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Welcome to the Dickerson Lab: People

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Brad Dickerson, M.D. (Principal Investigator): bradd@nmr.mgh.harvard.edu



BCD
During undergraduate studies in biomedical engineering in the 1980s, I developed a passion for brain function and disorders, working on analysis of evoked potential brain activity signals. I then worked as a medical writer for the Alzheimer's Association in Chicago, where I learned about the devastating effects of Alzheimer's disease and related disorders on patients and families, as well as society. During medical school at University of Illinois, I began doing wet lab research on brain plasticity in rats with Drs. Theresa Jones and Bill Greenough, learning how the brain adapts in many ways to injury or as a result of various types of environmental factors including skill learning. After that, I did research at Rush Medical Center in Chicago with Drs. Frank Morrell and Leyla deToledo-Morrell on the use of MRI to measure brain anatomy in living individuals and identify abnormalities in Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, and changes in brain anatomy associated with normal aging. Working in their lab in the mid 1990s, Irina Goncharova and I developed a new protocol for measuring the volume of the entorhinal cortex which we used to identify atrophy in mild cognitive impairment that predicted a diagnosis of AD. We also investigated the relationship of entorhinal and hippocampal volume to memory performance, demonstrating that the amount of shrinkage of these critical structures is related to the degree of memory impairment in a number of specific ways.

During neurology residency and Mass General Hospital and Brigham & Women's Hospital, I began working with Marilyn Albert, Reisa Sperling, Deborah Blacker, Brad Hyman, Bruce Fischl, and others to investigate brain function in aging, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer's disease. After neurology training and behavioral neurology fellowship under Kirk Daffner's mentorship, I continued research on brain function and structure with a K23 Career Development Award from the National Institute on Aging, in collaboration with investigators in the MGH Departments of Neurology, Psychiatry, Radiology, Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, as well as Harvard University Dept of Psychology.

This foundation enabled me to develop my own laboratory at MGH in 2003, which is closely connected with the Martinos Imaging Center and the Massachusetts Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, and is generously supported via funding was awarded by the NIA (an R01 and an R21) and by the Alzheimer's Association. Much of this work is focused on understanding aspects of normal brain anatomy and function and how these relate to memory and other abilities. In addition, some of these efforts are aimed at developing markers that can be used to assist in making a diagnosis of AD and related disorders or in monitoring progression of these diseases over time. This and related work is ongoing as described on other pages.

Since 2005, I have had a growing interest in frontotemporal dementia, primary progressive aphasia, posterior cortical atrophy, and other less common neurodegenerative diseases, which led me to found the MGH Primary Progressive Aphasia Program in 2007 and the MGH Frontotemporal Dementia Unit in 2008, with the generous collaborative support of the Massachusetts ADRC, the MGH Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology Unit, the MGH Speech and Language Pathology Department, and other affiliated groups.

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Click here for NIH biosketch. Click here for .doc version.
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