My research examines the role of both genetic and non-genetic risk factors in the development of dementia and cognitive impairment. This research is characterized by developing technical expertise and research experience in genetic epidemiology. As a graduate researcher under the supervision of Professor Simon Easteal (Australian National University, Australia) I evaluated the role of an Alzheimer’s genetic risk score and an environmental/lifestyle risk index in influencing cognitive aging, including the transition between clinical states in dementia. The goal of this research program was to inform the development of intervention strategies aimed at delaying or preventing the onset of dementia by obtaining a greater understanding of how genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors influence cognitive health before the onset of dementia. As a postdoctoral fellow under the supervision of Dr. Alison Goate (Icahn school of Medicine at Mount Sinai, NY) I am pursing several research aims that further explore the role of genetic and environmental risk variables in Alzheimer’s.
First, I am using genetic variation associated with key environmental and lifestyle risk factors to evaluate the causal role of modifiable risk factors on the overall risk of Alzheimer’s disease and its associated endophenotypes. I am also conducting a systematic investigation of associations between the genetic predisposition for lifestyle, medical, psychological and neurological traits with Alzheimer’s endophenotypes in Alzheimer’s mutation carriers. Finally, I am investigating how the interactions between genetic variants on the mitochondrial and nuclear genome moderate Alzheimer’s risk.