NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

‘Path for Alzheimer's Prevention’

Quiroz To Present Mahoney Lecture on Aging

Dr. Quiroz
Harvard’s Dr. Yakeel T. Quiroz will deliver the next Florence Mahoney Lecture on Aging.

Dr. Yakeel T. Quiroz, a clinical neuroscientist whose research is focused on the study of cognitive and brain changes that predispose individuals to develop dementia later in life, will deliver the next Florence Mahoney Lecture on Aging, June 8 at 3 p.m. ET. 

Quiroz’s presentation, “Charting the path for Alzheimer’s prevention with the Colombian kindred with autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease,” will take place virtually via https://videocast.nih.gov/44272. She will discuss how longitudinal studies conducted with Colombian families with autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease (AD) have informed biomarker research, disease prevention and treatment development.

A limited number of audience members will be welcome to attend in Lipsett Amphitheater, Bldg. 10. If you are interested in attending in person, email WALSoffice@od.nih.gov

An associate professor in the departments of psychiatry and neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Quiroz currently serves as director of the MGH Multicultural Assessment and Research Center and the Multicultural Alzheimer’s Prevention Program. In her research, she uses multimodal neuroimaging methods, including PET and fMRI, and integrates genetics, biofluids and neuropsychological data to examine some of the earliest changes associated with the risk or protection for AD.

Quiroz is principal investigator on the NIH-funded COLBOS (COLombia-BOSton) biomarker study that follows individuals from the world’s largest extended family with a single, Alzheimer’s-causing mutation (E280A in Presenilin1). This was the first study to show that tau pathology was evident in the brains of cognitively unimpaired individuals with autosomal dominant AD, several years before onset of symptoms. It demonstrated for the first time that brain amyloidosis was necessary for the initiation of tau pathology in these individuals. 

Under the auspices of her COLBOS study, Quiroz assessed a mutation carrier from the Colombian kindred who remained resistant to Alzheimer’s dementia for nearly 30 years after her estimated age at clinical onset. She had two copies of a rare APOE variant (i.e., APOE3 Christchurch mutation), the highest amyloid plaque deposition in the kindred, and relative sparing of downstream biomarker effects. 

In related experimental studies, Quiroz’s group demonstrated that the Christchurch mutation may protect against AD by limiting tau pathology and neurodegeneration in the face of high amyloid pathology, which has opened new avenues for Alzheimer’s research and treatment.

Her findings have helped researchers re-conceptualize Alzheimer’s as a sequence of changes that begins decades before cognitive decline, and which may be targeted by promising disease-slowing treatments and prevention strategies at a time in which they might have their most profound effect. 

A native of Colombia, South America, Quiroz earned her bachelor’s from the University of Antioquia, Medellin, Colombia in 2000; master’s in cognitive neuroscience in 2006 and her Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 2013, both from Boston University. Her postdoctoral training was in clinical neuropsychology at MGH. She joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital in 2015.

Quiroz has been recognized broadly for her research, including with the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award, an MGH Research Scholar Award and the Alzheimer’s Association’s Inge Grundke-Iqbal Award for Alzheimer’s Research.

Mahoney lectures are sponsored by NIA and named in honor of Florence Stephenson Mahoney (1899–2002), who devoted much of her life to successfully advocating for the creation of NIA and increased support for NIH.

Now Hear This

Flint gray bird with white trim on wings and pale gray breast
Northern mockingbird

Photo:  Michael Bender

To sample the incredible variety and diversity of bird vocalization, visit www.birds.cornell.edu/home/. “Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a great resource for audio of the songs,” suggests Dr. Michael Bender, program director, NIGMS Division of Genetics and Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (and NIH Record bird photographer). “Just search by species name and click on the audio button on the species account.”

Now Hear This

Flint gray bird with white trim on wings and pale gray breast
Northern mockingbird

Photo:  Michael Bender

To sample the incredible variety and diversity of bird vocalization, visit www.birds.cornell.edu/home/. “Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a great resource for audio of the songs,” suggests Dr. Michael Bender, program director, NIGMS Division of Genetics and Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (and NIH Record bird photographer). “Just search by species name and click on the audio button on the species account.”

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

Published 25 times each year, it comes out on payday Fridays.

Assistant Editor: Eric Bock
Eric.Bock@nih.gov (link sends e-mail)

Staff Writer: Amber Snyder
Amber.Snyder@nih.gov (link sends e-mail)