Cognitive Disorders

The Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology Division works tirelessly to advance care of dementia and cognitive disorders through research, specialized clinical care and close connection with the University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center

Dr. Lopez focuses his research interests on Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and related dementias. He is the director of the University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and conducts both National Institute of Health and industry-sponsored experimental, therapeutic studies of AD. PITT-ADRC provides scientific leadership to multiple research projects at the University of Pittsburgh and to many other national and international consortium studies. Dr. Lopez’s key objectives have been to identify clinical or genetic factors that modify the natural history of dementing illnesses; he conducts studies on behavioral manifestations, risks and long-term outcomes of dementia – specifically AD. Dr. Lopez also has published papers examining the patterns of progression in all clinical forms of dementia, the examination of the effect of psychiatric drugs and dementia medication on the progression of AD. Dr. Lopez is currently conducting studies as principal investigator and co-investigator that look at the factors that modulate the transition from normal cognition to MCI/dementia in relationship t cerebral amyloid deposition; these studies examine how cardiovascular and cerebrovascular factors create a vulnerability state for AD, neurodegeneration and that that affects physiologically relevant compensatory mechanisms in the brain using MRI, FDG-PET, Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB) and tau-PET ligan technologies.

Dr. Patira focuses her research on Alzheimer’s Disease and various types of dementia, specifically frontotemporal dementia. Dr. Patira is a faculty member and leader of the frontotemporal dementia module at the PITT-ADRC. She also supports well-rounded resident education through the establishment of a cognitive disorders clinic and cognitive elective to the curriculum.

Dr. Snitz works with older patients to assess geriatric cognitive problems, specifically for the early detection and prediction of AD. She has conducted studies that decide whether subjective cognitive complaints in normal individuals can predict the deposition of beta-amyloid in the brain and progression to dementia. She is the principal investigator of the project, “Alzheimer Neuroimaging-biomarkers in pre-clinical cognitive decline from a population-based study.” In addition, she has key roles in multiple NIH-funded epidemiological, imaging, and clinical studies:

  • Leader of the Clinical Core of the NIA-funded program project grant ‘Imaging Pathophysiology in Aging and Neurodegeneration
  • Co-investigator on ‘MCI: A prospective community study’, a population study of predictors and outcomes of MCI in small-town Southwestern Pennsylvania;
  • Clinical Core leader of the PITT-ADRC
  • Site principal investigator of “Advancing Reliable Measurement in AD and Cognitive Aging (ARMADA), a multi-site study of the NIH-Toolbox
  • Clinical Core Team leader of the Human Connectome Project, “Connectomics in Brain Aging and Dementia.”

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