds at the University of Michigan.  He has served on the Executive Board of the Alzheimer’s Association, Michigan Great Lakes Chapter (MGLC) since 2007 and has been both its Board Chair and National Representative, as well as a Steering Committee being a member of the national Association’s Assembly Steering Committee.  His research initiatives focus on a cross-cultural perspective on the early assessment of cognitive and behavioral changes associated with medical illness and the interaction of cognition and mobility across the life-span.  Dr. Giordani completed his MA and PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Virginia and received his postdoctoral training in Clinical and Research Neuropsychology at the University of Michigan.

Andrea Bozoki, MD



Dr. Andrea Bozoki is an Associate Professor in the Department of Neurology and Department of Radiology at Michigan State University. The focus of her individual scholarship has been the exploration of cognitive function during the transition between healthy aging and early dementia. In particular, she is interested in the structure-function relationships underlying the evolution of de novo Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as understanding what factors can prevent or allay cognitive decline during aging. Her work has utilized primarily neuropsychometric testing along with functional and structural MR imaging. More recently, she has included amyloid and FDG-PET data to examine the relative advantages of using a broader multi-modal imaging approach to biomarker development.

E. Mark Haacke, PhD


Dr. Haacke is an original pioneer of MR angiographic imaging, fast imaging and cardiovascular imaging, and more recently has developed a powerful new method for imaging veins, micro-hemorrhaging and iron called Susceptibility Weighted Imaging (SWI). His research has focused on studying the role of magnetic field variations in the human body and applying the results to clinical translational research. SWI may in fact become an important biomarker not just for different forms of iron but in investigating the etiology of a number of key diseases such as aging, multiple sclerosis, stroke and trauma. More recently his work has focused on extending SWI to quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM) as a means to map iron and oxygen saturation.

Carol Persad, PhD, ABPP



Dr. Persad is the Director of the Neuropsychology Clinic at the University of Michigan. This clinic conducts neuropsychological assessments on over 3,000 patents a year with a range of medical, psychiatric and neurological disorders across the lifespan, and houses a large accredited postdoctoral fellowship training program.

Charles Burant, MD, PhD


Dr. Burant directs a research program that integrates molecular phenotyping (including metabolomics) with dietary, clinical and behavioral phenotypes to understand the development of obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes. He has a specific interest in intermediary metabolism and he has integrated metabolomics with other technologies to gain a more complete understanding of cellular metabolism. Dr. Burant directs the Michigan Regional Comprehensive Metabolomics Resource Core (U24), which is one of six NIH-funded metabolomics centers. At the MADC, he provides advice on the use of metabolomics profiling to gain insights into the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative diseases and the potential relationship to metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes and other metabolic states.

David Burke, PhD


David Burke, PhD, is a Professor of Human Genetics and a Clinical Core Consultant for the MADC. His research interests include the development of low cost, single nucleotide variant DNA and RNA testing methods which are employed by the MADC in genetic risk factor assessment. The robust methods are currently used in the laboratory to perform over ten thousand human, mouse, viral and bacterial SNP genotypes per year.

Gulin Oz, PhD


Dr. Gülin Öz is an associate professor in the Department of Radiology who specializes in magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). Dr. Oz graduated from Bosphorus University in Istanbul, Turkey with BS degrees in Physics and Chemistry and obtained her PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Minnesota. She continued with postdoctoral training at the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) where she joined the faculty as assistant professor in 2006. Here she also served as the MR Core Director of the General Clinical Research Center (GCRC) from 2005-2009.

Stephen Campbell, LLMSW

Research Coordinator

Stephen aids in the process of helping potential volunteers find a study best suited to their needs and interests.  He is most interested in providing ongoing support to research volunteers to help them locate resources in a timely and efficient manner.  He earned his Master’s degree in Social Work and Graduate Certificate in Gerontology at Eastern Michigan University.

Sarah Shair, MA

Research Coordinator

Sarah administers and scores the neuropsychological assessments for the Memory and Aging Project. In addition, she assists in managing the daily operations of ongoing research studies and participates in outreach and education activities. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Michigan and her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Wayne State

Data Management and Statistical Core (DMSC)

The Data Management and Statistics Core, led by Hiroko Dodge, PhD and Ivo Dinov, PhD,  helps maintain the productivity of the MADC by connecting all of the Cores, integrating data and helping to disseminate data to investigators. The DMSC will focus on predictive Big Data analytics, taking advantage of the unique investigators and infrastructures available at the University of Michigan.

