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Familial Dementia Neuroimaging Lab

The Familial Dementia Neuroimaging Lab is focused on the study of age-related cognitive and brain changes that may predispose individuals to develop dementia later in life

Overview

The Familial Dementia Neuroimaging Lab is focused on the study of cognitive and brain changes that may predispose individuals to develop dementia later in life. Understanding the pathophysiology of neurodegeneration and identifying preclinical biomarkers for early diagnosis of dementia, especially as measured by neuropsychology and neuroimaging, are fundamental goals for the lab.

Our research uses a variety multimodal neuroimaging types, including PET, sMRI, fMRI, DTI, and integrates genetic, molecular and neuropsychological data to characterize some of the earliest changes associated with dementia.

Director: Yakeel T. Quiroz, PhD

Meet the lab members

Our Research

We recently received funding from the National Institute of Health Office of the Director and the National Institute of Aging to investigate memory network dysfunction as an early marker of preclinical Alzheimer’s disease (AD). For this study, we are comparing a Colombian kindred with early-onset AD with a group of asymptomatic older individuals who are participants in the Harvard Aging Brain Study at Massachusetts General Hospital and are considered at high risk through molecular pathology imaging to develop late onset sporadic AD.

Learn more about our research

Current Collaborations

Our current projects involve collaborations with investigators at numerous institutions:

Current Grant Support

Group Members

  • Yakeel T. Quiroz, PhD

    Director

    Dr. Quiroz is assistant professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. She currently serves as director of the Mass General Multicultural Alzheimer’s Prevention Program (MAPP). She completed her PhD in clinical psychology at Boston University and her clinical internship and postdoctoral fellowship in neuropsychology at the Mass General. Dr. Quiroz’s research interests focus on studying the neural underpinnings of memory dysfunction in the preclinical stages of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

    By applying her efforts to the world’s largest family with a single, early onset AD-causing mutation (E280A in PSEN1), her research has provided evidence of brain abnormalities in individuals at genetic risk for AD decades before their clinical onset. Her findings have helped the field to re-conceptualize Alzheimer’s as a sequence of changes that begins decades before cognitive decline, and which may be targeted by promising disease-slowing treatments at a time in which they might have their most profound effect. Her research work has resulted in several publications that have generated considerable discussion in the field, and has achieved recognition by colleagues at the regional, national, and international level.  Dr. Quiroz is the recipient of several awards, including the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award, the FABBS Foundation Early Career Impact Award, the National Academy of Neuropsychology Tony Wong Diversity Award, and the Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences Prize from the Alejandro Angel Escobar Foundation in Colombia.

    Dr. Quiroz also serves as clinical director of the Multicultural Neuropsychology Program (MUNDOS) at Psychology Assessment Center, and director of the Multicultural Neuropsychology training program. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling to new places and listening to music.

    Twitter: @ytquiroz

  • Jennifer Gatchel, MD, PhD

    Dr. Jennifer R. Gatchel obtained her MD/PhD from Baylor College of Medicine working with Dr. Huda Y. Zoghbi studying molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration. She graduated alpha omega alpha from her medical school class, and received the Hilde Bruch Award for highest honors in psychiatry. She was subsequently a chief resident in psychopharmacology during her psychiatry residency training in the Massachusetts General Hospital/McLean Hospital Program. She went on to complete the Harvard Medical School (HMS) Geriatric Psychiatry Clinical Fellowship and is currently an instructor in psychiatry at HMS and an assistant psychiatrist in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and in the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry at McLean Hospital.

    Dr. Gatchel’s research is focused on understanding the relationships among Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)-associated proteins amyloid and tau, neuropsychiatric symptoms, and cognitive decline in the preclinical and prodromal stages of AD and related dementias. She is utilizing a combination of neuroimaging and detailed clinical and neuropsychological assessments, towards developing better prevention and treatment strategies for individuals at risk for AD. Dr. Gatchel is the recipient of the HMS Department of Psychiatry Dupont Warren Fellowship and Livingston Award, the Bright Focus Foundation Research Fellowship, and the Alzheimer’s Association Clinical Fellowship. She received the 2016 New Investigator award in Neuropsychiatric Symptoms in Neurodegenerative Diseases from the Alzheimer’s Association, and the 2017 Outstanding Emerging Research Scientist Award from the Bright Focus Foundation.

