After choosing a career in neuroscience my primary focus evolved into utilizing multimodality neuroimaging techniques to map patterns of disease progression. During my graduate training at the University of Texas at Dallas I studied neuroimaging correlates of cognitive sequelea in former NFL athletes. Some of the work we produced were the first comprehensive examinations of concussions in this population. We identified behavioral brain relationships that associated with history of concussion, spurred two publications and an invitation to speak at an international conference. Within this same population, I also initiated a project that focused on somatic depression symptoms that correlated with decreased white matter structural integrity. This paper helped highlight the emotional disturbances that plagued this population and brought the topic to the forefront at academic conferences.
The techniques I have developed from traumatic injury have also been applied to understanding brain behavior relationships in numerous other diseases. Recently, I utilized positron emission tomography to identify the spatial topography of tau pathology in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and how it relates to white matter damage. Both demyelination and wallerian degeneration co-occur in this population and I sought to determine whether this loss in structural integrity associated with tau accumulation. I was also pivotal in an intervention project that assessed neuroimaging correlates of strategic training to bolster/preserve cognitive reserve to counteract declining performance in normal aging and AD. This work has laid the foundation for my next series of projects that examine the structure and function between autosomal dominant AD (ADAD) compared to late-onset AD (LOAD). ADAD are a younger cohort that exhibit fewer age-related comorbidities making this an ideal cohort to examine AD white matter changes, which is the premise for my grant from the Brightfocus Foundation.