Our Team

Director & Principal Investigator

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Kristine Yaffe, MD

Dr. Kristine Yaffe attended Yale University for her undergraduate degree and the University of Pennsylvania for her medical degree. She then completed residencies in both Neurology and Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Yaffe is the Scola Endowed Chair and Vice Chair, Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Epidemiology, and Director of the Center for Population Brain Health at the University of California, San Francisco. In her research, clinical work, and mentoring, she has directed her efforts towards improving the care of patients with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Dr. Yaffe is an internationally recognized expert in the epidemiology of dementia and cognitive aging. She serves as PI of almost a dozen NIH, Department of Defense, Veterans Administration, and foundation grants and is the foremost leader in identifying modifiable risk factors for dementia. She was the first to determine that potentially 30% of dementia risk is preventable. She pioneered early investigations on the roles of estrogen, physical activity, and cardiovascular factors in dementia risk, and more recently, her research group has led work on the connections between traumatic brain injury and risk of developing dementia and other neurodegenerative outcomes.  With almost 600 peer-reviewed articles dedicated to improving population brain health (H-index=146), her transformative research bridges neurology, psychiatry, and epidemiology and has formed the cornerstone for dementia prevention trials worldwide. In recognition of her groundbreaking work, Dr. Yaffe received the Potamkin Prize for Alzheimer’s Research in 2017 and was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2019.


Research Team


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Deborah Barnes, PhD is a Professor at UCSF in the Department of Psychiatry and a Mental Health Research Investigator at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Her research focuses on developing and evaluating strategies to maintain cognitive function and prevent or delay dementia onset in late life. Dr. Barnes also works on developing dementia risk prediction models that can be used to estimate the impact of risk factor reduction and to target prevention strategies toward those who are at greatest risk.


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W. John Boscardin, PhD is a biostatistician with a joint appointment as Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology & Biostatistics. His primary role with the Department of Medicine is as Director of the Statistical Laboratory for the Division of Geriatrics and for SFVAMC Health Services Research. His areas of methodological expertise include analysis of longitudinal and repeated measures data, treatment of missing data, Bayesian statistical modeling, and computational statistics.


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Willa Brenowitz, PhD, MPH is an Assistant Professor in the UCSF Department of Psychiatry. She is broadly interested understanding the role of multimorbidity in cognitive decline; her current research focuses on the relationship between sensory impairments (e.g. hearing and vision loss) and dementia in older adults.


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Amy Byers, PhD, MPH is an Associate Professor at UCSF in the Department of Psychiatry and a Mental Health Research Investigator at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Her research focuses on cognitive and health outcomes associated with psychological disorders among older adults, including late-life depression among older adults and the effects of late-life PTSD among U.S. veterans.


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Raquel Gardner, MD is an Associate Professor in Residence at UCSF in the Department of Neurology. She completed her internship in internal medicine and residency in neurology at UCSF and was a Behavioral Neurology Fellow at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center in 2012. Her research focuses on the cognitive and behavioral effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI) among older adults.


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Erica Kornblith, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist with advanced training in neuropsychology, and clinical interests include the assessment and treatment of the cognitive and emotional sequelae of TBI and acquired brain injury. Her research focuses on the rehabilitation of executive function in Veterans with TBI and polytrauma, identifying factors impacting response to cognitive rehabilitation intervention in this population, and using technology to increase access to cognitive rehabilitation, particularly for aging Veterans.


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Yue Leng, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the UCSF Department of Psychiatry. She received her PhD and MPhil in epidemiology from the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at the University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on the epidemiology of sleep, particularly the relationship between sleep, cognition and other health outcomes.


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Eric Vittinghoff, PhD is Emeritus Professor of Biostatistics in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at UCSF. As an applied statistician, he co-authored more than 600 peer-reviewed papers and was first author of a biostaistics textbook that is still in widespread use. His applied work focused on cognitive function and aging, women’s health, cardiovascular disease, and HIV.


Affiliated Faculty

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Katrina Abuabara, MD is an Associate Professor in the Division of Dermatology within the UCSF School of Medicine. Dr. Abuabara studies the impact of inflammatory skin disease on overall health and the role of the skin in the aging process. Her interdisciplinary approach combines genomic, physiological, environmental, and psychosocial variables to understand patient outcomes over time.


