Rachel Buckley Shares Her Journey Since Receiving One of the 2018 New Vision Investigator Awards

I will be starting my own lab as Assistant Professor at the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Neurology in Spring 2021. In 2018, I was a recipient of the New Vision Research award investigating high frequency cognitive testing using smartphone digital technology. Through this work, I found that the reliability of unsupervised digital technology to monitor cognitive performance is critical, alongside ensuring adherence and ‘buy in’ from participants. My new lab will be expanding on this work with my colleagues at the Australian Healthy Brain Project, Drs. Yen Ying Lim (Monash University), Matt Pase (Monash University) and Nawaf Yassi (Royal Melbourne Hospital/WEHI). Specifically, the focus will be to
continue rolling out novel and cutting-edge digital technology (smartphone apps and wearables) for monitoring the earliest signs of cognitive change in our ~7,000 middle-aged
Australians with family history and/or genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease. We hope to pair this with the latest plasma markers in the near future.

My other main research track is in the examination of sex differences in risk for Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers in clinically unimpaired older adults. With funding from my NIH-NIA
K99/R00 Pathway to Independence award, we will focus on determining the earliest emergence of sex differences in the AD pathophysiological trajectory, as well as potential hormonal contributors (menopause, sex hormones). A major research-passion of mine is harmonizing data across multiple cohorts to assess ‘statistical-power hungry’ research questions, many of these focused on sex differences. Through my time at CCAD, I have developed strong friendships with Drs. Shannon Risacher and Gregg Day, who I hope to involve in collaborations with my lab in the future. And I am incredibly indebted to Dr. Alison Goate, who has provided me with critical mentorship while I navigate the AD field as a junior investigator.