Cognitive Neurosciences Fellowship: Mentors
Dr. Amaral is Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Director of Research at the MIND Institute. His interests include research involving multidisciplinary studies directed at determining the neuroanatomical, behavioral and electrophysiological organization and functions of brain systems that are involved in learning, memory, emotion and social behavior carried out on the human brain and on animal models. Dr. Amaral is an international expert on memory and an editor of “The Hippocampus Book” a compendium of current knowledge on hippocampal anatomy and physiology that serves as a principal text for neuroscience training and research. He also has considerable mentoring experience including support of graduate students through to successful academic careers.
Ramsey Badawi, PhD: Dr. Badawi is Professor of Radiology and Chief of the Division of Nuclear Medicine. Dr. Badawi is focused on translational imaging, with emphasis on PET and other radiotracer techniques. Translational imaging is aimed at transferring (“translating”) research imaging methodologies to the clinic and human use. This requires a multidisciplinary approach and Dr. Badawi has developed multiple collaborations with other investigators. He is currently engaged in development of new scanner hardware for high-resolution molecular imaging in humans, and quantitative parametric imaging for liver, cancer, cardiac and neurological applications. Dr. Badawi is Joint Principal Investigator of a $15.5m project to build the world’s first total body PET scanner. (http://explorer.ucdavis.edu)
Dr. Carter is Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology and directs the interdisciplinary Center for Neuroscience at the University of California at Davis. He has been conducting basic and clinical research in cognitive neuroscience for over 20 years, using methods such as fMRI and EEG/ERP’s. He has extensive experience teaching and mentoring research trainees at both the pre-doctoral and post-doctoral levels, has served as head of the graduate group in clinical and translational research at UC Davis for 8 years as well as serving as PI of a TL1 post-doctoral training grant from 2005-2011. He is currently PI of the pre- doctoral NIMH T32 “Training Program in Basic Neuroscience” which serves as a recruitment resource for this proposed training grant.
I am a human geneticist and have been involved in the discovery of over 30 cancer genes using genome-wide association studies, linkage analysis, candidate gene testing, and whole genome sequencing. I have particular expertise in colorectal cancer genetics, statistical genetics and genomics, and have published influential studies on the characterization of genetic pathways in polyposis syndromes and the discovery of genes for colorectal adenoma and carcinoma, for adenoma recurrence. More recently, I was involved in characterizing a novel familiar colorectal tumor syndrome caused by germline mutations in the POLE and POLD1 genes. From my newly established laboratory at UC Davis, I currently lead two of the largest admixture mapping/genome- wide association studies of cancer in Hispanics, including CHIBCHA, a large colorectal cancer case-control study in the Colombian, Mexican and Brazilian populations and COLUMBUS, a large breast cancer case control study in Colombia and Mexico. I also have interests in translational genomics, including the use of the patient-derived xenograft mouse models to study patterns of cancer clonality and evolution and response to cancer therapy using single cell genomic approaches. In the past, I have also carried out genetics of neuro- psychiatric disorders in isolates from Hispanic populations and currently have an ongoing collaboration with Dr. Charles DeCarli to analyze a genome-wide association study for cognitive traits in the Alzheimer’s Disease Center Cohort. In this T32 training program I will contribute my expertise in genetic and genomic analyses to train postdoctoral scholars with basic and translational research interests in the field of cognitive aging.
Dr. Cherry is Professor of Biomedical Engineering. His research involves the rapidly growing field of molecular imaging. The basic concept behind molecular imaging is the use of non-invasive imaging technologies to visualize and characterize specific molecular events and targets in vivo. Areas of active research include the development of new and improved imaging technologies, the design of novel contrast agents and imaging probes and their application in molecular diagnostics and therapeutics. Professor Cherry and the members of his laboratory team are particularly interested in developing new technologies and techniques for in vivo molecular imaging. They focus on a nuclear imaging technique, positron emission tomography (PET), and its application in studying animal models of human disease. They are also exploring the integration of PET imaging technology with the high resolution anatomical imaging provided by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or x-ray computed tomography (CT). The use of molecular imaging technologies for phenotyping and for the development and validation of new drugs and therapeutic approaches are among the applications of molecular imaging technologies to important problems in medicine and biology.
Dr. Corina is Professor of Linguistics. Dr. Corina's research laboratory is housed in the Center for Mind and Brain and focuses on understanding the neural bases of higher cognitive function, specifically language and memory. He is interested in specifying functional and neuroanatomical models of human behavior and elucidating the degrees of plasticity within systems related to language and memory. His research encompasses psychology, linguistics, computational modeling and neuroscience, incorporating techniques that include self-designed behavioral tests, functional imaging (fMRI and functional spectroscopy), cortical stimulation and single unit recording.
