Expert Panel

Katerina Akassoglou

Senior Investigator, Gladstone Institutes; Professor of Neurology, University of California San Francisco (both CA, USA)

Dr Akassoglou has pioneered studies in the investigation of vascular and immune mechanisms in neurologic diseases, and in particular the role of the blood clotting factors in CNS autoimmunity, trauma and neurodegeneration. Her aim is to understand the mechanisms that control the communication between the brain, immune and vascular systems with the ultimate goal to design novel therapies for neurologic diseases – and in particular, multiple sclerosis and neurodegenerative diseases.

Dr Akassoglou identified blood clotting factors as major mediators of neurologic disease. She made the unanticipated discovery that the blood clotting factor fibrinogen is a major activator of innate immune responses in the CNS. She developed novel imaging tools to study the neurovascular interface and therapeutic strategies to protect from neuroimmune diseases by blocking the damaging effects of blood factors in the brain without affecting their beneficial effects in blood clotting. Dr Akassoglou takes a multifaceted approach to her research, incorporating animal modeling, in vivo two-photon microscopy, drug discovery, preclinical translational research, and biomarker studies. Her laboratory is a fertile training ground for junior faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate and medical students. Dr Akassoglou has published over 70 papers in peer-reviewed journals and she is active in several national and international organizations, editorial boards and funding agencies.

Dr. Akassoglou was awarded by the White House the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), “the highest honor bestowed by the US government on outstanding early-career scientists and engineers”, the John J. Abel Award from the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) for “original and outstanding research contributions in pharmacology”, and The Marilyn Hilton Award for Innovation in MS Research by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. She has also received the Dana Foundation Award in Brain and Immunoimaging and a EUREKA (Exceptional Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration) award and the R35 Research Program Award from NINDS.

Dr Akassoglou earned a BSc degree in biology and a PhD in neurobiology at the University of Athens, Greece. She was trained in neuropathology at the University of Vienna (Austria) before performing her postdoctoral work at the Rockefeller University, and New York University (both NY, USA). She started her laboratory as an Assistant Professor at the Department of Pharmacology at the University of California, San Diego (CA, USA) where she was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure. She is now a Senior Investigator at the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease, and a Professor in the Department of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco (CA, USA). She is also the founder and Director of the Gladstone Center for In Vivo Imaging Research (CA, USA), Associate Adjunct Professor of Pharmacology at the University of California, San Diego, and Secretary/Treasurer of the Molecular Pharmacology Division of ASPET.


Richard AvivRichard Aviv

Professor of Medical Imaging, Division of Neuroradiology, University of Toronto; Affiliate scientist, Sunnybrook Research Institute; Associate Vice Chair of Research, Department of Medical Imaging, University of Toronto; Co-director Neurodoppler laboratory, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center (all ON, Canada)

Professor Aviv has authored over 130 peer-reviewed publications and contributed to several neuroradiology textbook chapters. He was awarded the 2010 Young Investigator award from the Canadian Association of Radiologists. His research interests are broad and include intracerebral hemorrhage, advanced stroke imaging and Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Funding sources include the Canadian Institute of Health Research, HSF, Multiple Sclerosis Society and PSI. Professor Aviv coined the term CTA Spot sign and has published widely on the definition, limitations and natural history of the sign. Professor Aviv is involved with several prospective international studies utilizing the CTA spot sign to select patients for medical therapy. He has developed a novel animal model of intracerebral hemorrhage and extravasation, which facilitates the testing of existing and novel therapeutic interventions. Professor Aviv is also particularly interested in the link between Gray matter perfusion abnormality and cognition in MS. MRI perfusion facilitates a greater understanding of the underlying pathophysiology of MS and provides a potential biomarker of disease severity.


