Doug Galasko, MD Associate Director of the Shiley-Marcos ADRC Clinical Core is a neurologist who conducts clinical and basic research on Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other neurodegenerative disorders. In particular, he has focused on biological markers and genes related to AD and understanding the clinical course and novel therapeutics for AD. Together with collaborators, he has found that levels of the proteins tau and beta-amyloid protein in CSF are useful markers for AD. These biomarkers may be useful in identifying even the very early stages of AD. Dr. Galasko and colleagues also identified Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB) as accounting for about 15 percent of patients at our center, many of whom were originally thought to have AD. Dr. Galasko has contributed to diagnostic criteria for DLB and also studies cognitive decline in Parkinson’s Disease, which can overlap with DLB. He has recently helped to develop biomarkers in CSF related to synaptic damage in AD, and a specific CSF biomarker for DLB and PD. He has contributed to national efforts to develop Appropriate Use Criteria for CSF biomarkers for AD and is working on projects to help to develop and standardize blood tests that may help in screening for Alzheimer’s Disease. Dr. Galasko has been an investigator in a large number of academic and industry clinical trials for AD.
Gabriel Léger, MD completed his training in clinical neurology at the Montreal Neurological Institute of McGill University, where he also performed research in imaging of neurodegenerative diseases. He completed clinical fellowships in Movement Disorders at McGill, and in Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology at Northwestern University, Chicago. He returned to Montreal, where he was Assistant Professor and Director of the Neurology Residency program at the University of Montreal. In 2011, he moved to the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health of the Cleveland Clinic, Las Vegas, where he directed their fellowship program in Behavioral Neurology and Neuropsychiatry and their frontotemporal dementia (FTD or Pick’s disease) and young-onset dementia clinic. He has participated in numerous clinical trials targeting the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. In addition, he has special interests and expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of atypical and focal dementias, including FTD, Primary Progressive Aphasia, Posterior Cortical Atrophy, and dementia with Lewy bodies. He joined the neurosciences faculty at UCSD and the ADRC in July 2018.
Stephanie Lessig, MD Associate Professor and Vice Chair of Clinical Operations joined the Department of Neurosciences on July 1, 2007. She completed a fellowship in Neurotherapeutics and Movement Disorders and Neurology residency at University of California San Diego. Dr. Lessig received her medical degree at Stony Brook University School of Medicine. Currently, she serves as Director of Parkinson’s Disease Research, Education, and Clinical Centers Consortium (PADRECC) and head of the Clinical Trials Unit for Neurosciences. Her clinical focus is on treating patients with Parkinson’s disease and movement disorders, such as dystonia and ataxia. She also specializes in deep brain stimulation and botulinum toxin.Dr. Lessig’s research interests are Neurodegenerative Disorders such as Huntington’s disease. She is the Principal Investigator on four clinical trials for Parkinson’s disease.
Jose Soria-Lopez, MD was born and raised in Cuba before moving to the United States. He completed his undergraduate studies in Biological Sciences at Florida International University in Miami, Florida, and obtained his Medical Degree from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. He completed neurology residency training at UCSD and joined the SMADRC in 2018. He is currently furthering his training as a neurology fellow with a focus on neurodegenerative diseases. He is the first bilingual (Spanish/English) neurologist to conduct neurologic evaluations in the observational longitudinal study at the SMADRC.
Elizabeth Murphy, MD, Ph.D., is a neurologist who specializes in memory disorders and neurodegenerative diseases. She completed her undergraduate studies in mathematics at UCSD. She then went on to obtain her medical degree at UCSD medical school and a Ph.D. in neurosciences (specializing in the use of MRI to study neurodegenerative disease) under the supervision of Dr. Brewer. She completed her neurology residency in June 2019 and her fellowship in memory disorders in June 2020 at the UCSD Medical Center under the mentorship of Dr. Galasko and Dr. Léger. She recently joined the neurosciences faculty at UCSD and the ADRC in July 2020. She is originally from west Texas but has lived in San Diego since she was ten years old.
Kristoffer Nissinen, MD was born in San Diego, and in his first years moved to Finland where he spent the next 20 years of his life. He moved back to the United States in 2001 to pursue a degree in medicine. He completed his undergraduate studies in Biological Sciences at UCI after which he moved to Arkansas for medical school and obtained his MD from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences School of Medicine. He completed his neurology residency at UCI Medical Center and Long Beach VA in the spring of 2011. He is currently furthering his training at the ADRC as a Neurology Fellow with a focus on memory disorders and neurodegenerative diseases, which includes working with patients in clinical practice and clinical trials. In his spare time, he enjoys gardening, playing the guitar, walking, and cooking.
Mark Tuszynski, MD, Ph.D. is a Professor of Neurosciences at the University of California – San Diego, and the Founding Director of the UCSD Translational Neuroscience Institute. He received his undergraduate and M.D. degrees from the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis), clinical training in neurology at Cornell University Medical Center in New York, and a Ph.D. in neuroscience at the University of California – San Diego. Dr. Tuszynski's research focuses on central nervous system plasticity in animal models of learning, Alzheimer’s disease, spinal cord injury, and peripheral nerve injury. He investigates nervous system growth factors, stem cells, tools of gene delivery, and bioengineering approaches in many of these studies. In 2001 Dr. Tuszynski began the first human clinical trial of gene therapy to treat an adult human neurodegenerative disease, testing the effects of nerve growth factor gene delivery in patients with early Alzheimer's disease. He subsequently initiated firstin-human clinical translational programs of neurturin gene therapy in Parkinson’s disease (as the founder of the company Ceregene, Inc), brain-derived neurotrophic factor therapy in Alzheimer’s disease, and neural stem cell therapy in spinal cord injury.