Hiroko Dodge, PhD

hiroko4Core Leader

Dr. Dodge is the Milton and Carolyn Kevreson Research Professor of Neurology in the University of Michigan Department of Neurology. She is a Fellow in the Gerontological Society of America (GSA). She serves as a statistical editor for Alzheimer’s & Dementia (the official journal of the Alzheimer’s Association) and a senior associate editor for Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Translational Research and Clinical Advancements, a sister journal of Alzheimer’s & Dementia. She also serves on the statistical editorial board for International Psychogeriatrics. Dr. Dodge joined the MADC as the Data Core Leader in 2010. She has been successfully directing two Alzheimer’s Disease Centers’ Biostatistics and Data Cores: the Michigan ADC and the NIA-funded Layton Aging and ADC at Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon. These dual positions allow her to facilitate collaborations between the two centers. Dr. Dodge’s research interests are diverse and include a) distinguishing normal cognitive aging from pathological cognitive decline, b) testing whether stimulation through social interactions can improve cognitive functions, c) clinical trial methods, and d) examining lifestyle and environmental factors that lead to healthy cognitive aging. A native of Japan, she has a longitudinal cohort in Okinawa, Japan and collaborates with the Okinawa Centenarian Study group. To read more about Dr. Dodge, click HERE.

Ivo Dinov, PhD

Core Co-Leader

Ivo Dinov, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Health Systems and Bioinformatics at the University of Michigan. He is also the Director of the National Statistics Online Computational Resource (SOCR). Dr. Dinov is an expert on statistical computing, high-throughput data analytics, analysis of high dimensional imaging datasets, and health science and STEM education. At the MADC, Dr. Dinov will assist in data analytics and statistical modeling efforts. He will also provide expertise in fusion of neuroimaging, clinical, phenotypic and genetics data.

Yuanfang Guan, PhD


Dr. Guan is Assistant Professor in the Department of Computational Medicine & Bioinformatics at the University of Michigan. She received her PhD training in functional genomics at Princeton University followed by a brief postdoctoral fellowship, also at Princeton. In 2011, she joined the University of Michigan where her research as an independent investigator focused on developing generic, first-principle computational solutions to large-scale biomedical data. She has created seven best-performing algorithms in the past three years, breaking the record of DREAM’s (Dialogue of Reverse Engineering and Methods) 10 years of history. She has best-performing algorithms in areas such as population genetics, DNA variation, transcriptome data, proteomic data, medical imaging, biochemical structures, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and most notably, Alzheimer’s Disease and cognitive impairment.

Jieping Ye, PhD


Dr. Ye is an Associate Professor of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics at the University of Michigan. For the last thirteen years, he has been conducting fundamental research in machine learning and data mining, developing computational methods for biomedical data analysis, and building informatics software. He leads the development of the SLEP (Sparse Learning with Efficient Projections) package, which includes implementations of large-scale sparse learning models, and the MALSAR (Multi-tAsk Learning via StructurAl Regularization) package, which includes implementations of state-of-the-art multi-task learning models. Currently, there are about 4,500 active users from over 25 different countries. With close collaboration with researchers at the biomedical field, he has successfully applied these methods for analyzing biomedical data, including clinical image data and genotype data from Alzheimer’s patients.

Jenna Wiens, PhD


Dr. Wiens is an Assistant Professor in Computer Science Engineering (CSE) at the University of Michigan. She currently heads the MLD3 research group. Her primary research interests lie at the intersection of machine learning and healthcare. The overarching goal of her research agenda is to develop the computational methods needed to help organize, process, and transform data into actionable knowledge.

Sherry Teboe

Data Manager

Sherry has made her career at the University of Michigan for over thirty years and has been a vital member of the MADC team for more than twenty of those years.  Sherry is involved in creating the secure data entry system.  She ensures that all data collected from MADC supported studies remain confidential and ready for analysis by research investigators who are interested in enhancing our understanding of memory loss and dementia.  She is very interested in spending time with the elderly to grow from their years of wisdom and their wonderful sense of humor.