Dr. DeCarli is Professor of Neurology and the Victor and Genevieve Orsi Chair in Alzheimer's Research. He directs the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center and the Imaging of Dementia and Aging (IDeA) laboratory. His research interests focus on the use of neuroimaging techniques to examine the biological underpinnings of brain structure and function during aging and in the presence of diseases such as cerebrovascular and Alzheimer’s disease. He has considerable mentoring experience including graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, visiting professors and junior faculty K-awardees. He also has mentored a number of under-represented minorities through diversity supplements. He currently serves on the steering committee for curriculum development in the Mentoring Academy and is the Chair of the faculty development and promotions committee for the department of neurology. Finally, he serves as the Leader of the Investigator Development Core of Latino Aging Research Resource Center.
Dr. Dugger is an Assistant Professor of Pathology. She is a neuroanatomist and co-Core Leader of the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center Neuropathology Core. Throughout her career, she has interfaced with the fields of neurology and neuropathology and focused on clinicopathological correlates to investigate disease heterogeneity. Her work has resulted in numerous private, state, and federally funded grants and over 50 peer-reviewed manuscripts. Dr. Dugger joined the faculty at the University of California Davis in the winter of 2018; her laboratory focuses on (1) understanding heterogeneity within neurodegenerative diseases (2) understanding the interaction of peripheral changes to aging and neurodegenerative diseases. In addition to her research, Dr. Dugger is the director of the Brains to Classrooms program, which educates elementary school students on brain health and comparative anatomy.
Dr. Fan is an Assistant Professor of Neurology and Biomedical Engineering. She is an imaging physicist with experience in stroke research and co-leader of the Neuroimaging Core for the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. Her lab develops novel magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) methods to measure brain physiology in cerebrovascular disease and vascular dementia. As there is large overlap between vascular risk factors and cognitive decline, Dr. Fan characterizes this risk with brain imaging biomarkers such as cerebral blood flow, oxygenation, and vascular reserve. Through new MRI and PET technologies, she aims to diagnose cerebrovascular disease and dementia earlier than ever, and identify optimal therapies to improve patient quality of life.
Dr. Farias is Professor of Neurology. Her background and training is in Clinical Psychology with specialization in Neuropsychology. Much of her research has focused on the relationship between cognitive impairment and its impact of older adults’ everyday functional capacities and the eventual development of disability. As part of this work, with NIA support, she had developed a novel and sensitive approach to measuring functional limitations – very early and subtle functional problems that precede the development of frank disability or loss of independence. She also collaborates closely with other investigators in the UCD ADC to study novel measures of cognitive reserve and how they impact trajectories of cognitive aging. Finally, she has begun to investigate interventions to help older adults maintain cognitive function. Funding is currently pending on a project that will examine the use of training in attention through meditative practices to promote brain health. She is developing an intervention program to promote the use of various memory- and executive-based compensatory strategies to support better everyday function in normal and mildly impaired older adults.
Dr. Ferreira is a Professor in the Department of Psychology and a member of the Center for Mind and Brain. Her research is designed to elucidate the mechanisms that support people’s ability to comprehend and produce language across the adult lifespan, with an emphasis on the online use of syntactic, semantic, and prosodic information to build linguistic representations. Her research methods include eyetracking, EEG, and fMRI, as well as traditional behavioral techniques. She is currently an Associate Editor of the journal Cognitive Psychology and Chair of the Psychonomic Society’s Publications Committee. Her work is funded by both the National Institute of Aging / NIH and the National Science Foundation.
Dr. Geng is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology. The goal of her research is to understand the brain and behavioral mechanisms of attentional control. Projects in her lab focus on how top-down, bottom-up, and learned factors (e.g., contextual knowledge, reward incentives, perceptual saliency and similarity, and probabilistic regularities) are integrated to produce a single metric of attentional priority. Her methods include functional magnetic resonance imaging (using whole-brain, ROI and connectivity analyses), behavioral psychophysics, eye-tracking, and EEG/ERPs.
Dr. Harvey is an Associate Professor in the Division of Biostatistics, Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Medicine, at UC Davis. Her research primarily focuses on the statistical analysis of neuroimaging data. For the past twelve years, she has worked in the area of Alzheimer’s disease, with particular emphasis on the use of neuroimaging to identify markers of disease progression. As such, she has expertise in the analysis of complex correlated data, whether the correlation is due to repeated measures from the same person at a single time point (multiple brain regions or multiple electrodes, for example) or multiple measurements over time on the same person (longitudinal studies). Dr. Harvey’s independent research focuses on deriving hypothesis-driven summaries of neuroimaging data that utilize the known structure of the brain as well as the hypothesized biology of the disease process.