    In her clinical role, Dr. Gatchel sees older adult patients with mood and cognitive disorders and utilizes transcranial magnetic stimulation to treat depression. She is passionate about advocating for patients with dementia and their families, promoting healthy brain aging and positive mental health and training the next generation of geriatric psychiatrists and clinician-researchers. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, cooking and sampling cuisines, being amused by her Russian blue cats, Cosmo and Whiskers, and pursuing the most beautiful beaches, near and far.

  • Liliana Ramirez, MD

    Dr. Ramirez Gomez is a neurologist at Mass General and provides clinical service to patients in the Memory Disorders, Comprehensive Neurology and Behavioral Neurology units. Dr. Ramirez Gomez completed medical school at the University of Antioquia in Medellin, Colombia, and neurology residency at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, where she served as chief resident. She completed a fellowship in cognitive and behavioral neurology at the Memory and Aging Center at USC.

    Her work focuses on understanding preclinical and clinical markers of cognitive impairment that may aid in the diagnosis of dementia.  She has elucidated vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia. In collaboration with Dr. Helena Chui at the University of Southern California, she studied how to differentiate among types of dementia using specific neuropsychological tests and neuroimaging.  She has also collaborated with the National Alzheimer Coordinating Centers to identify late vascular risk factors and Alzheimer’s neuropathology in individuals with normal cognition in late life. 

    Her specific goals in the lab are to determine whether changes in the ability to identify and remember odors can serve as a novel specific biomarker for early onset familial AD.  She also aims to understand the relationship between AD neuropathological changes and the onset of sleep disturbance and cognitive decline in preclinical stages of AD, decades before full-blown symptoms begin.  

    She enjoys spending time with family and friends, hiking and relaxing in nature.

  • Edmarie Guzman-Velez, PhD

    Postdoctoral Fellow

    Dr. Guzmán-Vélez joined the lab as a postdoctoral fellow in September 2016. She completed her doctoral training in clinical psychology at the University of Iowa and her internship in neuropsychology at the Boston VA.

    Her research has focused on examining the dissociation between declarative memory and emotions in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, as well as on how bilingualism impacts cognition and the brain’s function and structure in older adults. Her current interests in the lab include studying how functional connections in the brain change years before individuals develop symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease (preclinical stage) and how these relate to cognition and genetic factors. She also conducts neuropsychological evaluations in the Mass General Multicultural Neuropsychology Program (MUNDOS). She enjoys cooking, spending time with friends and family, traveling, dancing and exercising.

  • Enmanuell Pardilla-Delgado, PhD

    Postdoctoral Fellow

    Dr. Pardilla-Delgado joined the lab as a postdoctoral fellow in September 2017, after finishing his PhD in cognitive psychology at the University of Notre Dame. His main research interests are memory, sleep and their interaction. His past research focused on the consolidation of gist-based false memories after a period of acute stress or a night of sleep.

    His interests in the lab include investigating functional changes in the brain, particularly in memory-relevant structures, in preclinical autosomal-dominant Alzheimer’s disease and how these relate to AD pathology biomarkers. He is also interested in studying sleep patterns and physiology and their relation to AD pathology and progression. He enjoys playing video games, basketball (although he hasn’t done it in ages), Doctor Who, Latin dancing, and going to the gym.

  • Clara Vila-Castelar, PhD

    Postdoctoral Fellow

    Dr. Vila-Castelar joined the lab as a postdoctoral fellow in September 2018. She completed her doctoral training in clinical psychology at Queens College, City University of New York and her internship in multicultural neuropsychology at Mass General/Harvard Medical School. Her research has focused on developing sensitive cognitive measures to detect and predict cognitive, functional and neuropsychiatric response to drug treatments. Her current interests in the lab include examining sex differences in cognitive decline, pathology burden and brain function in preclinical familial Alzheimer’s disease. She also conducts neuropsychological evaluations at the Psychology AssessmentCenter (PAC) and the Mass General Multicultural Neuropsychology Program (MUNDOS). She enjoys traveling, photography and trying new restaurants.