Neuropathology Core (NC)

The Neuropathology Core helps to maintain the UM Brain bank and the Protein Folding Diseases Initiative. The NC is a team of experts with distinctive research strength that enables them to serve as excellent mentors.  Resources from the NC foster studies of the underlying proteinopathies of dementias with the goal of translating discoveries into new therapeutic strategies. Andrew Leiberman, MD, PhD serves as core leader of the NC, with Scott Counts, PhD as the MSU liaison for building Brain Bank resources in western Michigan. Additional investigators are Sami Barmada, MD, PhD, and Peter Todd, MD, PhD.

Andrew Lieberman, MD, PhD

Neuropathology Core Leader

Dr. Lieberman is MADC Neuropathology Core Leader, Abrams Collegiate Professor of Pathology, and Director of Neuropathology at the University of Michigan.  He is internationally known for his research on the mechanism of inherited degenerative brain disorders.  He is passionate about understanding how brain cells “handle” the abnormal proteins that accumulate in so many brain diseases including the dementias, so that we can design rational approaches to therapy.  Dr. Lieberman received his MD and PhD degrees from the University of Maryland Medical School, and completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology and fellowship training in Neuropathology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Sami Barmada, MD, PhD


Dr. Barmada currently serves as Associate Professor of Neurology at the University of Michigan. He was recruited from UCSF to the University of Michigan in 2013.  Dr. Barmada divides his time between the laboratory, Cognitive Disorders Program, and the classroom.  In his investigations of molecular mechanisms in FTD including TDP43 proteinopathies, Dr. Barmada employs automated microscopy.  He treats patients in the Cognitive Disorders Program, with an emphasis on individuals with dementia and motor neuron disease.  Dr. Barmada is also an Assistant Professor of Neurology.

Scott Counts, PhD



Dr. Counts is an Associate Professor of Translational Science & Molecular Medicine at Michigan State University. The goal of his research is to understand the molecular pathogenic mechanisms of selective neuronal vulnerability in the preclinical and prodromal stages of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). His pre-doctoral training with Dr. Allan Levey at Emory emphasized the importance of combining carefully controlled human tissue research with cellular and molecular modeling to reveal potential pathways underlying AD progression. He is the MSU liaison for the UM ADC Neuropathology Core and Brain Bank. His duties include generating awareness and providing training to MSU investigators in the procurement and use of postmortem tissue and bio-specimens from UM for dementia research. He also serves as the MSU representative to the Brain Bank Tissue Request Committee.

Vikram Shakkottai, MD, PhD


Dr. Vikram Shakkottai is an Assistant Professor of Neurology at the University of Michigan School of Medicine.  He is currently the director of the Michigan Brain Bank. He received his MBBS from Christian Medical College in Vellor, Tamil Nadu, India and completed his residency at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. His interests include investigating changes in cerebellar physiology in ataxic disorders and determining whether ion channel modulators have a role in the treatment of movement disorders.

Peter Todd, MD, PhD

Location portraits of Roman Giger, Dr. Ken Casey, Dr. Peter Todd, Dr. William Dauer, Sokol Todi, Dr. Tiffany Braley, Dr. Daniel Leventhal, Dr. Vikram Shokkotai, and Edgar Rodriguez in the BSRB (atrium and fourth floor Paulson lab) on 12/16/09.


An Assistant Professor of Neurology and the Bucky and Patti Harris Collegiate Professor in Alzheimer’s disease at the University of Michigan, Dr. Todd explores the molecular mechanisms in neurodegenerative diseases with a particular interest in repeat expansion diseases such as the recently discovered C9ORF72 expansion underlying frontotemporal dementia. Dr. Todd is also a staff neurologist at the Ann Arbor VA Medical Center. He has worked in the field of Fragile X research for almost 20 years.