Dr. Iosif is Assistant Professor in the Division of Biostatistics. Her research involves developing methods for longitudinal and clustered data, including longitudinal random length data. She also supports applications of statistics to psychiatry and biomedical sciences.
Dr. Wilsaan Joiner is an assistant professor in the Departments of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior; and Neurology. His research group conducts translational research in healthy individuals and clinical conditions such as Schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, and upper limb amputation. The group uses various computational and experimental techniques (e.g., fMRI, eye tracking, motion capture) to investigate the integration of sensory and motor signals in guiding goal-directed movements, and the role these signals play in visual perception, motor adaptation and memory consolidation. Dr. Joiner obtained his PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University and the National Eye Institute. He was awarded the NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00) from the National Eye Institute and was the recipient of an NSF CAREER Award under the Biomedical Engineering Program. Before joining UC Davis, Dr. Joiner was an assistant professor in the Bioengineering Department at George Mason University. At his prior institution Dr. Joiner received a Mentoring Excellence Award and the Emerging Researcher/Scholar/Creator Award. His current research is funded by several grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Jin is Associate Professor, Department of Medical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Director of the Division of Neuropathology. Dr. Jin is a neuropathologist and neuroscientist with expertise in the molecular analysis of brain diseases. He is currently the principal investigator of the NIA- funded Neuropathology Core of the Alzheimer’s Disease Center at UC Davis. He is also the UCD principal investigator of the “University of California Pediatric Neuropathology Consortium,” with the mission to collect and study cells and brain tissues from patients with neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, fragile X syndrome, and Rett syndrome. Dr. Jin also conducts basic science research in his laboratory. His scientific goals include identifying potential cellular and molecular therapeutic targets and designing and testing small molecule compounds specific for these targets.
Dr. Luck is Professor of Psychology and the Director of the Center for Mind and Brain. His research focuses on perception, attention, working memory, and their interactions in both healthy individuals and people with psychiatric or neurological disorders. Experiments conducted in his laboratory use psychophysics, eye tracking, and ERPs to examine higher-level visual processes in healthy young adults, and he has collaborated extensively with other senior researchers to extend the scope of this research to schizophrenia (with Dr. James Gold at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center), to oculomotor control (with Dr. Andrew Hollingworth at the University of Iowa and Dr. Joy Geng at UC Davis), and to infant development (with Dr. Lisa Oakes at UC Davis). He has trained a number of graduate students and post-docs over the years, including several who are now faculty at major research universities.
Dr. Maezawa is Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Dr. Maezawa has a strong interest in microglial biology. She has pioneered work on glial abnormalities in developmental disorders and provided a link between epigenetic regulation and glial function. Current projects in her laboratory are also aimed at finding molecular targets on microglia for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. She is co-inventor of several small molecule drug candidates for these disorders. Dr. Maezawa’s laboratory is funded by the Alzheimer’s Association and the National Institute of Health.
Dr. Mangun is Professor of Psychology and Neurology and was the founding Director of the Center for Mind and Brain and former Dean of Social Sciences. His research focuses on several key mechanisms involved in attention and awareness. This work takes a cognitive neuroscience approach to investigating how we perceive, attend, ignore and become aware of our environment. For example, recordings of event-related brain potentials (ERPs) from healthy persons and special patient groups are obtained while they perform various perceptual and attentional tasks. The ERPs provide high temporal resolution indices of specific stages of human information processing, and thus can be used to investigate the underlying mechanisms of mental function. To identify the brain systems and circuits involved in various attentional processes, tools such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) are used in conjunction with the ERPs.
Oanh Meyer, Ph.D.
Dr. Meyer is Assistant Professor of Neurology. Dr. Meyer’s research interests focus on social determinants of health as they affect underrepresented populations, in particular racial/ethnic minorities and older adults. She is currently examining neighborhood effects on health and she plans to continue this unique aspect of research. Having been trained as a social psychologist and collaborating with scholars from multiple disciplines (e.g., clinical and community psychology, neuropsychology, epidemiology, sociology, medicine, psychiatry), her research emphasizes the importance of utilizing innovative and interdisciplinary approaches to studying cognitive and mental health.
Dr. Miller is Associate Professor of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior and is a member of the Center for Mind and Brain. His research focuses on understanding the neural bases of auditory perception and speech recognition in human listeners. His methods include non-invasive techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), high-density electroencephalography (EEG), and neural network analysis. Through these efforts he aims to understand how different parts of the brain cooperate to achieve perception - especially in noisy environments - and what happens when comprehension fails.
