Our Team

Director & Principal Investigator

headshot of Kristine Yaffe

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. Dr. Yaffe and colleagues were 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 as well as on sleep as a risk factor and on life course exposures. With over 600 peer-reviewed articles dedicated to improving population brain health (H-index=153), 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

Faculty

headshot of Shea Andrews

 

Shea Andrews, PhD is an Assistant Professor at UCSF in the Department of Psychiatry and a genetic epidemiologist investigating genetic susceptibility to Alzheimer's disease (AD). He uses genetically informed causal inference methods to identify risk factors for AD and also researches the role of mitochondrial genetics in AD.

 

headshot of Deborah Barnes

 

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.

 

headshot of John Boscardin

 

W. John Boscardin, PhD is a biostatistician with a joint appointment as Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology & Biostatistics at UCSF. His areas of methodological expertise include analysis of longitudinal and repeated measures data, treatment of missing data, Bayesian statistical modeling, and computational statistics.

 

headshot of Willa Brenowitz

 

Willa Brenowitz, PhD, MPH is an Assistant Professor at UCSF in the 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.

 

headshot of Raquel Gardner

 

Raquel Gardner, MD is an Associate Professor in Residence at UCSF in the Department of Neurology and a Staff Physician at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Her research focuses on the epidemiology and mechanisms of long-term sequelae of traumatic brain injury in older adults, with the goal of improving outcomes in this vulnerable population.

 

headshot of Erica Kornblith

 

Erica Kornblith, PhD is an Assistant Professor at UCSF in the Department of Psychiatry and a Staff Neuropsychologist at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Her research focuses on rehabilitating executive function in Veterans with TBI and polytrauma, identifying factors that impact response to cognitive rehabilitation, and using technology to increase access to treatment.

 

headshot of Alexandra Lee

 

Alexandra Lee, PhD, MSPH is an Assistant Professor at UCSF in the Division of Geriatrics. 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.

 

headshot of Yue Leng

 

Yue Leng, PhD is an Assistant Professor at UCSF in the Department of Psychiatry. Her research focuses on the epidemiology of sleep, particularly the relationship between sleep, cognition, and other health outcomes.

 

headshot of Eric Vittinghoff

 

Eric Vittinghoff, PhD is a Professor at UCSF in the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics. His work focuses on cognitive function and aging, women’s health, cardiovascular disease, and HIV.

 


Affiliated Junior Faculty

headshot of Katrina Abuabara

 

Katrina Abuabara, MD is an Associate Professor at UCSF in the Division of Dermatology. 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.

 

headshot of Kaitlin Casaletto

 

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

 

headshot of Krista Harrison

Krista Harrison, PhD is an Associate Professor at UCSF in the Division of Geriatrics, an Atlantic Senior Fellow for Equity in Brain Health at the Global Brain Health Institute, and affiliated with the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies. Her research focuses on improving systems of care for home-dwelling older adults with dementia and other serious illnesses.

 

headshot of Lauren Hunt

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

 

headshot of Ashwin Kotwal

 

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

 


Postdoctoral Researchers

headshot of Meredith Bock

Meredith Bock, MD is a board certified neurologist and movement disorder specialist. She is a research fellow at the San Francisco VA's Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center (MIRECC) and UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences. Her research focuses on the intersection of movement and cognitive disorders, with an emphasis on cognitive changes associated with Parkinson's disease and related conditions.

 

headshot of Christina Dintica

 

Christina S. Dintica, PhD is an epidemiologist and postdoctoral fellow at UCSF. Her research focuses on vascular risk factors and subclinical cardiovascular disease markers in relation to cognitive outcomes and neuroimaging patterns of brain aging.

 

headshot of Jennifer Eastman

 

Jennifer Eastman, PhD is a research fellow at the San Francisco VA's Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center (MIRECC). Her research focuses on neuropsychological assessment and neuroimaging of various clinical syndromes to better understand cognitive decline, with a special interest in understanding the impact of cancer-related cognitive impairment in older adults.

 

headshot of Coles Hoffmann

 

Coles Hoffmann, PhD is a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF in the Department of Psychiatry. Her research focuses on modifiable risk factors of cognitive decline and dementia. 

 

headshot of Xiaqing Jiang

Xiaqing Jiang, PhD, MPH is a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF in the Department of Psychiatry. Her research focuses on cardiovascular risk factors, multiple chronic conditions, and cognitive decline.

 

headshot of Michele Diaz Nelson

 

Michele Diaz Nelson, RN, MS is a Clinical Nurse Specialist and a second-year Interprofessional Polytrauma and TBI Research Fellow at the San Francisco VA Medical Center. Michele’s research interests include exploring post-TBI health-related quality of life and how access to care, support, and ongoing rehabilitation may improve outcomes among older adults. 


Affiliated Postdoctoral Researchers

headshot of Matthew Growdon

Matthew Growdon, MD, MPH is a geriatrician at UCSF in the 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.

 

headshot of Inbal Mayan

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.

 


Staff

headshot of Amber Bahorik

 

Amber Bahorik, PhD leads our data core and provides study design and analytic support.

 

headshot of Kathy Fung

 

Kathy Fung, MS supports our studies focused on dementia risk in Veterans and collaborates on multiple analytic projects.

 

headshot of Tina Hoang

 

Tina Hoang, MPH focuses on modifiable risk factors for cognitive aging, including cardiovascular risk, with an emphasis on understanding these relationships over the life course.

 

headshot of Carrie Peltz

 

Carrie Peltz, PhD 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.

 

headshot of Alice Roberts

 

Alice Roberts, MA oversees Dr. Yaffe's grant portfolio and provides award management for Dr. Yaffe's many NIH, DoD, and foundation grants.

 

headshot of George Schroeder

 

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

 

headshot of Tamar Simone

 

Tamar Simone provides research support and assists in the daily coordination of study operations.

 

headshot of Feng Xia

 

Feng Xia, MPH leads statistical analyses for several ongoing studies at the Center, including CARDIA and LIMBIC.