Penn Memory Center Leadership
Dr. Jason Karlawish is a Professor of Medicine, Medical Ethics and Health Policy, and Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. He is board-certified in geriatric medicine.
Dr. Karlawish is a Senior Fellow of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, Senior Fellow of the Penn Center for Public Health Initiatives, fellow of the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute on Aging, Director of the Penn Neurodegenerative Disease Ethics and Policy Program, Associate Director of the Clinical Core and Co-Associate Director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center, and Co-Director of the Penn Memory Center. He is also Director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Center’s Outreach, Recruitment and Education Core. In addition, he directs the Penn Prevention Research Center’s Healthy Brain Research Center, a member of the CDC-supported Healthy Brain Research Network dedicated to surveillance, education, awareness, and empowerment that promotes brain health.
He is also the project leader of makingsenseofalzheimers.org, a creative space for understanding the past, present and future of Alzheimer’s disease. Produced by the Penn Neurodegenerative Disease Ethics and Policy Program and the Outreach, Recruitment and Education Core of the Alzheimer’s Disease Center at the University of Pennsylvania; and made possible by a startup grant from MetLife Foundation, the website launched in September 2014. Making Sense of Alzheimer’s is an evolving forum for conversation about the disease. Its collection of ideas captures the many dimensions of Alzheimer’s, through the perspective of caregivers, patients, artists, researchers and clinicians. Utilizing multi-media formats such as slideshows, video, and audio clips, along with written stories, the site explores the changing understanding of what Alzheimer’s is and how it affects our ethics and ideas of personhood.
His research focuses on neuroethics and policy. He has investigated issues in dementia drug development, informed consent, quality of life, research and treatment decision-making, and voting by persons with dementia. To learn more about his research and scholarship, visit www.jasonkarlawish.com. Dr. Karlawish also writes a recurring column for Forbes that can be found at www.forbes.com/sites/jasonkarlawish/.
Dr. Karlawish is accepting new patient appointments through the Penn Memory Center. To schedule an appointment, call 215-662-7810.
Dr. David Wolk is an Associate Professor of Neurology in the Cognitive Neurology Division of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. He is board-certified in Neurology.
Dr. Wolk is the director of the Clinical Core and co-associate director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center and is co-director of the Penn Memory Center. He completed his medical training at Johns Hopkins University, a Neurology residency at the University of Pennsylvania, and clinical Fellowship training in Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. He also completed a post-doctoral research fellowship studying memory in Alzheimer’s Disease there. Prior to his return to Penn, he was an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh and their Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.
Dr. Wolk’s research has focused on memory measures and other markers that allow for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). One of the major challenges in the diagnosis of very early Alzheimer’s disease is differentiating the memory failures associated with the normal aging process from those reflecting early AD pathology. As such, his research currently focuses on memory changes in healthy aging, Mild Cognitive Impairment, and AD using Event-Related Potentials (a form of EEG), MRI (including structural and functional measures), and novel psychometric testing. It is hoped that these methods will contribute to early detection and intervention with emerging treatment modalities.
Dr. Wolk is accepting new patient appointments through the Penn Memory Center. To schedule an appointment, call 215-662-7810.
Felicia Greenfield is the executive director of the Penn Memory Center. She earned a master’s in social work from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008 and completed her clinical training from the University of Pennsylvania’s Section of Geriatric Psychiatry in 2011. Greenfield joined PMC in 2006 and previously served as the director of clinical research operations and care programs. Felicia oversees clinical research operations at the Center. She supervises master’s level social work interns from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice and provides counseling and education about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias to patients and their families.
Dr. Bollampally, of Wall Township, NJ, joined the Penn Memory Center in 2015 as an instructor in the Division of Geriatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
She earned her B.A. in Health and Societies from the University of Pennsylvania, received her medical degree at the Rowan School of Osteopathic Medicine (formerly UMDNJ) and completed her Internal Medicine Residency and Chief Residency year at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia.
Dr. Bollampally completed her Geriatrics Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Roy H. Hamilton is an Associate Professor of Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. He is board certified in neurology.
He graduated from Harvard University Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with degrees in Medicine and Health Sciences Technology. He completed residency in Neurology and a fellowship in Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology, both at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.
In addition to evaluation and care he provides patients through the Penn Memory Center, Dr. Hamilton is actively engaged in neurology research. The central aim of his research is to define the mechanisms and limits of functional plasticity in the intact and injured adult human brain. As the director of the Laboratory for Cognition and Neural Stimulation at Penn, Dr. Hamilton uses a combination of behavioral measures and noninvasive brain stimulation techniques, including transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), to elucidate structure-function relationships related to normal cognition and to promote therapeutic reorganization of neural representations of cognitive functions in individuals who have suffered from stroke.
Outside of his research, Dr. Hamilton teaches medical students and neurology residents in multiple venues and is the associate director of Penn’s Clinical Neurosciences Training Program. Dr. Hamilton is also deeply involved in issues related to diversity in medicine, inclusion, and health equity. He is one of the Assistant Deans for Diversity and Inclusion at the Perelman School of Medicine and the inaugural Vice Chair for Diversity and Inclusion in the Department of Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania.
Sanjeev Vaishnavi, MD, PhD is an assistant professor of Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine. He is board certified in Neurology, and has fellowship training in cognitive neurology with an emphasis on Alzheimer’s disease and related diseases.