Bergese Sergio MDSergio D. Bergese

Professor of Anesthesiology and Neurological Surgery, Chief of Neuroanesthesiology, Director of Clinical and Neurological Research and Director of Neuroanesthesia and Clinical and Perioperative Research Fellowships, Department of Anesthesiology & Neurological Surgery, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus (OH, USA)

Professor Bergese graduated from The National University of Cordoba School of Medicine (Argentina) and continued his postgraduate training at The Italian Hospital (London, UK) and later at The Ohio State University. A board certified anesthesiologist specializing in Neuroanesthesia, he received training in general surgery and completed a fellowship in cellular immunology (Transplantation). In addition, he completed training and received a certificate in business administration with a focus on business administration in anesthesiology. Upon completion of anesthesia training, he held a position of assistant professor in the Departments of Anesthesiology and Neurological Surgery at The Ohio State University until his promotions to associate clinical professor, and finally full professor.

As the leader in neurosurgical anesthesiology, Professor Bergese actively pursued the plan to organize a clinical fellowship program in Neuro Anesthesiology within the department at The Ohio State University. Since the program was founded in 2007, many outstanding anesthesiologists received their specialized training in neurosurgical anesthesiology.

Professor. Bergese has participated in over 500 lectures nationally and internationally as an honored guest, spokesman, moderator, chairman, and visiting scholar. He contributed significantly to the development of national guidelines such us the management of postoperative nausea and vomiting, anesthetic management of Ischemic stroke, and cognitive disorders.

He began his research career early on in the Division of Transplantation in the Department of Surgery at The Ohio State University. Since the beginning of his career path over 25 years ago, he not only showed interest for the clinical aspects of the medical field but also for the research field. Dr. Bergese firmly believes research is the key to improving medicine and improving the lives of patients.

Dr. Bergese founded one of the largest clinical anesthesia research teams nationwide in the Department of Anesthesiology consisting of research fellows, clinical residents, post-doctoral researchers, medical students, clinical coordinators, research scientists, and research assistants. He has led the research team to new achievements including multiple collaborations, research grants, presentations, and peer-reviewed publications which led to a substantial increase in extramural research funding. He has had over 175 grants, and since its creation, the anesthesia research team has successfully performed multiple studies in the Clinical and Translational field including both internal and external collaborations.

Under his leadership, the anesthesia research team has successfully conducted over 150 clinical trials including sponsored and investigator initiated studies. Among the areas of interest are postoperative pain, postoperative nausea and vomiting, postoperative delirium, post anesthetic recovery and patient monitoring devices. These clinical studies have allowed Dr. Bergese and his team to publish multiple abstracts and peer-reviewed manuscripts in national and international high-impact journals including JAMA, Anesthesia & Analgesia, Neurosurgery, Neurosurgical Clinics of North America, and many others.

Professor Bergese has written over 160 papers. Many of the published works have been presented at both national and international anesthesiology and neurological surgery meetings.

His grant proposals have received extramural funding in the amount of over 3million dollars for research purposes. He holds several committee appointments at local and national levels such as The American Society of Anesthesiology, The Society for Ambulatory Anesthesia, and is also a member of the Association of University Anesthesiologists (AUA). He serves in the Editorial Board of several reference Journals and is also the Editor in Chief for the Spanish Journal of Anesthesiology.


Monica Busse

PhD MSc(Med) BSc (Hons) BSc Physiotherapy, Professor in Healthcare Sciences, School of Healthcare Sciences, Cardiff University (UK)

Professor Monica Busse is a physiotherapist with an established interest in exercise and physical activity for individuals with chronic health conditions, with a particular focus on the development of targeted physical interventions in neurodegenerative diseases. Her specific expertise is in the assessment and management of mobility problems and falls, defining contents of physiotherapy interventions, methodologies for appropriate assessment of outcomes in complex health conditions and promotion of physical activity for health (along with behavior change applications and development of interventions).

Over the past 8 years, she has been and continues to be principal investigator in a series of multicentre observational and interventional studies related to physiotherapy, physical activity and mobility in Huntington’s Disease. Within a wider neurology remit, she has conducted studies of mobility and falls in muscular dystrophy, mobility assessments in Multiple Sclerosis and focussed on documentation of rehabilitation interventions and investigating the role of neural feedback in people with Parkinson’s disease, where her expertise in outcome measures and physical training is informing both intervention delivery and assessment of mobility.