  • Dorothee Schoemaker, PhD

    Postdoctoral Fellow

    Dr. Schoemaker joined the lab as a postdoctoral fellow in January 2019, after finishing her PhD in clinical psychology/neuropsychology at McGill University (Montreal, Canada). Her research interests lie in the investigation of innovative biomarkers to identify aging individuals at risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias. She also aims to improve our understanding of relationships between cerebrovascular diseases and various neuropathological processes. In the lab, Dorothee will study individuals with CADASIL, a genetic condition leading to early cerebrovascular changes and progressive cognitive impairments. This population will allow characterizing the consequences of cerebrovascular changes, in the absence of confounding factors typically associated with aging. In her free time, Dorothee enjoys outdoor adventures, trying new breweries in Boston, traveling, learning new things and going to live music shows.

  • Yamile Bocanegra, PhD

    Postdoctoral Fellow

    Dr. Bocanegra joined the lab as a postdoctoral fellow in December 2017. She completed her MSc in neuropsychology from the University of San Buenaventura, and her PhD in neuroscience from the University of Antioquia. Currently she works in the Group of Neuroscience of Antioquia (Colombia) in which she has had the opportunity to study cognitive impairment in patients with neurodegenerative diseases. For the past four years she has been interested in the relation between language and the motor system through the study of patients with motor diseases, especially in Parkinson’s disease. Her current interest in the lab is related to the study of the visuo-constructional skills and their relation with biomarkers in cognitively healthy individuals with high risk for developing AD.

  • Joshua Fuller, BA, MA

    Graduate Student

    Josh joined the lab in July, 2017 after graduating with a BA in psychology and Spanish from Texas A&M University. He is a second-year doctoral student in clinical psychology at Boston University (BU) where he is co-mentored by Dr. Alice Cronin-Golomb at BU and Dr. Yakeel Quiroz. Josh’s past research used factor analysis and item response theory with data from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) to investigate the associations between neuropsychiatric symptoms with Alzheimer’s-related cognitive dysfunction across the clinical spectrum of the disease. His current interests in the lab focus on exploring working memory-related functional connectivity disturbances in preclinical AD and exploring the differences in the preclinical working memory profile between familial and sporadic AD. Josh is a non-Native, proficient English-Spanish bilingual and is passionate about improving Alzheimer’s disease assessment and care among Latinx individuals. In his spare time he enjoys playing tennis, watching movies, traveling, playing board games with friends, and going to the dog park with his fiancée, Kate, and his golden doodle (Sully).

  • Martha Cecilia Muñiz, BA, MA

    Clinical Research Coordinator

    Martha received her BA in psychology (’08) and MA in psychology (’12) degrees from San Diego State University and Boston University, respectively. She has worked in public health research (Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos), aging and Alzheimer’s disease research at the University of California (San Diego), and has been a research coordinator at the Harvard Aging Brain study (HABS) since 2016. Currently, she assists in data collection, outreach efforts, and coordinates the newly funded Spanish speaking cohort of HABS. She is excited to work closely with the Multicultural Alzheimer Prevention Program team and to continue learning about aging and cognition in older adults within and outside the Latino community.

  • Arabiye Artola, BA, MHS

    Clinical Research Coordinator

    Arabiye received her bachelor’s degree with a major in public health from Johns Hopkins University (’16) and received her master’s degree in public health with a concentration in mental health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (’17). She joined the lab in September 2017 as the Boston-site clinical research coordinator for Dr. Quiroz’s project on familial early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Arabiye’s is interested prevention of mental disorders with a focus on the impact of mindfulness. Currently she is working on the cognitive and behavioral profiles of adolescents in the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative in Colombia. In her free time she enjoys crafting, cooking, and yoga.

  • Heirangi Torrico-Teave, BS

    Clinical Research Coordinator

    Heirangi joined Dr. Quiroz’ laboratory in August of 2018. She completed her bachelors of science with a major of psychology and a minor in neuroscience at University of Maryland (’17). Her previous lab work focused on anxiety related disorders in children at Johns Hopkins Medical Institute, followed by cognition and emotion in adults at her university, and ADHD in children at Princeton University. Heirangi is interested in the effects of emotion mediated by autosomal dominant inherited disorders from a neuroimaging perspective. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, creating art, snowboarding and yoga.