Dr. Vaishnavi graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology with a B.S. in Applied Biology and then studied medicine (M.D.) and doctoral training (Ph.D. in Neuroscience) at Washington University in St. Louis as part of the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP). He then came to the University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine to train in Neurology, including a UCNS-certified fellowship in Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology.
Dr. Vaishnavi specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of older adults with cognitive impairment and dementia, including Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative conditions, and training medical students, neurology residents, and fellows to be the next generation of leaders. His research has focused on using advanced imaging techniques including functional connectivity MRI and PET to understand learning and aging related changes in the resting human brain, and at the Penn Memory Center, he does clinical research to discover better ways to diagnose and treat neurodegenerative diseases, with an emphasis on early diagnosis and prevention.
Dr. Vaishnavi is accepting new patient appointments through the Penn Memory Center. To schedule an appointment, call 215-662-7810.
Research Physician Assistant
Sharon joined Penn Memory Center in 2018 as a Research Physician Assistant. Her primary duty is to assist the team of neurologists, geriatricians, neuropsychologists, and social workers to develop innovative approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease. Sharon’s role is also to assist the Penn Memory Center physicians in the care of their patients, in the PMC clinic at the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine.
Sharon graduated with a Master’s Degree from the Physician Assistant Program at Drexel University in 2003. She has served as Academic Director and Full-time Faculty in PA Programs both here in Pennsylvania and in Florida. She trained in the specialty of Neurology with Abington Neurological Associates, and she assisted in the development of a novel Inpatient Teleneurology Program with faculty and the Senior Director of Neuroscience at Thomas Jefferson University.
Dr. Lauren McCollum is a Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology Clinical Fellow in the Penn Memory Center. She received her medical degree from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. She remained in Philadelphia for an Internal Medicine internship at Pennsylvania Hospital, followed by Neurology residency training at Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. During medical school, her research focus was on metaphor comprehension under the mentorship of Anjan Chatterjee, MD, and during residency she researched abnormal eating behaviors and other clinical findings in progranulin-associated frontotemporal dementia in collaboration with David Irwin, MD. Now that she is part of the Penn Memory Center, Dr. McCollum is undertaking research in the field of Alzheimer’s Disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment. Before beginning her medical career, her main interest was in writing poetry, and she possesses a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Creative Writing from Princeton University and a Master of Fine Arts degree from New York University in Creative Writing – Poetry. Dr. McCollum endeavors to apply the creativity, compassion, and communication abilities that she honed on her non-traditional path to medicine as she engages in the care of patients and their families in the Penn Memory Center.
Linnea Pepper, MD joined the Penn Memory Center in 2018 as a geriatrics fellow. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. Pepper completed her B.S. in Molecular Biology (double majoring in French) at Auburn University in 2011. She received her MD from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she was introduced to geriatric medicine and memory disorders as a Reynolds Scholar. In 2015 she moved to Philadelphia where she completed her residency in internal medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Her clinical interests include memory disorders, particularly Alzheimer’s disease. Her research interests are broad and still very much in development, but include cognitive frailty and the effects of anesthesia and surgery on cognition.
Penn Memory Center Scholars
Cara Kiernan Fallon, PhD, MPH is a Penn Memory Center Scholar. Dr. Fallon completed a PhD in the History of Science at Harvard University and an MPH at the Yale School of Public Health. Her doctoral dissertation, “Forever Young: The Social Transformation of Aging in America Since 1900,” examined the rise of the healthy aging practices in the twentieth century alongside evolving relationships between medicine, public health, the commercial marketplace, and aging Americans. Prior to her doctoral work, she earned a master’s degree in public health at the Yale School of Public Health and completed her undergraduate degree in the History of Science/History of Medicine at Yale University, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. Her postdoctoral research analyzes ethical and policy issues surrounding caregiving, quality of life, and concepts of health in old age.
Mohamad Habes, PhD, is a Penn Memory Center Scholar and an Instructor in the Department of Radiology at the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Habes obtained his undergraduate degree in Computer Science from Stuttgart, Germany in 2008. He completed in 2010 a master’s degree in Medical Computer Science from Dortmund and the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine in Jülich Research Center, Germany. By the end of 2014, he obtained a Doctor of Natural Sciences of Medicine Degree in Medical Image Analysis for large-scale population studies from the University of Greifswald in Germany. To the end of his PhD, he achieved the Young Scientist Promotion Award of the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation to conduct research on novel neuroimaging techniques for the aging brain in the Radiology Department at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2017, he was appointed to the position of Instructor in the Department of Radiology at the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Habes leads an interdisciplinary research program whose translational scope includes medical image analytics and population neuroscience. Dr. Habes has been playing a leading role in a large consortium, named iSTAGING, which brings together more than 15,000 MRIs into a big-data-analytics paradigm aiming to characterize typical brain aging. Dr. Habes also leads efforts to relate deviations from typical brain aging with cognition, genetic risk factors, and clinical risk factors. This is one of the largest efforts internationally to leverage advanced analytics to characterize the heterogeneity of brain aging. Moreover, Dr. Habes has particular interest in the role of cerebrovascular disease in advanced brain aging and dementia.
