Rachel Anne Whitmer, Ph.D.

Chief, Division of Epidemology

Director, Population Brain Health Lab

Co-director, UC Davis Alzheimer's Disease Center

Professor, Department of Public Health Sciences and Department of Neurology



Alzheimer's Disease

Health Economics



Health Informatics


Population Health


Clinical Research

Locations and Contact

UC Davis Medical Center

UC Davis Medical Center
2315 Stockton Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95817

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Research/Academic Interests

Rachel Whitmer is a tenured Professor of Public Health Sciences and Neurology, Chief of the Division of Epidemiology at the University of California Davis (UC Davis) School of Medicine and Co-director of the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. Professor Whitmer was the first female ‘Target of Excellence’ hire at UC Davis School of Medicine, a special hiring mechanism to recruit high impact scientists who are internationally renown experts in their fields and will bridge needed gaps in the research mission of the university. Dr. Whitmer was recruited to meld population science and epidemiology with the UC Davis Alzheimer’s disease research center and help the center expand into community-based sciences with a focus on groups historically underrepresented in research.

Dr. Whitmer is Director of the Population Brain Health Lab which uses lifecouse epidemiological methods to reduce inequities in brain aging; through study of dementia incidence, cognitive aging, neuroimaging, and brain pathology in diverse communities, those with diabetes, and the oldest-old.  She is Principal Investigator of three National Institutes of Health funded cohort studies of dementia, cardiovascular health, and cognitive aging as well as US POINTER, a lifestyle multi-domain behavioral intervention clinical trial to reduce risk of dementia. In total these programs represent over $66 million in funding and follow over 4000 research participants.  Her work has been cited over 16,000 times across 175 publications (H Index 52).



Center/Program Affiliation

Center for Neuroscience

Undergraduate School

B.S. (Magna Cum Lause), Psychology & Neuroscience, University of Massachusetts, Amherst MA 1995

Other School

Ph.D., Epidemiology of Apoe4, HRT and Cognitive Aging in Latinas, UC Davis, Davis CA 2000


Cardiovascular Epidemiology, School of Public Health, UC Berkeley, Berkeley CA 2000-2002

Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine® (ELAM®), Drexel University, 2020

Target of Excellence, UC Davis School of Medicine, 2018


Meyer OL, Harrati A, Gavett BE, Farias ST, Whitmer RA, Widaman K, Hoang V, Tobias M, Mungas D. Effects of early-life environment and adulthood SES on cognitive change in a multiethnic cohort. J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2023 Mar 7:1-9. doi:10.1017/S135561772200087X. Epub ahead of print. PMID:36880230.

Hayes-Larson E, Ikesu R, Fong J, Mobley TM, Gee GC, Brookmeyer R, Whitmer RA, Gilsanz P, Mayeda ER. Association of Education With Dementia Incidence Stratified by Ethnicity and Nativity in a Cohort of Older Asian American Individuals. JAMA Netw Open. 2023 Mar 1;6(3):e231661. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.1661. PMID:36877520.

Petrosyan D, Corrada MM, Kawas CH, Demoz A, Ganzon C, Popovich O, Gaied R, Mungas D, Gilsanz P, Vieira KE, Whitmer RA, DeCarli C. Assessing cognitive impairment in an ethnically diverse cohort of oldest-old: the life after 90 study. Aging Clin Exp Res. 2023 Mar 4. doi:10.1007/s40520-023-02368-0. Epub ahead of print. PMID:36870029.

Thomas MD, Calmasini C, Khela H, Mobley TM, Mayeda ER, Mangurian C, Barnes LL, Gilsanz P, Whitmer RA, Glymour MM. The impact of attending historically Black colleges and universities on cognitive decline in Black adults: A longitudinal analysis in the KHANDLE and STAR cohorts. Alzheimers Dement. 2023 Feb 17. doi:10.1002/alz.12983. Epub ahead of print. PMID:36800287.

Meyer OL, Besser L, Tobias M, George KM, Gavett B, Farias ST, Bhagat N, Pham ML, Chrisphonte S, Whitmer RA. Neighborhood socioeconomic status and segregation linked to cognitive decline. Alzheimers Dement (Amst). 2023 Feb 8;15(1):e12401. doi:10.1002/dad2.12401. PMID:36788980.

Soh Y, Whitmer RA, Mayeda ER, Glymour MM, Peterson RL, Eng CW, Quesenberry CP, Manly JJ, Gilsanz P. State-Level Indicators of Childhood Educational Quality and Incident Dementia in Older Black and White Adults. JAMA Neurol. 2023 Feb 13:e225337. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2022.5337. Epub ahead of print. PMID:36780143.

Peterson RL, Gilsanz P, Lor Y, George KM, Ko M, Wagner J, Soh Y, Meyer OL, Glymour MM, Whitmer RA. Rural residence across the life course and late-life cognitive decline in KHANDLE: A causal inference study. Alzheimers Dement (Amst). 2023 Feb 3;15(1):e12399. doi:10.1002/dad2.12399. PMID:36762299.

Cintron DW, Calmasini C, Barnes LL, Mungas DM, Whitmer RA, Eng CW, Gilsanz P, George KM, Peterson RL, Glymour MM. Evaluating interpersonal discrimination and depressive symptoms as partial mediators of the effects of education on cognition: Evidence from the Study of Healthy Aging in African Americans (STAR). Alzheimers Dement. 2023 Feb 1. doi:10.1002/alz.12957. Epub ahead of print. PMID:36724372.

Wilkins CH, Windon CC, Dilworth-Anderson P, Romanoff J, Gatsonis C, Hanna L, Apgar C, Gareen IF, Hill CV, Hillner BE, March A, Siegel BA, Whitmer RA, Carrillo MC, Rabinovici GD. Racial and Ethnic Differences in Amyloid PET Positivity in Individuals With Mild Cognitive Impairment or Dementia: A Secondary Analysis of the Imaging Dementia-Evidence for Amyloid Scanning (IDEAS) Cohort Study. JAMA Neurol. 2022 Oct 3;79(11):1139–47. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2022.3157. Epub ahead of print. PMID:36190710.