Matthew Perkins, BS

Brain Bank Coordinator

Matthew Perkins is the coordinator of the Michigan Brain Bank. He has been involved in research, specifically research of movement disorders, for over two years. Matthew coordinates the MADC’s brain autopsy services and collaborates with research groups across the University of Michigan campus. He is passionate about improving clinical care and research through his involvement in autopsy services. Matthew earned his Bachelor of Science in Brain, Behavior, and Cognitive Science from the University of Michigan.  For more information about the Michigan Brain Bank, visit the website.

Outreach and Recruitment Core (OR)

The Outreach and Recruitment Core leads education and outreach efforts in order to promote community participation in MADC research and educational activities. The OR Core, led by Scott Roberts, PhD, helps to maintain successful relationships with community partners across the state. Joan Ilardo, PhD of MSU and Nan Barbas, MD, MSW serve as OR Core Co-Investigators.

Scott Roberts, PhD

scott_robertsCore Leader

Scott Roberts, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Health Behavior and Health Education at the U-M School of Public Health, where he directs its certificate program in Public Health Genetics and co-directs a dual master’s degree program in Public Health and Genetic Counseling. Dr. Roberts conducts research related to health education and support services in AD and has served since 2001 as Co-PI of the NIH-funded REVEAL Study, a NIH-funded series of randomized clinical trials evaluating the impact of disclosing genetic risk information to individuals with a family history of AD. Prior to coming to U-M, Dr. Roberts served as Co-Director of the Education Core in the NIA-funded Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center. He now directs the MADC Outreach, Recruitment and Education Core.

Nancy Barbas, MD, MSW


Associated with the MADC for many years, Dr. Barbas is Associate Professor of Neurology and Director of the Cognitive Disorders Clinic at the University of Michigan Health System. She has been on the faculty of University of Michigan Medical School and Health System since 1991.  Dr. Barbas’s clinical interests include cognitive disorders in adults, such as Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, and general geriatric neurology. She is active in clinical trial research for treatment development for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. She actively trains the next generation of professionals, teaching them state-of-art dementia care techniques and research skills.  She has published articles and chapters on dementia topics. Nan has spent the majority of her years in higher education in Ann Arbor, Michigan obtaining Bachelors of Arts (BA), Masters in Social Work (MSW), and Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degrees from the University of Michigan. She continued her training at Tufts New England Medical Center in Boston completing a Neurology Residency and a Neuro-ophthalmology Fellowship.

Joan Ilardo, PhD


Dr. Ilardo is the Director of the Research Initiatives at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine’s Office of Research and the Co-Director of the Geriatric Education Center of Michigan. As the Executive Director of the Michigan Aging Education Collaborative she interacts with all the major players in the aging network throughout Michigan on a regular basis. She currently has a leadership role in several statewide initiatives related to sustaining and scaling up evidenced-based educational programs in self-management (Stanford CDSMP model), caregiver training (dementia), and advance care planning. As a member of the Michigan Commission on Services to the Aging, she serves on a 15-member commission that oversees Michigan’s implementation of the Older Americans Act through the state aging unit (Michigan Aging and Adult Services Agency) and has access to government officials and legislators involved in aging policy and services in Michigan.

Edna Rose, PhD, MSW, RN-BC

Minority Recruitment Specialist

Since 2008, Dr. Rose has assisted the MADC with connecting to minority communities to provide education about the risk factors associated with dementia and the benefits of participating in research.  She has successfully enhanced minority inclusion in our MADC supported studies through linkages at local churches, sororities and other social organizations.  Dr. Rose received her MSW and PhD from Clark Atlanta University in Social Work Planning and Administration, and her undergraduate nursing degree from Kennesaw University in Atlanta, GA.

Laura Rice-Oeschger, LMSW

Wellness Coordinator

Since 2012, Laura has lead the Wellness Initiative for the MADC where she designs, implements and evaluates well-being and mindfulness-based programming for caregivers and adults living with dementia. Moved by family experiences with long-term illness and memory loss, Laura has worked in dementia care since 1994 in a variety of capacities.  She was the first Director of the University of Michigan Geriatrics Center Silver Club Memory Loss Programs prior to serving as clinical manager of the Early Stage Initiative for the Los Angeles regional Alzheimer’s Association.   She is a national and state presenter on memory loss and caregiver well-being and holds advanced professional certifications in aging, dementia and contemplative clinical care. Laura received her MSW from the University of Michigan School of Social Work.