Emily Largent, PhD, JD, RN is an Assistant Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the Perelman School of Medicine and a Senior Fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics. Dr. Largent studies the ethics of human subjects research. Her current research focuses on the ethics of paying research participants for their contributions to clinical research and on the ethical and regulatory implications of integrating clinical research with clinical care. Her work — which combines normative, empirical, and legal methods — has been published in the Hastings Center Report, the American Journal of Bioethics, and the Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics, among other journals. She co-authored Clinical Research Ethics Consultation: A Casebook (Oxford University Press).
Dr. Largent received her Ph.D. in Health Policy from Harvard and her J.D. from Harvard Law School. Prior to that, she received her BS in Nursing from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and completed a fellowship in the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health.
Karolina Lempert, PhD joined the Penn Memory Center in 2016 as a Penn Memory Center postdoctoral scholar. She received her bachelor’s degree in neurobiology at Harvard and her Ph.D. in psychology at NYU. Dr. Lempert is working on studies looking at how changes in episodic memory with aging might lead to changes in economic decision-making. Her doctoral dissertation was about the role emotion plays in economic decisions. Dr. Lempert is looking forward to applying what she learned in her higher education to the geriatric population in order to learn more about the neuroscience of decision-making.
Shana Stites, PsyD, MA, MS, is an Instructor in the Division of Geriatric Medicine. She is a clinical psychologist and a researcher with the Penn Project on Precision Medicine for the Brain (P3MB). Dr. Stites studies the ethical, legal, and social challenges of advances in precision medicine for neurological and psychiatric diseases.
She studies advances in the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease dementia and their impact on individuals with the disease and their family members. Dr. Stites uses a patient-centered approach, studying the experiences of persons who are living with Alzheimer’s disease and those participating in Alzheimer’s prevention research, to understand ways to promote quality of life and psychological wellbeing in individuals living with the disease. She hopes to determine what changes may be needed in both clinical care and public policy to promote safe and effective translation of advances from research into routine care.
Dr. Stites earned a doctorate in clinical psychology from Chestnut Hill College and MA in Sociology from Lehigh University. She completed her internship at Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center. Her clinical concentration was in psychological assessment with a special focus on the role of diversity in inclusion in clinical practice and representation in research.
Laura Wisse, PhD is a postdoctoral fellow at Penn who works with Dr. David Wolk and Dr. Paul Yushkevich from the Department of Radiology. Her main interests are imaging of the medial temporal lobe in aging and diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Major Depressive Disorder. She is involved in the development of new tools for assessing medial temporal lobe structures, but she is also interested in investigating how these medial temporal lobe structures relate to aging, disease and cognitive functions, such as memory. Dr. Wisse is part of the Penn Image Computing and Science Lab and the Hippocampus Gang led by Dr. Paul Yushkevich.
Dr. Wisse received her PhD in Neuroscience and MSc in Epidemiology from Utrecht University in The Netherlands in 2014. She also obtained an MSc in Psychology from Leiden University in The Netherlands in 2010.
Sarah Bujno is a Penn Memory Center social work intern from the University of Pennsylvania where she will receive her Master of Social Work in 2019 and her Master of Public Health in 2020. During her internship at PMC, Sarah will perform data analysis, program evaluation, and research. She is passionate about improving health equity and program efficacy for older adults. She is a Penn Aging Scholar and Public Health and Cognitive Aging program participant. She also assists with research at Penn’s Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy.
Nora Garland is a social work intern at PMC and a second year Master of Social Work student in the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania. Nora will complete her clinical training both at the Penn Memory Center and Penn Neurology. She is originally from Central New Jersey and earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Human Development and Family Studies at Michigan State University. Nora is passionate about helping individuals, families and older adults. At PMC and Penn Neurology, Nora looks forward to working with patients diagnosed with cognitive impairments as well as their caregivers.
Alison Lynn, MSW, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker and the Associate Director of Social Work at the Penn Memory Center. Alison earned her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016, and completed her clinical training at the Penn Memory Center and the Section of Geriatric Psychiatry. Alison provides counseling, education and individual psychotherapy to patients and their family caregivers, and supports PMC’s Memory Café, Caregiver Class, and monthly support groups. Alison also works to recruit and schedule participants for the NACC research program.
Laura Vargas is a social work intern at Penn Memory Center. She is a second-year Masters of Social Work student at University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice. Within the clinical MSW program, Laura is completing a specialization in Social Work in Health Care Settings and a specialization in Health and Mental Health of Older Adults. Laura graduated from the University of Michigan in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and International Studies and a minor in Community Action and Social Change.
Laura will be working with individuals who present to PMC for concerns of Dementia and their caregivers. She will also be involved with the Caregiver Support Group, Memory Café, and the intergenerational Building Bridges program between PMC and CHOP.
Matt Volpe is a social work intern and a clinical MSW student at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice. He is a member of the Penn Aging Certificate Program and is most interested in serving the mental health needs of older adults and families. Matt earned his BA from Pennsylvania State University and his MSLS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to his enrollment at Penn, Matt worked as an editor, a librarian, and most recently as the manager of an adult literacy program.
Kendra Andrew joined the Penn Memory Center in 2018 as an intern for Dr. Dawn Mechanic-Hamilton. She is primarily involved in the Memory Game study, but looks forward to assisting with other research projects. She completed her BS degree with a double-major in biology and psychology in 2015 from The College at Brockport, SUNY, and is currently a master’s student at Villanova University studying experimental psychology. Following graduation, Kendra plans to attend a doctoral program in clinical psychology with a specialization in neuropsychology to further explore neurodegenerative disease.
