Oscar L. Lopez, MD, FAAN

  • Professor of Neurology, Psychiatry, & Clinical and Translational Sciences
  • Levidow - Pittsburgh Foundation Endowed Chair in Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias
  • Director, Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center
  • Chief, Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology Division

Dr. Lopez’ primary research interest has focused on the distribution (incidence and prevalence), behavioral manifestations, risks, and long-term outcomes of dementia, especially Alzheimer’s disease (AD). His key objectives have been to identify clinical or genetic factors that modify the natural history of dementing illnesses. He has published classic papers examining the patterns of progression of all clinical forms of AD. He has examined the effect of psychiatric drugs, and dementia medication on the progression of AD. He has pioneered long-term studies of the use of dementia medications. He has reported that the long-term use of cholinesterase inhibitors alone or in combination with memantine decreased the risk of nursing home admission, but not death. He is a coauthor of The American Psychiatric Association Practice Guideline on the Use of Antipsychotics to Treat Agitation or Psychosis in Patients with Dementia.

Dr. Lopez has conducted large scale studies in the clinical diagnosis of AD and vascular dementia, and he has published the first integrative overview and outcomes of the clinical diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia, which directly addressed the controversy regarding whether this neuropathological entity can be identified ante-mortem, especially when it coexists with Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Lopez has published the first study that linked the presence of Lewy bodies in the amygdala to the development of major depression in AD patients. 

Dr. Lopez is conducting large-scale study in the clinical diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and is coauthor of the American Academy of Neurology Practice Guidelines for MCI. Specifically, his research has focused on the understanding of the interactions among multiple cerebral and systemic risk factors in relationship to the clinical expression of AD – either as dementia or MCI. These studies suggested that vascular disease creates a vulnerability state to AD pathology and modulates its clinical presentation.  

Dr. Lopez is currently conducting studies of the factors involved in the transition from normal to MCI and to dementia in relationship to cerebral amyloid deposition. These studies examine how cardiovascular and cerebrovascular factors create a vulnerability state for AD and neurodegeneration, and how they affect physiologically relevant compensatory mechanisms in the brain using MRI, FDG-PET, Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB), and tau-PET ligands technologies 

Dr Lopez has conducted large scale studies to determine whether MRI/PET and blood biomarkers can predict subsequent cognitive impairment and AD pathology in non-demented elderly individuals. In addition, he is conducting studies to determine the prediction of dementia in normal individuals using plasma Aβ1-40 and Aβ1-42 levels, and other blood biomarkers.

Education & Training

  • MD, University of La Plata, Argentina, Medicine
  • Residency, Rivadavia Hospital, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Neurology
  • Fellowship, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Neurology, Behavioral Neurology

Specialized Areas of Clinical, Research and/or Educational Interests 

  • Research: Clinical symptoms and progression of AD and other dementias, biomarkers, risk factors for AD in cognitively normal persons.
  • Clinical: Cognitive disorders of multiple etiologies
  • Education: Research Training; Clinician-Educator Career Development

Professional Organization Membership

  • American Academy of Neurology
  • The Royal Society of Medicine (U.K.)
  • American Neurological Association
  • American Society of Behavioral Neurology
  • International Psychogeriatric Association

Honors & Awards

  • Distinguished Alumni (2013). Universidad Nacional (National University) of La Plata, La Plata, Argentina.
  • Endowed Chair (2015): Levidow-Pittsburgh Foundation Endowed Chair in Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Disorders
  • Honoree, University of Pittsburgh 41st Honors Convocation (2017). Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
  • Pittsburgh Magazine (2017); Best Doctors in Town, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
  • Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology (FAAN), November 2017.

Selected Recent Publications

Kuller LH, Lopez OL, Gottdiener JS, Kitzman DW, Becker JT, Chang Y, Newman AB. Subclinical Atherosclerosis, Cardiac and Kidney Function, Heart Failure, and Dementia in the Very Elderly. Journal of the American Heart Association.2017 Jul 22;6 (7). 

Petersen RC, Lopez OL, Armstrong M, Getchius TS, Ganguli M, Gloss, D, Marson D, Pringsheim T, Day GS, Sager M, Stevens JC, Rae-Grant AD. American Academy of Neurology Practice guideline for mild cognitive impairment. Neurology 2018 Jan 16; 90(3):126-135.

Lopez OL, Becker JT, Klunk WE, Mathis C, Price J, Aizenstein HJ, Snitz B, Cohen A, Ikonomovic M, Chang YF, Kamboh MI, Kuller LH. Amyloid deposition and brain structure as predictors of MCI, dementia and mortality in the oldest-old. Neurology 2018, May 22, 90(21): e1920-e1228.

Lopez OL, Chang YF, Ives DG, Snitz BE, Fitzpatrick AL, Carlson MC, Rapp S, Williamson JD, Tracy RP, DeKosky ST, Kuller LH. Blood amyloid levels and risk of dementia in the Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory Study (GEMS): A Longitudinal Analysis. Alzheimers & Dementia. 2019 Aug 15(8): 1029-1038. 

Lopez OL, Klunk WE, Mathis CA, Snitz BE, Chang YF, Russell TP, Kuller LH. Relationship of amyloid Aβ-40 and Aβ-42 in blood and brain amyloid: Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory Study. Brain Communications, 2020. 2(1): fcz038.