Renee Gadwa, BS, MBA

Program Coordinator

Renee is responsible for assisting in the planning and implementation of Core activities at the MADC and in the community.  She is responsible for providing education and support for those with dementia, maintaining the MADC blog and other social media outlets, recruiting for MADC supported studies, and exploring opportunities for programs that blend education and wellness.  Renee has nearly ten years of experience in dementia care, education, and support in the long term care setting.  She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Health Science with a minor in Psychology from Grand Valley State University and her MBA in Healthcare Management from Southern New Hampshire University.

Erin Mobley, MSW, MPH

Program Coordinator

Erin Mobley has been with the MADC for two years, beginning as a Public Health intern and now as the Community Outreach and Recruitment Coordinator. Erin graduated with a MPH/MSW from the University of Michigan as a part of the Geriatric Scholarship program. Erin is responsible for assisting in the planning and implementation of Core activities at the MADC and in the community.  She is responsible for providing education and support for those with dementia, recruiting for MADC supported studies, exploring opportunities for programs that blend education and wellness and coordinating REC Core programming.

Research Education Component Core (REC)

Led by Roger Albin, MD, and Co-led by Peter Lichtenberg, PhD, ABPP, the Research Education Component Core is dedicated to training and mentoring junior investigators. The REC Core hopes to foster career development in interdisciplinary dementia research and has developed a curriculum to educate junior investigators on dementia and dementia research.

Roger Albin, MD

Research Education Component Core Leader

Associated with the MADC as the Research Education Component Core Leader, Dr. Albin is a Professor of Neurology at the University of Michigan. He held the title of Brain Bank Director at the University of Michigan from 1998 through January of 2016. In addition to caring for patients with cognitive disorders, he studies basic disease mechanisms and participates in human imaging studies seeking to improve our diagnosis of dementing disorders.  He also performs research on brain chemical factors that influence the production of beta-amyloid, a key disease protein in Alzheimer’s disease.  Dr. Albin is passionate about advancing disease knowledge so that we can treat patients better.  He attended medical school at the University of Pittsburgh and received his Neurology training at the University of Michigan.

Peter Lichtenberg, PhD

Research Education Component Co-Core Leader

Dr. Lichtenberg is the Research Education Component Core Co-Leader of the MADC, the director of the Wayne State University Institute of Gerontology, and Co-Director of the Michigan Center for Urban African American Aging Research (MCUAAAR).  He is an expert in Geriatric Psychology and a national leader in addressing health disparities in elderly minority populations. In his role at Wayne State University, Dr. Lichtenberg has founded the IOG pre-doctoral training program in aging and urban health, was the Principle Investigator on a National Institute of Aging training grant from 2001-2012, and has helped train nearly fifty doctoral students in an intensive aging research program. As the MADC Clinical Core Co-Leader, Peter has been instrumental in the MADC’s success with recruiting underrepresented minorities in Detroit.

Kenneth Langa, MD, PhD


Dr. Langa is a Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, a Research Investigator in the Ann Arbor Veterans Affairs HSR&D Center, a Faculty Associate at the Institute for Social Research, and Social Research, Director of the Institute of Gerontology, at the University of Michigan. He is a Co-Investigator for the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a National Institute on Aging funded longitudinal study of 20,000 adults in the United States. He is also Lead Investigator for the Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study (ADAMS), a supplemental study to the HRS regarding the risk factors, epidemiology, and outcomes of dementia. He is the recipient of a Career Development Award and R01 grants from the National Institute on Aging, a Paul Beeson Physician Faculty Scholars in Aging Research Award, and a New Investigator Award from the Alzheimer's Association. In 2007, Dr. Langa was a visiting Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Institute of Public Health at Cambridge University in Cambridge, England.