Keisha April, JD is a neuropsychology practicum student at Penn Memory Center. She is a doctoral student at Drexel University studying clinical psychology, with a concentration in forensic psychology. Her research focuses on racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system, evaluating outcomes for justice-involved individuals, and devising policy interventions to reduce these disparities. Her training has included performing cognitive assessment and forensic evaluations with both youth and adults. Prior to joining PMC, Keisha earned her juris doctor degree from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Princeton University.
Sarah Friedman, MA is a neuropsychology practicum student at the Penn Memory Center. She is a clinical psychology doctoral student at Widener University, with a concentration in Neuropsychology. At PMC, she will be involved in neuropsychological assessments with clinical and research patients. Her research will focus on the potential need for adjusted baseline normative data on a pediatric concussion neurocognitive measure. Sarah received her Masters in crisis and trauma studies from Tel Aviv University in Israel and her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania.
Hyun “Monica” Kim joined the Penn Memory Center in 2017 as a neuropsychology practicum student. In this role, Monica will administer neuropsychological assessments to patients and research participants and will assist Dr. Dawn Mechanic-Hamilton with the Cognitive Fitness Program.
Monica, a doctoral student in Clinical Psychology at Boston University, earned her Master of Science from Korea University in neurobiology and her bachelor’s degree in psychology from University of California San Diego.
Monica is interested in translational research in the context of cognitive rehabilitation to enhance cognitive and emotional functioning in the aging population. Monica is particularly interested in exploring the role of sleep in neuropsychological outcomes. Her previous research involved cross-sectional and longitudinal association between sleep/sleep disorders and structural MRI and neuropsychological performance in various epidemiological settings.
During her time at PMC, Monica is hoping to deepen her knowledge in neurodegenerative and memory disorders and gain experience in delivering cognitive and behavioral interventions that will help individuals who experience cognitive impairment.
Dr. Mechanic-Hamilton joined the Penn Memory Center in 2012. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Neurology and director of Cognitive Fitness Programs and Neuropsychological Services at the Penn Memory Center. She earned her PhD in clinical psychology with a concentration in neuropsychology from Drexel University. She completed her internship at Brown University and postdoctoral fellowship in clinical neuropsychology at the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Mechanic-Hamilton’s research and clinical work focuses on neuropsychological assessment and cognitive and behavioral intervention in patients with cognitive impairment. She is involved in ongoing clinical trials at the Penn Memory Center, is a collaborator on multidisciplinary research projects, and supervises trainees from clinical psychology doctoral programs in the Philadelphia region.
Jillian Tessier is a doctoral student at Drexel University studying clinical psychology, with a focus in neuropsychology. She is currently completing a clinical practicum at the Penn Memory Center, performing neuropsychological assessments with clinical and research patients. Her research centers on the impact of sleep problems on cognition, emotional processing, and vocational outcomes in traumatic brain injury. Jillian earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2012.
Hannah has been a psychometrist at the Penn Memory Center since 2004. She administers cognitive testing to patients and other research participants at the PMC, and conducts testing at outreach sites such as the Ann’s Choice Retirement Community in Warminster, PA. Hannah also coordinates the Stress, Cognition, and Resilience Study. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in History and Philosophy.
Mitali Purohit joined Penn Memory Center in 2018 as a Clinical Research Coordinator. She administers cognitive and neurological assessments to research participants and patients. Prior coming to PMC, Mitali worked at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center where she was involved in clinical trials for a smoking cessation study for schizophrenia. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Mumbai University and has a Master’s degree in Psychology from Chatham University, Pittsburgh.
Maramawit Abera joined the Penn Memory Center in December 2018 as a Research Coordinator for Dr. Karlawish. She is a graduate student in the Master of Public Health program at the University of Pennsylvania, with an expected graduation date of December 2019. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Health and Societies and a minor in Africana Studies from the University of Pennsylvania in May 2018. After earning her MPH, she plans to attend Law School.
Martha joined the Penn Memory Center in 2010 after working at Sanofi Aventis as a Clinical Project Assistant and elsewhere as a research coordinator on psychiatric studies. Currently, as a Senior Research Coordinator, she works with patients and families completing several studies including IGIV, LFAN and GE005. She also guides the efforts of her assigned research coordinators, and manages interaction between the PMC and the Penn Institutional Review Board (IRB), the body which regulates protocol and conduct of university research studies. Martha has a BS from Boston College and an MS from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) – Hartford Graduate Center campus.
Melissa joined the Penn Memory Center in 2018 as the clinical research coordinator for the REVEAL-SCAN study. Before coming to the PMC, Melissa worked at the Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies on several studies in the field of addition. Her primary focus was running a clinical trial involving the reduction of drug and alcohol cravings with paced breathing and assisting in data analysis. She also served as the volunteer coordinator for the Cardiac Neuroscience Laboratory. Melissa earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in cognitive science from the University of Pennsylvania in 2015 and is looking forward to exploring graduate studies in the future.
Matthew Ferrara joined Penn Memory Center in 2018 as a Clinical Research Coordinator working on the NACC study. Before coming to PMC, he was a Clinical Research Assistant at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Nicotine Addiction. Matthew earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Neuropsychology from Penn State University in 2016. He is pursuing a Master’s degree in the Counseling and Mental Health Services program at Penn and hopes someday to earn a Ph.D. in Clinical Neuropsychology to continue working in the field of neurodegenerative disease as well as traumatic brain injury.