Dr. Miller is an Associate Professor in the Department of Human Ecology. She is interested in examining how knowledge and motivation support cognition in later life, particularly within the areas of language comprehension and memory, information processing, and decision making. She is also interested in health and nutrition literacy and investigates ways to increase effective health information processing and decision making across adulthood.
Dr. Morrison is currently UC Davis Distinguished Professor, Director of the California National Primate Research Center (CNPRC), and Professor of Neurology in the School of Medicine at UC Davis. Dr. Morrison earned his Bachelor’s Degree and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, and completed postdoctoral studies at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Dr. Morrison’s research program focuses primarily on the neurobiology of aging and neurodegenerative disorders, particularly as they relate to cellular and synaptic organization of cerebral cortex. His laboratory is particularly interested in age-related alterations in structural and molecular attributes of the synapse that compromise synaptic health, lead to cognitive decline, and potentially leave the brain vulnerable to Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Dr. Morrison is currently developing nonhuman primate models of AD. Dr. Morrison has served on Council for the Society for Neuroscience (SfN), as Editor-in-Chief of SfN’s public-facing website, BrainFacts.org, and is currently serving as Secretary of SfN. Dr. Morrison is a member of the National Academy of Medicine.
Dr. Mungas is Professor of Neurology. His research interests are in measuring cognition in ethnically and linguistically diverse older populations and in studying determinants of cognitive health and cognitive decline. His research has utilized innovative psychometric methods associated with item response theory and related latent variable modeling methods to develop sensitive measures of cognitive decline relevant to diverse older populations. It has used these measures in longitudinal studies to identify demographic, environmental, and biological variables that influence late life cognitive trajectories. In addition, Dr. Mungas is the PI of the “Advanced Psychometric Methods in Cognitive Aging Research” conference grant. The mission of this conference grant is to train early career and established investigators in advanced psychometric and statistical methodology for cognitive aging research and to develop collaborative scientific manuscripts that address important themes in cognitive aging research. He will be a member of the Executive Committee.
Dr. Ober is Professor of Human Development and Family Studies. She is currently working on a number of projects within the realm of cognitive neuropsychology/neuroscience of aging with particular emphasis on semantic processing. She finds that the overall organization of semantic networks is relatively preserved in normal aging, but that there are certain item characteristics (such as typicality or frequency of the item within a semantic domain), as well as certain task components (such as the attentional demand characteristics) that are differentially impacted by dementia as compared to aging.
Dr. Olichney is Professor of Neurology. He directs the Cognitive Electrophysiology and Neuroimaging (CEAN) laboratory of in the Center for Mind and Brain. He develops electrophysiological and neuroimaging techniques sensitive to the memory and language impairments characteristic of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The techniques his laboratory uses to study the physiology of memory processes include Cognitive Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). Cognitive ERPs, comprised of summated synaptic electrical potentials, are a powerful tool for investigating the timing of cognitive processes. Functional MRI demonstrates the precise anatomical substrates of cognition, by mapping the regional changes in brain oxygenation. Dr. Olichney has been applying these techniques to further our understanding of the memory decline seen with aging, neurodegenerative disease (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease) and other neurological disorders (e.g., alcoholic Korsakoff’s syndrome). The physiological markers of memory and language dysfunction that he employs have been shown to help predict which patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment will progress to develop clinical Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Dr. Ranganath is Professor of Psychology. His research concerns the neurocognitive structure of human memory and executive control. One set of studies currently underway concerns the relationship between short-term, or working memory, and long-term memory. Results from event- related fMRI studies conducted by Dr. Ranganath suggest that overlapping regions of the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal lobes are active during both working memory and long-term memory tasks. This research suggests that a common neural system supports both of these types of memory. Currently, Dr. Ranganath is investigating how different regions within the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal lobes contribute to working and long-term memory through additional fMRI studies of healthy young adults and behavioral testing of patients with focal brain damage. A second, related area of interest is the role of prefrontal cortex in the control and evaluation of information in memory. Finally, in collaboration with Dr. Andy Yonelinas, Dr. Ranganath is investigating the roles of different medial temporal lobe regions in recognition memory processes. To address this issue, he is conducting parallel studies using event-related fMRI and event-related brain potentials in healthy young and older adults and amnesic patients with medial temporal lobe damage. In collaboration with another research group, Dr. Ranganath is also conducting studies to examine field potentials recorded directly from the human hippocampal formation in patients performing recognition memory tasks.
