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7th Annual Department of Neurology Virtual Resident and Fellow Research Celebration

Our keynote speaker will be Dr. Sudha Seshadri, Professor of Neurology, Psychiatry and Cellular and Integrative Physiology at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio, Texas, Adjunct Professor of Neurology, Boston University School of Medicine and Senior Investigator and Director of Neurology and Neurogenetics at the Framingham Heart Study in Framingham Massachusetts.

Dr. Seshadri is the Founding Director of the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases and the Robert A. Barker Distinguished Professor of Neurology, Psychiatry and Cellular and Integrative Physiology at University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio Texas. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Neurology at Boston University School of Medicine and the Senior Investigator and Director of Neurology and Neurogenetics at the Framingham Heart Study. Dr. Seshadri is a senior investigator of the Framingham Heart Study since 1998, leading the study’s clinical neurology and neurogenesis cores since 2005. She is the principal investigator on 8 NIH funded grants and is an investigator, subcontract principal investigator and consultant to 12 additional grants. She has served on the Editorial Board for Neurology and Stroke, chaired a standing NIH Study Section (Neurology, Aging and Musculoskeletal Epidemiology) and has over 320 peer-reviewed publications (H-index 79, i10 index 209), including 57 in 2016. Dr. Seshadri helped to establish the neurology phenotype working group within the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) consortium. She lectures extensively, nationally and internationally, on Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and the genetics of stroke and vascular brain injury.

Her research focuses on 4 interrelated areas: (a) exploring the correlates of subclinical brain aging including establishing norms for brain MRI and cognitive test performance and relating these measures to novel risk factors (such as visceral fat mass), multiple circulating biomarkers and clinical and subclinical indices of vascular and metabolic disease; (b) the epidemiology of stroke and vascular cognitive impairment including the lifetime risk of stroke, cognitive decline and dementia following stroke, the role of parental stroke and midlife risk factors in determining late-life stroke risk and temporal trends in stroke risk over the past 50 years; (c) the epidemiology of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) including describing the lifetime risk of AD and relating traditional and novel biomarkers (homocysteine, lipids, diabetes, estrogen, bone mineral density, thyroid function, inflammation) to the risk of dementia and AD. She has been especially interested in exploring the role of reversible lifestyle, vascular and metabolic risk factors in determining dementia risk with a special focus on understanding the putative causal pathways and biomarkers, such as leptin and other adipokines, BDNF and other neurotrophic factors, in mediating this risk, and (d) understanding the genomic variation underlying brain aging, stroke, AD and vascular cognitive impairment. Her most significant research contributions have been (i) developing the concept of lifetime risk as applicable to dementia and other chronic diseases, (ii) helping to establish plasma homocysteine as an important risk marker for dementia and AD (including a first author paper in the NEJM in 2002 that has had over 1400 citations), (iii) relating low plasma leptin levels to the risk of dementia and AD (published in JAMA, 2009 as senior author), (iv) describing a novel gene, NINJ2, associated with ischemic stroke (NEJM, 2009 as corresponding author) and (v) describing two genes, BIN1 and EXOCL2, associated with Alzheimer disease in the largest, multi-centric genome-wide association study to date (JAMA, 2010 as first author).

In addition to her ground breaking and important research accomplishments, Dr. Seshadri is a wonderful clinician, teacher and mentor. Her connections to UMass date back to when she was the a fellow in the Neurobiology of Aging Program here at UMass under Dr. David Drachman.