Kristin joined the Penn Memory Center in 2007. As Research Program Manager, Kristin oversees the research and administrative activities of the Penn Program on Precision Medicine for the Brain (P3MB). Kristin graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Master of Public Health Program in 2017. She earned her undergraduate degree in psychology at Truman State University.
Melissa Kelley joined the Penn Memory Center in 2019 as a Clinical Research Coordinator for the ABC MRI study. Prior to working at Penn she was an aide for Occupational Therapists at the Rothman Orthopaedic Institute. As an undergraduate research assistant she worked on research involving TMS as an intervention for stroke patients. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and a minor in Psychology from the University of Delaware in 2016.
Jackie Lane joined the Penn Memory Center in 2017 as a Research Specialist for Dr. David Wolk. Jackie is a research coordinator for the NACC-TPI (the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center) and NACC-API studies, which are comprehensive research efforts collecting ongoing individual data from participants in order to research Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, and life-long brain health. Jackie attended Swarthmore College for her undergraduate studies, receiving dual degrees in biology and cognitive science. Jackie is looking forward to building her research experience at the Penn Memory Center. In the future, Jackie also hopes to pursue a master’s degree in public health.
Sean Lydon is a Clinical Research Coordinator for the Goal-Directed Behavior (GDB) app study, a collaborative project under Dr. Dawn Mechanic-Hamilton and Dr. Lauren Massimo of the Frontotemporal Degeneration Center. He joined Neurology department in 2018. Previously, Sean worked in the Department of Psychiatry on continuum of care for individuals addicted to alcohol. He earned a BS in Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis and is currently enrolled in a post-bacc program here at the University of Pennsylvania. Sean will pursue a PhD to study neurodegenerative diseases and a career in research.
Jessica began working at the Penn Memory Center part-time while a high school student. She now coordinates studies, currently including ADNI 2 and Pfizer-Bapi; conducts screenings and administers psychometic testing to Spanish-speaking patients and study participants, and assists as needed with patient visit flow. Jessica is fully bilingual in English and Spanish.
Arun joined the Penn Memory Center in September 2015 as a research specialist for Dr. David Wolk’s studies. Before joining PMC, he worked in mental health settings for two years as a mental health counselor under the supervision of licensed psychiatrists. Arun graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from William Paterson University in 2012 and attended a graduate program at Temple University’s School of Social Work before switching his career path to medicine. He is also a post-baccalaureate student at Penn and plans to attend medical school in the near future.
Mitali joined Penn Memory Center in 2018 as a Clinical Research Coordinator. She administers cognitive and neurological assessments to research participants and patients. Prior coming to PMC, Mitali worked at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center where she was involved in clinical trials for a smoking cessation study for schizophrenia. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Mumbai University and has a Master’s degree in Psychology from Chatham University, Pittsburgh.
Laura joined the Penn Memory Center in 2018 as a Clinical Research Coordinator and is currently working on the LEADS and Pegasus studies. Before coming to PMC, Laura worked at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where she focused her research on exploring approaches to optimize treatment for individuals with comorbid mental illness and HIV/AIDS. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Anthropology from Lehigh University and has a Master’s degree in Psychology from Southern New Hampshire University.
Grace Stockbower, MPH is a Clinical Research Project Manager at the Penn Memory Center. She joined PMC in 2013 as a research specialist for Dr. David Wolk. Now, Grace is involved in the project management and study coordination of the Biogen, Pegasus and LEADS trials. She received a BS in Psychology with a minor in Neuroscience from Haverford College in 2013, and earned her Master’s in Public Health from the University of Pennsylvania in 2017.
Loren joined the Penn Memory Center in 2015 as a Clinical Research Assistant. She has worked in various clinical research positions for more than 10 years. Loren has her medical assistant certificate and an AS in culinary arts, and she is studying medical billing and coding.
Allison comes to PMC after earning her bachelor’s degree in brain and cognitive sciences from the University of Rochester. In college, she worked in an Alzheimer’s disease lab at the Rochester School of Nursing.
She plans to pursue a career as a physician’s assistant or physician, focusing on geriatrics or neurology.
Terrence Casey is the communications and marketing manager for the Penn Memory Center, the Healthy Brain Research Center, and the Neurodegenerative Disease Ethics and Policy Program.
He is the editor of InSight, the Penn Memory Center print newsmagazine, and various public e-newsletters. He designed and manages www.pennmemorycenter.org, the Penn Memory Center website; www.makingsenseofalzheimers.org, a creative space for understanding the past, present, and future of Alzheimer’s disease; www.mytypicalday.org, allowing older adults living with mild cognitive impairment to document their lives as they address their condition; www.whealthcare.org, which describes a paradigm of merging the banking and financial sector with healthcare; and www.stopelderexploitation.org the new website for the Philadelphia Financial Exploitation Prevention Task Force. Additionally, he plans and executes the annual Research Partner Thank You Luncheon for PMC research participants, as well as other study information sessions throughout the year. Terrence oversees a team of editorial assistants and freelance contributors to produce these projects.
Terrence graduated from Penn State University with a B.A. in journalism and worked as a journalist and editor before joining PMC in 2015.
Janissa Delzo joined the Penn Memory Center as an Editorial Assistant in September 2018. She is a graduate student in the Master of Public Health program at the University of Pennsylvania, with an expected graduation date of May 2019. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minors in health communication and sports communication from Emerson College in May 2016.