Chambers_2013_headshotChristine Chambers

Clinical Psychologist and Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Psychology & Neuroscience, Dalhousie University (NS, Canada)

Dr. Christine Chambers is a clinical psychologist and Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Psychology & Neuroscience (with cross-appointments in Anesthesia, Pain Management & Perioperative Medicine and Psychiatry), and former Canada Research Chair in Pain and Child Health (Tier 2, 2004-2014) at Dalhousie University. Her research lab is based in the Centre for Pediatric Pain Research at the IWK Health Centre.

Dr. Chambers’ research examines developmental, psychological, and social influences on children’s pain, with a focus on family factors in pediatric pain and using social media to mobilize evidence-based information about children’s pain to parents. Her research is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). She is a Principal Investigator and key mentor in the Pain in Child Health (PICH) training program and is the site lead for the IWK’s Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Program (CCHCSP).

She is the recipient of career awards from numerous organizations, including the International Association for the Study of Pain’s (IASP) Ulf Lindblom Young Investigator Award, given to an individual under the age of 40 who has made significant contributions to clinical pain research. She has given a TEDx talk on children’s pain and developed a YouTube video for parents about how to manage needle pain. Dr. Chambers was recently identified as one of the top 10 most productive women clinical psychology professors in Canada. She is also the proud mother of four young children.


 ThanhThanh Dang-Vu

Assistant Professor, Concordia University Research Chair in Sleep, Neuroimaging and Cognitive Health; attending neurologist and researcher at the Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal; Clinical Professor of Neurosciences at the University of Montreal and Adjunct Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University (all QC, Canada).

Dr. Dang-Vu earned his MD in 2004 at the Université de Liège (Belgium) and then completed his residency in Neurology and a PhD in Biomedical Science at the same university. He did a postdoctoral fellowship in the department of Neurology at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MA, USA) and Harvard Medical School in Boston (MA, USA). He completed a second postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Advanced Research in Sleep Medicine at the Université de Montreal (Canada) and Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal (Canada). He has won several research awards, notably from the Sleep Research Society, the European Sleep Research Society, the Belgian Association for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine, and the Belgian Neurological Society.

He joined Concordia University (Montreal, Canada) in 2012, where he was appointed Assistant Professor in Clinical Imaging.

Thanh Dang-Vu is currently an Assistant Professor at Concordia University (Montreal, Canada). He holds the Concordia University Research Chair in Sleep, Neuroimaging and Cognitive Health, as well as a CIHR New Investigator Award. Dr Dang-Vu is also an attending neurologist and a researcher at the Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal (IUGM, Canada), a clinical professor in the department of Neurosciences at the University of Montreal, and an adjunct professor of neurology and neurosurgery at McGill University.

The research interests of Dr Dang-Vu are focused on the interface between neuroimaging, sleep, and neurology, in order to investigate the neural correlates of spontaneous brain activity, the role of sleep in brain plasticity, the pathophysiology of sleep disorders, and the clinical biomarkers of neurological disease progression.


 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATzvi Dwolatzky

Director of Geriatrics, Rambam Health Care Campus (Haifa, Israel) and Associate Professor of Geriatrics, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (Beersheba, Israel)

Dr. Dwolatzky MD, MBBCh is the Director of Geriatrics at the Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa, Israel and is Associate Professor of Geriatrics at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheva, Israel. He graduated in medicine at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg (South Africa) and has since devoted his professional career to the field of Geriatrics and to the care of the elderly. He is the chairman of the Israel Geriatrics Society, heads the Academic Geriatric Committee of the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, is a member of the steering committee of the Israel National Dementia Strategy, and is a member of the National Geriatric Council of Israel.

His research and clinical interests focus predominantly on the use of technology for the diagnosis and treatment of age-associated cognitive impairment and dementia, healthy aging and centenarians, frailty, integrated health care for the elderly, and global health issues. He has published widely, edited and writtenbook chapters , and has presented his research at international scientific conferences. He is active in promoting medical education and has received multiple awards for teaching.