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Kaitlin Casaletto, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology at UCSF. Dr. Casaletto’s work focuses on applying novel molecular fluid biomarkers to highlight relevant neurobiological pathways related to resilient aging.


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Krista Harrison, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Geriatrics within the UCSF School of Medicine. Dr. Harrison’s work focuses on older adults living at home with advancing dementia and the quality of home-based medical care.


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Lauren Hunt, PhD, RN, FNP is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physiological Nursing at UCSF and an Atlantic Senior Fellow for Equity in Brain Health at the Global Brain Health Institute at UCSF. Her research focuses on hospice and end-of-life care for older adults with dementia.


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Ashwin Kotwal, MD is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Geriatrics within the UCSF School of Medicine. Dr. Kotwal’s research focuses on understanding and enhancing social connections of older adults to improve their quality of life and health care access.


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Alexandra Lee, PhD, MSPH is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Geriatrics within UCSF's School of Medicine. Dr. Lee studies diabetes in aging populations in order to inform and improve clinical decision-making. Her research aims to develop metrics to guide diabetes treatment decisions.


Postdoctoral Researchers

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Meredith Bock, MD is a Clinical Neurology Fellow at the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences. Dr. Bock’s research focuses on cognitive-behavioral changes in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and the association between apathy and dementia risk.


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Christina S. Dintica, PhD is a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF. Her work focuses on vascular risk factors and subclinical CVD markers in relation to cognitive outcomes and neuroimaging patterns of brain aging.


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Jennifer Eastman, PhD, earned her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, where she specialized in clinical neuropsychology. Her research is focused on neuropsychological assessment and neuroimaging of various clinical syndromes to better understand cognitive decline. This includes a special interest in understanding the impact of cancer-related cognitive impairment in older adults.


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Xiaqing Jiang, PhD, MPH, is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Psychiatry at UCSF. She received her PhD in Epidemiologic Science from the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on cardiovascular risk factors, multiple chronic conditions, and cognitive decline.


Affiliated Postdoctoral Researchers

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Matthew Growdon, MD, MPH is a geriatrician in the UCSF Division of Geriatrics and a T32 Aging Research Fellow. He is interested in health services research aimed at improving the quality of care for older adults with dementia and cognitive impairment, with an emphasis on improving prescribing practices in this population.


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Inbal Mayan, MD is an Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health at UCSF. Dr. Mayan’s work is focused on building different models of care for dementia patients with an emphasis on reducing hospitalizations and tailoring personal treatment options.



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Amber Bahorik received her PhD in social work from the University of Pittsburgh and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in substance abuse treatment and research at UCSF and the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research. She leads our data core and provides study design and analytic support.


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Kathy Fung is a Senior Statistician. She supports our studies focused on dementia risk in Veterans and collaborates on multiple analytic projects.


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Tina Hoang received her Master's of Science in Public Health from Emory University. She serves as the Yaffe Lab Manager, and her research with Dr. Yaffe focuses on modifiable risk factors for cognitive aging, including cardiovascular risk, with an emphasis on understanding these relationships over the life course.


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Carrie Peltz received her PhD in cognitive neuroscience with a focus on cognitive aging from the University of Illinois. Her work with Dr. Yaffe focuses on traumatic brain injury (TBI), dementia, and other military risk factors in Veterans. She also coordinates several clinical studies examining modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.


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Alice Roberts received her Master of Arts in anthropology from Florida Atlantic University. She serves as the Dr. Yaffe's research manager and focuses on pre- and post-award management of Dr. Yaffe's grants.


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George Schroeder is a Server & Analytics Administrator for Northern California Institute for Research and Education (NCIRE) and San Francisco VA. He maintains the Center's databases and servers.


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Sara Schweizer received her Bachelor of Science from New York University, and completed the post-baccalaureate program in Psychology at University of California, Berkeley. She works with Dr. Yaffe on developing the lab's communication platforms. An aspiring behavioral health clinician, she also coordinates Dr. Kornblith's rehabilitative research involving Veterans with TBI and polytrauma.


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Gary Tarasovsky works with several research groups at the San Francisco VA, UCSF, and NCIRE, including Dr. Yaffe's. Gary provides data management and database design for Dr. Yaffe’s ongoing prospective cohort studies


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Feng Xia received her Master of Public Health in Biostatistics from University of Georgia. She leads statistical analyses for several ongoing studies, including CARDIA and LIMBIC.