Sarah Banks, Ph.D. is a clinical neuropsychologist. She is a passionate clinician focused on aging and neurodegenerative disease. In addition, she is dedicated to the science of Alzheimer’s and specifically how the changes in the brain, detectable with neuroimaging techniques such as PET and MRI, relate to the tests of memory and other thinking abilities used in the clinic. Originally from London, she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Edinburgh, doctorate at Northwestern University in Chicago, an internship at the University of Chicago, and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Montreal Neurological Institute, part of McGill University. Before arriving in San Diego, Dr. Banks led the neuropsychology program at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas.
Tamar H. Gollan, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UCSD. Dr. Gollan's research projects investigate the joint consequences of aging, bilingualism, and Alzheimer's disease for language processing and cognitive functioning. This research is enabled by the Spanish-English bilingual volunteers who participate in the Hispanic Cohort at the ADRC. Dr. Gollan is a life-long Hebrew-English bilingual and is also fluent in Spanish. Dr. Gollan received her Ph.D. in clinical and cognitive neuropsychology from the University of Arizona and is a faculty member in two Joint Doctoral Programs between SDSU and UCSD (in Clinical Neuropsychology and Speech, Language, & Hearing Sciences). Dr. Gollan also mentors undergraduate research as part of the Faculty Mentor and McNair Programs (for students at UCSD who are underrepresented in graduate education). Dr. Gollan’s research has been funded continuously since 2002 by individual investigator awards from the National Institute of Health and the National Science Foundation.
Hector M. González is an Associate Professor in the Department of Neurosciences and Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center in the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. He is a licensed clinical neuropsychologist with clinical research training and experiences in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Dr. González was a clinical research fellow and later co-investigator of the Sacramento Area Latino Study on Aging (SALSA), which is a landmark dementia study among Mexican-origin Latinos. He served as Principal Investigator of the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (SOL), Neurocognitive Reading Center, which is the largest study of Latino neurocognitive health and aging to-date. Dr. González is PI of the Study of Latinos-Investigation of neurocognitive aging (SOL-INCA), which is an SOL ancillary study examining sociocultural, cardiometabolic, and genomic risks of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and ADRD among diverse Latinos.
Diane M. Jacobs, Ph.D. is a licensed neuropsychologist and clinical researcher in the Department of Neurosciences at UCSD. Dr. Jacobs received her Ph.D. from the UCSD/SDSU Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, and she completed a post-doctoral fellowship in clinical neuropsychology at Johns Hopkins. Her research focuses on the assessment of cognition in aging and dementia, with an emphasis on early detection and differential diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.
Guerry M. Peavy, Ph.D. is a licensed neuropsychologist and faculty member of the UCSD Department of Neurosciences. She obtained her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Connecticut and has worked at the ADRC since 1990. Her research has focused on cognitive functioning in patients with Alzheimer's disease. She initially studied patients in severe stages of dementia and is currently examining the effects of chronic psychological stress on the development of Alzheimer's disease. Of particular interest are those subjects who are already experiencing some memory loss but are otherwise functioning normally (MCI). Dr. Peavy is the director of the Outreach, Recruitment, and Education Core at the SMADRC.
David Salmon, Ph.D. is the ADRC’s senior neuropsychologist. His research focuses on the memory and cognitive deficits caused by neurodegenerative diseases such as AD, Parkinson’s disease (PD), and DLB. Professor in Residence in the Department of Neurosciences and Co-Director of the Clinical Core of the ADRC. Dr. Salmon received his Ph.D. in Biopsychology from Rutgers University in 1984 and completed post-doctoral training in Animal and Human Neuropsychology at UCSD in 1986. He has been affiliated with the ADRC since 1985. His research focuses on the neural basis of memory and cognition examined through the psychological and neurological analysis of the cognitive deficits associated with diverse dementing disorders. He was awarded the prestigious Helen A. Jarrett Chair Award in Alzheimer's Research in 2000.
Steven D. Edland, BS, MS, Ph.D., Core Leader of Data Management and Statistics Core. Dr. Edland received his BS in Environmental Studies from Western Washington University in 1983, his MS in Statistics and Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of Washington (UW) in 1986 in 1986 and 2000, respectively. He is an Associate Professor in Biostatistics with Appointments in the departments of Family and Preventive Medicine and Neurosciences. Prior to joining the ADRC in 2004, Dr. Edland was Director of Data Management and Statistics Core of the Mayo Clinic ADRC.
Neuropathologists and Lab Scientists
Robert Hevner, MD is a neuropathologist-neuroscientist with particular interests in brain development, neurogenesis, and transcription factors. He is certified in Anatomic Pathology and Neuropathology by the American Board of Pathology since 1997. He conducted postdoctoral research in developmental neuroscience with John Rubenstein at UCSF from 1996-2000. He moved to the University of Washington (Seattle) as an Assistant Professor of Pathology in 2000, where he specialized in pediatric neuropathology at Seattle Children's Hospital and Research Institute, and remained until 2018, rising to Professor. In 2018, Dr. Hevner moved to the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), where he is Professor and Director of Neuropathology in the Department of Pathology. His lab is located at the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine. He has served as Vice President of the American Association of Neuropathologists. His research has been continuously funded by NIH since 1997, and he presently serves as an appointed member of NIH Study Section MNG.