Dr. Rutledge is Professor and Vice Chairman of Research in the Department of Medicine. Originally trained as a clinical cardiologist, Dr. Rutledge has developed an integrative basic and translational vascular biology research program. Over the last 8 years the focus of his research program has changed to the study of the metabolic and vascular contribution to vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by examining neuroinflammation and apoE isoform physiology and pathophysiology.
Dr. Srinivasan is Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering. His research utilizes biophotonics technologies for basic and translational research and clinical diagnostics, neuroimaging, neurovascular coupling, cerebral blood flow and metabolism, in vivo functional optical imaging, light-tissue interactions. His laboratory develops optical imaging techniques and diagnostics for investigation of living systems with applications spanning from basic to clinical research. In particular, he is interested in neuronal control of hemodynamics and metabolism in the central nervous system in health and disease, including the retina and brain. His highly interdisciplinary approach combines cutting edge optical imaging technologies with collaborations ranging from neuroscience to neurology and ophthalmology to test fundamental hypotheses and explore their diagnostic implications.
Dr. Sutcliffe’s is Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Internal Medicine. Her research complements Dr. Cherry’s work through the design, synthesis and in vivo evaluation of targeted molecular imaging agents with a focus on PET. Her group has developed rapid radiolabeling technologies using both solid-phase and solution-phase chemistries to incorporate the short half-life PET radionuclide 18F into peptides. Peptide-based radiopharmaceuticals are gaining extensive attention as targeted molecular imaging agents. It is therefore important that technologies are developed that allow these agents to be synthesized rapidly and screened both in vitro and in vivo to assess their efficacy. Dr. Sutcliffe’s group uses two approaches to develop targeted molecular imaging agents to image cell surface receptors A “rational approach” based on known binding structures and a “random approach” using the one-bead-one-compound molecular library methodology. Peptides are synthesized using standard Fmoc chemistries, screened in vitro for affinity and selectivity and subsequently radiolabeled and screened in vivo using small animal imaging. Dr. Sutcliffe has recently developed a new “first in human” PET facility to directly translate novel ligand development into clinical research and is currently working with Dr. DeCarli on the clinical application of AV-45 (amyloid beta) and AV-1451(tau) ligands for the study of cognitive aging.
Dr. Voss is Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine. Dr. Voss's research interests are in observing molecular switching in proteins, as well as protein folding and assembly. This work is carried out in large part through the use electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR — a.k.a. ESR) spectroscopy of site-directed spin labels. His team uses this approach to address problems in several biological systems, including those related to cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.
Rachel Whitmer, Ph.D.
Dr. Rachel Whitmer joined UC Davis in Spring of 2018 and leads the Population Science of Brain Health Laboratory. She is Professor and Division Chief of Epidemiology , Department of Public Health Sciences. Her research focuses on using epidemiological methods to reduce inequities in brain aging; especially through study of dementia incidence, cognitive aging, and brain pathology in ethnoracial minority groups, those with diabetes mellitus, and individuals living beyond age 90. Dr. Whitmer is Principal Investigator of several NIH funded epidemiological cohort studies, KHANDLE (Kaiser Healthy Aging and Diverse Life Experiences), STAR (Study of Healthy Aging in African Americans), LifeAfter90, and SOLID ( Study of Longevity in Diabetes) all of which examine lifecourse mechanisms on brain aging in multiethnic, diverse populations. In early 2019 Dr. Whitmer will launch the US POINTER at UC Davis, a multidomain clinical trial to prevent cognitive decline funded by the Alzheimer’s Association. Dr. Whitmer is a member of the Graduate Group in Epidemiology and Public Health Sciences, and is committed to mentoring, teaching, and promoting those underrepresented in research.
Dr. Xiong is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. He recently joined the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center as Associate Director of the Outreach, Recruitment and Education Core. His active grants include a Behavioral Health Center of Excellent grant from the State of California to study telepsychiatry in skilled nursing facilities and a training grant on providing integrated behavioral health and primary care training to residents.
Dr. Yonelinas is Professor of Psychology. His research examines the processes underlying human memory. In order to characterize the functional nature of different memory processes he is currently using implicit and explicit tests as well as several 'second generation' procedures such as the process dissociation procedure, the independence remember/know procedure, and ROC modeling procedure. In order to determine the neural substrates of memory encoding and retrieval processes he is i) examining memory impaired patients such as amnesiacs and Alzheimer's patients, and ii) examining the physiological correlates of memory processes using neuroimaging techniques such as event related potentials and function magnetic resonance imaging. The goal of this work is to develop and test models of memory that address recent behavioral, neuropsychological and brain imaging data. Other research interests include studying action slips (i.e., habitual actions that interrupt intended actions) and examining the relationship between performance and conscious awareness.