  • Jairo E. Martinez, BA

    Clinical Research Coordinator

    Jairo is a clinical research coordinator of the Multicultural Alzheimer’s Prevention Program (MAPP) within the Familial Dementia Neuroimaging Lab. He completed his bachelor’s degree in 2018 with a major in Neuroscience and Behavior from Columbia University. Before joining MAPP, he worked with the Harvard Aging Brain Study during the summers. Currently, his interests include investigating how cardiovascular risk factors may be related to cognitive decline and pathology in a population with autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease. In his free time, he enjoys sketching, dancing, and spending time with friends and family.

  • Federico d’Oleire Uquillas, BA

    Clinical Research Coordinator

    Fred studied cognitive neuroscience as an undergraduate in the psychology department of UC Berkeley. There he investigated the influence of dopaminergic drugs on working memory and brain networks as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute-funded Biology Fellow. Fred came to Boston after a two-year stint at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City where he helped investigate brain network organization in cocaine use disorder, intermittent explosive disorder, and romantic love. His interest for advancing innovative methodologies to tackle challenging scientific questions led him to MAPP. At MAPP, Fred helps with processing and analysis of structural and functional MRI markers of aging and familial Alzheimer’s disease dementia. When not in the laboratory he enjoys photography, cooking, and tasting food around the local Boston area.

  • Ana Baena, BA

    Clinical Research Coordinator

    Ana received her undergraduate degree with a major in psychology from the University of Antioquia (Colombia), and is currently working towards completing her master’s degree in neuropsychology. She joined the Group of Neuroscience of Antioquia as a neuropsychology psychometrician right after graduation. Ana’s current research interests include the study of risk factors that may affect the progression of cognitive impairment in Alzheimer's disease. For the past two years, she has worked as research study coordinator for Dr. Quiroz’s NIH grant on memory network dysfunction in preclinical Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Yesica Zuluaga, BA

    Clinical Research Coordinator

    Yesica received her undergraduate degree with a major in psychology from the Institución Universitaria de Envigado (Colombia) and is currently working towards completing her master’s degree in neuropsychology. She is part of the Group of Neuroscience of Antioquia, lead by Dr. Francisco Lopera, where she is the research coordinator for Dr. Quiroz’s project on subcortical vascular dementia and CADASIL (Cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leucoencephalopathy). Yesica is particularly interested in studying biomarkers of presymptomatic CADASIL.

Research Projects

Our lab is currently focused on two areas of research:

Preclinical markers of Alzheimer’s disease

The overall goal of this project is to study the impact of amyloid and tau pathology on memory function in preclinical stages of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and their role in subsequent neuronal death and cognitive decline.

This project leverages our access to two extraordinarily rich preclinical AD groups:

  1. The Colombian kindred with Presenilin 1 E280A mutation
  2. A group of asymptomatic older individuals who are participants in the Harvard Aging Brain Study (HABS) at Mass General and are considered at high risk (by molecular pathology imaging) to develop late-onset sporadic AD

The primary goals of this research are to:

  • Investigate abnormalities of associative-memory processes as a possible cognitive marker of preclinical AD
  • Investigate brain hyper-activity/hyper- connectivity as a marker of early AD pathology
  • Examine the role of tau and amyloid aggregation in memory network dysfunction

Neuroimaging markers for the differential diagnosis of young-onset dementias

This project examines the role of white matter disease and genetic and molecular factors on subtle cognitive decline in preclinical early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia and CADASIL (Cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leucoencephalopathy).

Publications

Quiroz YT, Budson AE, Celone K, Ruiz A, Castrillon G, Lopera F. Hippocampal hyperactivation in pre-symptomatic familial Alzheimer’s disease. Ann Neurol 2010; 68 (6): 865-875.

Quiroz YT, Ally BA, Celone K, Mckeever J, Ruiz A, Lopera F, Stern CE, Budson AE. Event-related potential markers of brain changes in preclinical familial Alzheimer’s disease. Neurology 2011; 77(5): 469-475.

Fleisher AS, Chen K, Quiroz YT, Jakimovich LJ, Gutierrez-Gomez M, Langois CM, Langbaum JBS, Ayutyanont N, Roontiva A, Thiyyagura P, Lee W, Mo H, Lopez L, Moreno S, Acosta-Baena N, Giraldo M, Garcia G, Reiman RA, Huentelman MJ, Kosik KS, Tariot PN, Lopera F, Reiman EM. Age-associated fibrillar amyloid-β deposition in the presenilin 1 E280A autosomal-dominant Alzheimer's disease kindred: a cross-sectional study. Lancet Neurol 2012; 11(12):1057-1065.