Janissa is also a freelance journalist whose writing has been published by CNN, Newsweek, Everyday Health, Teen Vogue, and Business Insider, among other outlets. She’s passionate about health and science communication, as well as, mentoring young students. In the summer of 2018, she co-led a New York Times Student Journeys trip to Switzerland and a National Geographic Student Expedition in California—both for high school students interested in science and communication.
Linnea Langkammer is an editorial assistant at the Penn Memory Center. She is a filmmaker and adjunct professor at Temple University with a diverse background in photography and neuroscience. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Film Studies and Behavioral Neuroscience from Connecticut College and went on to complete a Master’s in Film and Media Arts from Temple University. Her films explore the internal world, emphasizing a visual and visceral aesthetic. Number 32, her first short documentary, explores the emotional and ethical burden of animal experimentation on young researchers in the neuroscience field. Her recent work, Road Elegy and Facing East, continue this exploration while weaving compelling imagery, emotional stories, and moral ambiguities.
Joyce Lee is a Communications & Research Assistant at the Penn Memory Center. She contributes to all aspects of the Center’s communications and marketing initiatives, as well as to research initiatives in the field of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive aging, including the REVEAL-SCAN study.
Joyce graduated with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from Princeton University in June 2017 and also obtained minors in cognitive science and finance. At PMC, she looks to build her skills in science writing, communications, and research, and her knowledge in the field of neurodegenerative disease and cognitive aging. Joyce plans to continue on to medical school and pursue a career as a physician-writer in the future.
Sharnita Midgett is an editorial assistant at the Penn Memory Center and a current Master’s in Public Health candidate at La Salle University. She has a Bachelor’s in English and has interned as a writer for several organizations. When discovering her passion for health, she became a health communications intern for La Salle University and is currently working on a documentary with Dawn’s Place. She is a Gates Scholar who hopes to use media and communications for healthy change.
Lauren Bennett joined the Penn Memory Center in 2018 as a patient services associate. Prior to joining the PMC team, she worked for a prominent law firm, helping disabled citizens fight to get their social security benefits. She is currently studying nursing, with plans to become a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurse.
Courtney Coulter joined the Penn Memory Center in 2016 as a new patient care coordinator for the Penn Memory Center. With a background in customer service, Courtney has spent more than four years overseeing medical records, managing physician credentialing, and interacting with patients on a daily basis at a nursing and rehabilitation center. She earned her associate degree in business administration in 2013 and a BS in health administration in 2015, both from Gwynedd Mercy University. Courtney hopes to pursue a master’s degree in health administration.
Mariya is a rising senior at the University of Pennsylvania studying the Biological Basis of Behavior. She joined the Penn Memory Center in September 2017 as an independent-study student and will intern full-time this summer under the MindCORE Undergraduate Summer Fellowship. Mariya is currently working with Drs. David Wolk and Dawn Mechanic-Hamilton on the Memory Game study, and she helps with various neuroimaging studies at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience.
Shae Chambers, of Kailua, HI, joined the Penn Memory Center in 2016 as a clinical intern in the NACC study. She is an undergraduate student from the University of Pennsylvania and will be graduating in the Spring of 2019. Shae is majoring in the Biological Basis of Behavior and also conducts research in CHOP examining the neurological effects of repetitive brain injury on memory.
Rachel Fromer is a research intern at the Penn Memory Center. She is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in sociology with a concentration in health and medicine, minoring in statistics. Through her work at the Penn Memory Center, she hopes to gain an understanding of stigmas related to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and is particularly interested in the health outcomes and experiences of family caregivers. She plans to attend medical school after graduation.
Stefanie is a rising fourth year DO student at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. During her time at PCOM, Stefanie also completed a Master’s degree in Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. She maintains a special interest in bioethics medical education in both didactic years as well as clinical rotations and has published on this topic. Additionally, Stefanie has a passion for studying the interaction between the field of gastroenterology and neurological disease—in particular, the effect of the microbiome on neurological processes and pathology. With Dr. Shana Stites, she is currently looking at the evolution and current state of dementia research and the interaction between gut microbiota, amyloid and Alzheimer’s disease. Stefanie hopes to pursue a residency in Internal Medicine and Fellowship in Gastroenterology.
Jeanine Gill is a research assistant intern at Penn Memory Center. She is a current MPH student at the La Salle University School of Nursing and Health Sciences and is most interested in research involving data collection, statistical analysis and health planning for disadvantaged populations. Jeanine earned her BSc from Loyola University Maryland. Her knowledge garnered from research activities and volunteer work in various health organizations has inspired her to pursue a career in Epidemiology. She aspires to identify and analyze health issues to help develop policies that promote health equity for groups in need.
Emmanuel Henry-Ajudua is a research intern at the Penn Memory Center. At PMC, he helps coordinate Dance for Health. He is currently a second year master’s student at Drexel University School of Medicine Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, graduating spring 2019.
Emmanuel was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, but moved to Durham, NC in April of 2009. He graduated with two Bachelor’s of Science degrees in biology and pharmaceutical science from North Carolina Central University in 2017. At North Carolina Central University, he conducted research under the tutelage of Tomas Ding, PhD, studying the KMO pathway in relation to neurodegenerative diseases like Huntington’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. His career interest is first to matriculate into medical school and then get sufficient education and training to one day become a neurologist.