 S FoxSusan Fox

Associate Professor of Neurology, University of Toronto and Associate Director of the Movement Disorders Clinic, Toronto Western Hospital (both ON, Canada)

Dr. Susan H Fox B.Sc, MB ChB, MRCP , PhD, is Associate Professor of Neurology at the University of Toronto, and Associate Director of the Movement Disorders Clinic at Toronto Western Hospital. She is a member of the International Executive Committee of the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society; Co-editor of the Movement Disorder Society (MDS) website and chair of the evidence based medicine committee for the MDS.

Her research interests include pre-clinical studies investigating disease mechanisms of Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders; as well as Phase II and Phase III clinical trials of new treatments for Parkinson’s disease and dystonia. She has received research funding from the NIH, the CIHR, Parkinson Society Canada and Michael J Fox Foundation for research into Parkinson’s disease. She has published over 120 peer-reviewed papers, reviews and book chapters in the field; and is a regular speaker at national and international conferences.


Galvin professional photoJames E. Galvin

Professor of Clinical Biomedical Sciences and Nursing and Associate Dean for Clinical Research, Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, Florida Atlantic University (FL, USA)

Dr. Galvin, MD, M.P.H. is Professor of Clinical Biomedical Sciences and Nursing, and Associate Dean for Clinical Research at the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, Florida Atlantic University (FL, USA). He serves as Director of the Leon and Toby Cooperman Center for Alzheimer Disease and Memory Disorders at the Marcus Neuroscience Institute, Boca Raton Regional Hospital (FL, USA). He leads the University-wide effort to create a clinical-translational research infrastructure.

Dr. Galvin received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry from New York University (NY, USA) in 1986, his Masters of Science in Nutrition from Rutgers University (NJ, USA) in 1988, his MD from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (NJ, USA) in 1992, and his Masters of Public Health from St. Louis University (MO, USA) in 2004.

He has authored over 150 scientific publications (h-index=37, i10-index=70) and 22 book chapters covering basic, clinical and translational science in the area of neurodegenerative disorders, dementia and cognitive aging, is the editor of three textbooks on dementia, and leads numerous clinical trials investigating new therapeutics for Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. Dr. Galvin’s research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control, Michael J Fox Foundation, American Federation for Aging Research, Alzheimer’s Association, New York State Department of Health, Alzheimer Drug Discovery Foundation, and the Morris and Alma Schapiro Fund.


AJ HannanAnthony Hannan

Head of the Neural Plasticity Laboratory, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, University of Melbourne (VIC, Australia)

Professor Anthony Hannan received his undergraduate training and PhD in neuroscience from the University of Sydney (Australia). He was then awarded a Nuffield Medical Fellowship at the University of Oxford (UK), where he subsequently held other research positions before returning to Australia on an National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) RD Wright Career Development Fellowship to establish a laboratory at the Florey Institute.

He is head of the Neural Plasticity Laboratory, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, University of Melbourne. He is also currently an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow, and has received awards for his research including the British Council Eureka Prize, the International Society for Neurochemistry Young Lecturer Award and the Federation of European Biochemical Societies Anniversary Prize.

Professor Hannan’s research explores how genes and the environment combine via experience-dependent plasticity in the healthy and diseased brain. His research includes models of specific neurological and psychiatric disorders which involve cognitive and affective dysfunction, investigated at behavioral, cellular and molecular levels so as to identify pathogenic mechanisms and novel therapeutic targets. This includes research on a mouse model of Huntington’s disease, where he and his colleagues first discovered the beneficial effects of environmental enrichment and exercise, as well as depression-like and dementia-like symptoms and associated abnormalities of neural plasticity.

This research team at the Florey is also investigating how genetic and environmental factors combine to cause specific disorders of cognition, including schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders (www.florey.edu.au/research/neural-plasticity).