Reiman EM*, Quiroz YT*, Fleisher AS, Chen K, Velez-Pardo C, Jimenez-Del-Rio M, Fagan AM, Shah AR, Alvarez S, Arbelaez A, Giraldo M, Acosta-Baena N, Sperling RA, Dickerson BC, Stern CE, Tirado V, Munoz C, Reiman RA, Huentelman MJ, Alexander GE, Langbaum JBS, Kosik KS, Tariot PN, Lopera F. Brain abnormalities in young adults at genetic risk for autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease. Lancet Neurol 2012; 11(12):1048-1056. * Contributed equally

Quiroz YT, Stern CE, Reiman EM, Brickhouse M, Ruiz A, Sperling RA, Lopera F, Dickerson BC. Alzheimer’s disease-signature cortical atrophy in presymptomatic AD presenilin-1 mutation carriers. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2013; 84(5): 556-561.

Rodriguez R, Lopera F, Alvarez A, Fernandez Y, Galan L, Quiroz YT, Bobes MA. Spectral analysis of EEG in familial Alzheimer’s disease due to E280A presenilin-1 mutation. Int Alzheimer's Dis 2014; 2014:180741.

Fleisher AS, Chen K, Quiroz YT, Jakimovich LJ, Gutierrez-Gomez M, Langois CM, Langbaum JBS, Roontiva A, Thiyyagura P, Lee W, Ayutyanont N, Lopez L, Moreno S, Munoz C, Tirado V, Acosta-Baena N, Fagan AM, Giraldo M, Garcia G, Huentelman MJ, Tariot PN, Lopera F, Reiman EM. Associations between biomarkers and age in the presenilin-1 E280A autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease kindred: a cross-sectional study. JAMA Neurol 2015; Jan 12. doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2014.3314.

Quiroz YT, Willment KC, Castrillon G, Muniz M, Lopera F, Budson AE, Stern C. Successful scene encoding in presymptomatic early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. J Alzheimer’s Dis 2015; vol. 47, no. 4, pp. 955-964.

Quiroz YT, Schultz A, Chen K, Protas H, Brickhouse M, Fleisher AS, Langbaum JB, Thiyyagura P, Fagan AM, Shah AR, Muniz M, Arboleda-Velasquez JF, Munoz C, Garcia G, Acosta-Baena N, Giraldo M, Tirado V, Ramirez D, Tariot PN, Dickerson BC, Sperling RA, Lopera F, Reiman EM. Brain imaging and blood biomarker abnormalities in children with autosomal-dominant Alzheimer's disease: A cross-sectional study. JAMA Neurol 2015 Aug 1; 72(8):912-919. doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2015.1099.

Aguirre-Acevedo DC, Lopera F, Henao E, Tirado V, Muñoz C, Giraldo M, Bangdiwala SI, Reiman EM, Tariot PN, Langbaum JB, Quiroz YT, Jaimes F. Cognitive Decline in a Colombian Kindred With Autosomal Dominant Alzheimer Disease: A Retrospective Cohort Study. JAMA Neurol. 2016 Apr;73(4):431-8. doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2015.4851.

Primo V, Graham M, Bigger-Allen AA, Chick JM, Ospina C, Quiroz YT, Manent J, Gygi SP, Lopera F, D'Amore PA, Arboleda-Velasquez JF. Blood biomarkers in a mouse model of CADASIL. Brain Res. 2016 Aug 1; 1644:118-26. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2016.05.008.

Mormino EC, Papp KV, Rentz DM, Donohue MC, Amariglio R, Quiroz YT, Chhatwal J, Marshall GA, Donovan N, Jackson J, Gatchel JR, Hanseeuw BJ, Schultz AP, Aisen PS, Johnson KA, Sperling RA.Early and late change on the preclinical Alzheimer's cognitive composite in clinically normal older individuals with elevated β-amyloid. Alzheimers Dement. 2017 Feb 27; pii: S1552-5260(17)30044-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2017.01.018.

Contact us

Familial Dementia Neuroimaging Lab

13th Street, Building 149, Room 10.014
Charlestown, MA 02129

Phone: 617-643-5944

Email us

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