Nykko Vitali joined the Penn Memory Center in November 2018 as a research intern assisting with the ABC study. He is a transfer student from the Community College of Philadelphia that is currently a junior undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania. Nykko is a major in Psychology and is interested in cognitive enhancement, specifically how to improve memory and attention through non-invasive technology such as neurofeedback.
Project Management & Strategic Support
Dr. Kathryn Jedrziewski, Deputy Director of Penn’s Institute on Aging (IOA) since 2001, also serves as Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center (ADCC) Administrator. In that role, she is active in a nationwide network of fellow Center administrators on issues relating to the administration of NIH/NIA funds.
Dr. Jedrziewski received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1991. She has worked in gerontology and geriatrics for the past thirty years.
Business & Administrative Support
Maria joined Penn in 2007 as an administrative assistant in the Department of Psychiatry, Geriatric Psychiatry Section and took on support for Penn Memory Center administrative matters in 2008 under former director Dr. Steven Arnold. In May 2015, Maria took over as administrative coordinator to co-directors Dr. Jason Karlawish and Dr. David Wolk. She handles all administrative issues and assists in project management, event coordination, and financial activities for the PMC. She has an AS degree in Business Administration from Peirce College.
Information Technology & Database Management
Chris Ernst joined the Penn Memory Center as Data Manager in 2016. He is also the Senior Database Developer for the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research.
Chris received his undergrad degree at the University of South Carolina in 2011. He studied Information Management and Systems. Chris is hoping to earn his master’s degree in the future.
Chris is looking forward to streamlining and updating the Integrated Neurodegenerative Disease Database (INDD) as well as planning new software and hardware systems to assist CNDR, PMC and other associated centers and projects in their research goals.
Frances K. Barg, Ph.D., M.Ed. is a Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health at the Perelman School of Medicine. Her focus is in medical anthropology, and she is currently looking at community concerns related to asbestos exposure, contextual factors affecting the uptake of mental health services, and implementation science. Dr. Barg earned her B.A. in International Affairs from George Washington University, her M.Ed. in Rehabilitation Counseling from University of Pittsburgh, and her Ph.D. in Medical Anthropology from University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Amy Bleakley is a senior research scientist at the Annenberg School for Communication. Her research focuses on investigating media effects on health risk behaviors and using theory to create evidence-based health interventions. Specific content areas of interest within mostly adolescent populations include sexual behavior, tobacco use, STD/HIV prevention, and obesity-related behaviors, as well as media use and exposure. Dr. Bleakley has methodological and statistical expertise in survey research, structural equation modeling, and theory testing. Dr. Bleakley’s research has been published in numerous academic journals, including American Journal of Public Health, Pediatrics, JAMA Pediatrics (formerly Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine), Journal of Sex Research, Journal of Health Communication, Health Education and Behavior, Journal of Adolescent Health, and Media Psychology. She received her M.P.H. and Ph.D. in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University. She is assisting with the Messaging study.
Christos Davatzikos, Ph.D. is the Wallace T. Miller, Sr. Professor of Radiology and Electrical and Systems Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and in the Perelman School of Medicine. As Director of the Section of Biomedical Image Analysis, Christos is interested in many areas related to medical image analysis and computing, including image segmentation and registration, multiparametric image analysis, as well as the use of machine learning and pattern recognition in medical imaging. His group is affiliated with many clinical studies employing imaging as a biomarker of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, diabetes, and cancer. Dr. Davatzikos earned his B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the National Technical University of Athens and a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.
John A. Detre, M.D. is Professor of Neurology and Radiology at the Perelman School of Medicine where he is founding Director of the Center for Functional Neuroimaging in the Department of Radiology and serves as Vice Chair for Research in Neurology. He received his bachelors and medical degrees from Yale, completed fellowships in biophysics at both Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pennsylvania, and completed neurology residency at Penn, where he has been on the faculty since 1993. Dr. Detre is also among the core faculty of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, currently serving as interim co-director of this Center.
Dr. Detre has been continuously funded by NIH since 1993 and is the author of over 250 original manuscripts. Drawing upon his interdisciplinary training, collaborations, and leadership skills, Dr. Detre has provided core support for neuroimaging research on the Penn Campus through an NIH funded P30 Center Core in Neuroscience Neuroimaging that is now in its eleventh year and through the Center for Magnetic Resonance and Optical Imaging, where he leads a core on imaging brain structure and function. Dr. Detre has also been extremely active in mentoring of trainees from both biophysical and biomedical backgrounds. He has been the recipient of a Mid-career Award in Patient Oriented Research and Mentoring and an NIH training grant in neuroscience neuroimaging. He currently serves as Principal Investigator of an NIH training grant targeting the career development of academically oriented neurology residents and fellows, and he serves as a mentor for several trainees and junior faculty at Penn and neighboring institutions pursuing careers in biomedical neuroimaging.
Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH is George A. Weiss University Professor, Professor of Epidemiology in the Perelman School of Medicine, Professor of Nursing in the School of Nursing, and Director of the University of Pennsylvania Prevention Research Center. She is a Senior Fellow of the Leonard Davis Institute on Health Economics, the Center for Public Health Initiatives, and the Penn Institute for Urban Research, and a Distinguished Fellow of the Annenberg Public Policy Center. She was previously at Emory University (2004-2009), the University of Hawaii (1993 to 2004), and Temple University.
