Internal Advisory Board
University of Michigan
Dr. Cathleen Connell is a Professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Her graduate training is in human development and families studies with a focus on adult development and aging; her post-doctoral training from Washington University in St. Louis is in chronic illness risk reduction. She currently serves as Associate Director of the Center for Managing Chronic Disease. Her research focuses broadly on families facing dementia, including community-based approaches to improve dementia service delivery, strategies to increase physical activity among spouse caregivers, attitudes and beliefs about dementia and diagnosis, and assessing the role of pets as a source of support and companionship.
University of Michigan
University of Michigan
The central goal of Dr. Dauer’s studies is to unravel the molecular and cellular mechanisms of diseases that disrupt the motor system. His primary focus is on Parkinson’s disease and DYT1 dystonia. For each of these projects, he focuses efforts on disease genes that cause these disorders, employing a range of molecular, cellular, and whole animal studies to dissect the normal role of disease proteins, and how pathogenic mutations lead to disease. His team currently has many studies on novel models of Parkinson’s and dystonia both in whole animals and at the cell and molecular level. They are interested in key molecular events that drive these processes, and in understanding the mechanisms underlying the selective vulnerability of certain cell types (e.g., dopamine neurons).
University of Michigan
Dr. Mendes de Leon is a social epidemiologist with a primary interest in the major health problems and health disparities in late life. His work focuses on a broad array of social and psychological determinants that affect the development and progression of disability, cognitive decline and other common, age-associated health conditions. Specific areas of interest include the role of neighborhood-level social processes and environments in late-life health, and the complex interplay between life-course social conditions and biological processes and their functional consequences in older age. His current studies focus on the role of neighborhood contexts and inflammatory processes in social disparities in late-life disability and cognitive impairment. In other research, he is investigating the cumulative and interactive effects of racial background and life-course socio-economic disadvantage in subclinical disease and disability in older adults.
Dr. Feldman’s laboratory is interested in the role of growth factors in the pathogenesis and treatment of neurologic disorders. Their research focuses on growth factor signaling mechanisms responsible for neuronal survival and differentiation. They are particularly interested in insulin-like growth I IGF-I and its receptor (IGF-IR). IGF-I and IGF-II are potent neurotrophic factors for motor and sensory neurons and glia. Dr. Feldman’s laboratory is currently investigating the role of IGF-I:IGF-IR in protecting neurons from oxidative and toxic stressors and preventing cell death in models of diabetic neuropathy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Alzheimer’s disease. Their in vitro model systems include primary motor, sensory and cortical neurons and transformed neuronal cell lines. Animal models include wild type and transgenic mice and zebrafish. The Feldman laboratory uses a wide range of techniques including transient and stable neuronal transfection, message knock down using siRNA, injection of morpholinos into zebrafish, protein analyses including western immunoblotting, dot blotting and ELISA, biochemistry and oxidative adduct measures including substrate analyses and enzyme activity and anatomical assays including immunohistochemistry, histochemistry and transmission electron microscopy. The laboratory currently includes clinician and basic scientists, postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students and technicians all of whom are actively engaged as research teams focused on a particular aspect of neurological disease.
University of Michigan
Helen Kales, MD PPA, is Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Program for Positive Aging at the University of Michigan. She is also Associate Director for Mental Health and Aging Research, the University of Michigan Geriatrics Center, Research Scientist, VA Center for Clinical Management Research, and Research Scientist, Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.Dr. Kales is recognized as an expert in outcomes related to depression in later life as well as those associated with neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia, and in pharmacoepidemiology research related to the use of antipsychotics in the elderly. Her research program is directly informed by her clinical work and experiences with patients, families, providers and systems to diminish the barriers to effective and quality care for older patients with mental health issues.
Dr. Frey is internationally recognized for his use of brain imaging techniques to understand and diagnose cognitive and movement disorders. He oversees multiple studies that use PET imaging to improve our ability to diagnose different forms of dementia.
University of Michigan
James S. Jackson is the Daniel Katz Distinguished University Professor of Psychology, professor of health behavior and health education in the School of Public Health, and director and research professor of the Institute for Social Research. He is the past chair of the social psychology training program and director of the Research Center for Group Dynamics, the Program for Research on Black Americans, and the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies, all at the University of Michigan.
Wayne State University
Dr. Raz completed his undergraduate studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel, in 1979. He was trained in psychology and human neuroscience at the University of Texas at Austin, and received his Ph.D. in 1985. Dr. Raz’s research focuses on the neural correlates and modifiers of cognitive aging. His research has been continuously supported since 1993 by the National Institute on Aging.
Community Advisory Board
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dr. Koeppe is a Professor of Radiology at the University of Michigan and the Director of the PET Physics Section of the Division of Nuclear Medicine. His research interests center around the quantitative aspects of positron emission tomography (PET). Specific research areas include the development and implementation of tracer kinetic models for new and existing positron labeled radiotracers, development of optimal techniques for estimation of physiological quantities, and development and implementation of automated image analysis routines for use with PET. Another specific area of research is the use of PET cerebral blood flow activation studies to examine various cognitive and neurological functions of the brain. Other research interests include the correlation and comparison of information obtained from PET studies to that obtained from corresponding anatomic imaging procedures such as magnetic resonance imaging.
Neuropathology Core Consultant - University of Michigan
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.
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.