Irving Vega, PhD



Irving E. Vega obtained his undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez Campus, where he was a NIH-Minority Access for Research Careers (MARC) Fellow. Then, he continued his research training in the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience at the Graduate School of New Brunswick, Rutgers University, earning his PhD. Dr. Vega proceeded to a postdoctoral fellowship in the Neuroscience Department at Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, where he developed his research career focusing on the identification of proteome changes associated with the accumulation of pathological tau proteins in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. As graduate student and postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Vega was supported by different fellowships including NIH-NRSA F31 and F32. In 2005, Dr. Vega established a research team as faculty member in the Department of Biology at the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras Campus. In 2014, Dr. Vega transferred his research program to the Department of Translational Science and Molecular Medicine at Michigan State University. In addition to mentor graduate students that successfully completed their PhD, Dr. Vega also has dedicated his career to develop training programs for undergraduate students in order to increase diversity in the field of neuroscience. His dedication and commitment to mentor the next generation of researchers, especially those from underrepresented ethnic groups in science, is based on his own experiences and serve as the basis for a productive research career.

Neil Alexander, MD, MS


Dr. Alexander graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis and received a clinical research design and biostatistics master’s degree from University of Michigan. He completed his internal medicine residency at the University of New Mexico Affiliated Hospitals and a geriatrics fellowship at the University of Michigan. He is a past research fellow at the University of Michigan Institute of Gerontology. Dr. Alexander is board-certified in internal medicine and geriatrics. He has a special interest in exercise, mobility, falls and rehabilitation in older adults. He is the Director of the VA Ann Arbor Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center.

Wassim Tarraf, PhD

Research Education Component Core Trainee

Dr. Tarraf is an assistant professor at the Institute of Gerontology and in the Department of Healthcare Sciences, and a faculty in the Masters of Public Health program in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences at Wayne State University. He is a health services researcher, policy analyst, and gerontologist with a primary interest in research on minority aging and racial/ethnic healthcare disparities. His research evaluates disparities in health, health behavior, and healthcare access and use among race/ethnic minorities in the United States, and investigates the social determinants of health and healthcare. Dr. Tarraf has served as a principal investigator or co-investigator and statistical consultant on several university and federally funded projects.

Jessica Damoiseaux, PhD

Research Education Component Core Trainee

Dr. Damoiseaux is an Assistant Professor in the Institute of Gerontology and the Department of Psychology at Wayne State University. Her main research goal is to understand the changes in brain function and cognition that accompany normal and abnormal aging. She is particularly interested in examining the influence of biological and cognitive predisposition on cognitive and brain network connectivity changes in healthy older adults. The primary approach Dr. Damoiseaux uses to study brain network connectivity is functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). In addition, she uses other neuroimaging techniques, such as structural MRI and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to study brain structure and structural brain connectivity.

Jiayu Zhou, PhD

Research Education Component Core Trainee

Dr. Zhou is an assistant professor at Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Michigan State University. Before joining MSU, Zhou received his Ph.D. degree in computer science at Arizona State University in 2014. He has a broad research interest in large-scale machine learning and data mining, and biomedical informatics. Especially, Dr. Zhou is interested in building high-performance machine learning models that understand Alzheimer's progression and identify signaling biomarkers from multiple data sources, including medical imaging, genotypes, and other clinical information.

HwaJung Choi, PhD

Research Education Component Core Trainee

Dr. Choi is an Assistant Research Scientist in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan. Her expertise includes health and family economics and demography by training. Dr. Choi’s research extensively examines inter-relationships among older adults’ health, family, and contextual factors, and trends in older adults’ functional and activity limitations. More recently, her research interest also includes healthcare utilization and healthcare costs of Alzheimer’s diseases and related dementia (ADRD). In particular, Dr. Choi is interested in the influence of family-care availability on healthcare utilization by older adults with ADRD, and in assessing the full array of ADRD care costs to individuals, family caregivers, and the public.

Ben Combs, PhD

Research Education Component Core Trainee

Dr. Combs is a research assistant professor in Michigan State University's College of Human Medicine. He studies the tau protein in order to better understand its role in the initiation and progression of Alzheimer's disease and other related dementias. His work focuses on the protein's function in regulating axonal transport in neurons and how pathological forms of tau can disrupt this process leading to neurodegeneration and toxicity in disease. By gaining a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms that underpin tau's role in Alzheimer's disease he hopes to identify better targets for future potential therapies. Combs graduated from Iowa State University with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and the University of Kansas with a Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology before working as a postdoctoral research associate in Nicholas Kanaan's lab at Michigan State University.