Joe Kable, Ph.D. is the Baird Term Associate Professor of Psychology at Penn. Research in his lab is concerned with how people make choices, and the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying decision-making. This work combines approaches from experimental economics, the psychology of judgment and decision-making, and social and cognitive neuroscience.
Recently Dr. Kable has used fMRI to show how the subjective value people place on immediate and delayed rewards is represented in a common neural currency. Some broad questions motivating his current research include: How seriously do people’s choices deviate from rational choice theory, and what do the neural value signals in such situations help explain about these deviations? How does decision making differ across individuals, and what are the sources—psychological, genetic, neural—of such individual differences?
Dr. Kable earned his B.S. in Chemistry from Emory University and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from University of Pennsylvania.
Kameron is a Research Specialist working with Dr. Karolina Lempert, assisting in her research on episodic memory and decision making in older adults. He received his bachelor’s degree in 2017 from the University of Michigan, where he studied biopsychology, cognition, & neuroscience. He hopes to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology.
Corey McMillan, Ph.D. is a Research Assistant Professor of Neurology at the Perelman School of Medicine and a member of the Neuroscience Graduate Group and Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics. Dr. McMillan holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience from Temple University, a Masters of Science in Psycholinguistics from the University of Edinburgh, and a Ph.D in Psychology from the University of Edinburgh.
Dr. McMillan’s research focuses on identifying cognitive and biological markers of neurodegenerative diseases like frontotempoeral lobar degeneration, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. His cognitive research focuses on the social and decision-making mechanisms that contribute to language processing deficits associated with neurodegenerative diseases. His biological research uses neuroimaging, genetics, and biofluids in an effort to improve early diagnosis and predict which protein is causing a disease in patients. Dr. McMillan’s biomarker research leverages sophisticated bioinformatic and statistical approaches to integrate multiple data sources in effort to identify precision medicine approaches for treating individual patients. Ultimately Dr. McMillan intends to integrate cognitive and biological tests to develop powerful methods for identifying patients for entry into clinical trials and for measuring the efficacy of drug treatments in the context of clinical trials.
Dr. Moberg serves as the consulting faculty neuropsychologist for the Penn Memory Center / Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC). He is also consulting neuropsychologist at the Parkinson’s Disease Research, Education and Clinical Center (PADRECC) at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Dr. Moberg is an Associate Professor of Neuropsychology in the Departments of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Otorhinolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He is the Director of Clinical Services for the Brain-Behavior Laboratory (BBL) in the Neuropsychiatry program and is the Co-Director of the Olfaction and Gustation Laboratory in the BBL.
He earned his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology/ Neuropsychology from the University of Health Sciences/The Chicago Medical School and completed an internship and postdoctoral fellowship in clinical neuropsychology at the University of Florida. Dr. Moberg is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA), Division 40 (Clinical Neuropsychology) of APA, the Pennsylvania Psychological Association (PPA), and the National Academy of Neuropsychology (NAN). He is board certified in Clinical Neuropsychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP).
Pamela L. Sankar, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Sankar has a B.A. from the University of Michigan in History of Ideas. She began her graduate training in Anthropology and Communications at Boston University and completed her Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania. She pursued post-doctoral training in health services research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine with a fellowship awarded by the Veteran’s Administration. Dr. Sankar’s research interests have included medical privacy and confidentiality, ethical and cultural implications of genetic research, research ethics, and genetics and race. Dr. Sankar’s research and scholarship have been funded by the Ayer Foundation, the Greenwall Foundation, the Charles E. Culpeper Foundation, and National Institutes of Health.
Dr. John Trojanowski is the William Maul Measey-Truman G. Schnabel, Jr. MD Professor of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine; Co-Director, Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research (CNDR); Director, Institute on Aging & Director (IOA); Director, Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center; and Director, Penn Udall Center for Parkinson’s Research
In addition, he co-directs the Marian S. Ware Alzheimer’s Program established in 2004. He is the principal investigator on the Penn Biomarker Core of the NIH/NIA Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), a landmark study launched by the National Institute on Aging to find methods for monitoring the progression of AD and improving methods of imaging, and the validation of biomarker data. Dr. Trojanowski is responsible for the neuropathology cores in several studies in collaboration with Alzheimer’s Disease Centers across the nation and Parkinson’s disease research projects.
Dr. Trojanowski’s work is exclusively neuropathology research-related; he does not conduct patient appointments.
Jordan Weiss is completing a joint PhD in Demography and Sociology and a master’s degree in statistics at Penn. He is interested in studying how life course histories shape trajectories of health with a focus on risk factors for cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. Jordan graduated from the University of Southern California with a BSc in Economics and Mathematics in 2012. Before coming to Penn, he worked as a statistician in the Center for Health and Community at the University of California, San Francisco.
Dr. Sharon Xie is an Associate Professor of Biostatistics in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and Director of the Biostatistics Core of Penn’s Alzheimer’s DIsease Core Center (ADCC).
Dr. Paul Yushkevich is an associate professor in the Department of Radiology and a member of the Bioengineering Graduate Group. His research focuses on developing novel computational methodologies for the analysis of biomedical imaging data.
Dr. Yushkevich is particularly interested in analysis techniques that are tailored to specific anatomical structures. His key work in this area involves automatic segmentation and morphometry of the hippocampal formation (HF) in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The HF plays a central role in memory function and is a site of early neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Yushkevich holds a Ph.D. in computer science from University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.