L. NazarkoLinda Nazarko

Consultant Nurse at London North West Healthcare NHS Trust (UK)

Linda Nazarko MSc, PgDip, Pg Cert, BSc (Hons), RN, NIP, OBE, FRCN is consultant nurse at London North West Healthcare NHS Trust (UK). She works as a clinician, educator and adviser with colleagues in the inpatient units and within intermediate care and community teams. Linda has clinical responsibility for two nurse led inpatient wards in a community hospital. She leads a team of nurses and therapists and admits patients directly from home and from A&E into the step-up unit and from acute hospitals into the step-down unit. Linda is also clinical lead for the IV service and for dementia. She has for the last year led a Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUIN) on improving care for people with dementia within Ealing Community Services.

Linda lectures and assesses at universities and speaks at conferences in the UK and Europe.

Linda has specialized in care of older people for 30 years and has qualifications in gerontology, physical assessment, diagnostic reasoning, prescribing, continence, stoma care, research and management.

She is the author of several books, reviews and contributes to major UK nursing journals.


 Perry PortraitGeorge Perry

Dean of the College of Sciences and Professor of Biology, The University of Texas at San Antonio (TX, USA)

Dr. Perry received his bachelor’s of arts degree in zoology with high honors from University of California, Santa Barbara (CA, USA). After graduation, he headed to Scripps Institution of Oceanography (CA, USA) and obtained his Ph.D. in marine biology under David Epel in 1979. He then received a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Cell Biology in the laboratories of Drs. Bill Brinkley and Joseph Bryan at Baylor College of Medicine (TX, USA) where he laid the foundation for his observations of abnormalities in cell structures.

In 1982, Perry joined the faculty of Case Western Reserve University (OH, USA), where he currently holds an adjunct appointment. He is distinguished as one of the top Alzheimer’s disease researchers with over 900 publications, one of the top 100 most-cited scientists in neuroscience and behavior and one of the top 25 scientists in free radical research.

Perry has been cited over 59,000 times (H=122) and is recognized as an ISI highly cited researcher. Perry is editor for numerous journals and is editor-in-chief for the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences and past-president of the American Association of Neuropathologists.He received the Distinguished Professional Mentor Award from the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native American Scientists. Most recently he has been named a Foreign Correspondent Member of the Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences.

Perry’s research is primarily focused on how Alzheimer disease develops and the physiological consequences of the disease at a cellular level. He is currently working to determine the sequence of events leading to damage caused by and the source of increased oxygen radicals.

Throughout his career, Perry has collaborated with Mexican universities and researchers. He was instrumental in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between UTSA and Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Universidad de Nuevo León, and Universidad de Vericruzana. He has served as an external reviewer for Mexican universities and as a mentor for undergraduate and graduate students from Mexico, publishing papers with several of these students. Since 1984 he has been invited to speak at numerous scientific meetings, conferences, and workshops held in Mexico.


 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGabriel Vargas

Executive Medical Director and Head of the General Medicine, Bone & Neuroscience Therapeutic Area in Early Development, Amgen (CA, USA)

Gabriel Vargas, MD, PhD is a board certified psychiatrist and basic scientist. Gabriel obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley (CA, USA) where he majored in anthropology & genetics. He received his MD and PhD degrees from the University of California at Irvine (CA, USA) and went on to complete a basic science research track residency in Psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF, CA, USA).

After both a clinical and research fellowship he was appointed an assistant professor in the Psychiatry Department at UCSF where he spent 3 years leading a research group studying G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) signaling and trafficking. He also served as the Medical Director of the UCSF prodromal schizophrenia research program. He has published in the areas of GPCR signaling and membrane trafficking with a particular expertise in approaches using basic science to understand the molecular pathophysiology of genetic diseases. After leaving academia in 2006 he spent five years at Roche the last three in Basel (Switzerland) as Head of the CNS Biomarker Group where he worked on biomarkers and diagnostics for Alzheimer’s disease, autism and schizophrenia.

He joined Amgen in 2011 and leads a group of physician-scientists doing early development work on migraine, Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. He is currently Executive Medical Director and Head of the General Medicine, Bone & Neuroscience Therapeutic Area in Early Development at Amgen.