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Panos Theofilas, PhD

Postdoctoral Scholar

Panos Theofilas joined the Grinberg lab at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center in 2012. His research focuses on the neuropathological changes and susceptibility of subcortical brain regions in the earliest stages of Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Theofilas’ methodology includes analyses of human brain circuitries as a whole by combining unbiased stereology, immunohistochemistry/biochemical assays, and 3D computer graphics for histological brain volume reconstructions. His academic background includes a BSc degree in zoology and an MSc degree in neuroscience from the University of Edinburgh, UK. He completed his PhD degree at Bonn University in Germany on programmed cell death signaling pathways in animal models of temporal lobe epilepsy.

Alzheimer’s Disease Trial of Levetiracetam

The purpose of this study is to evaluate whether the anti-epileptic drug levetiracetam reduces subclinical (clinically silent) epileptiform activity and improves cognition in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Epileptiform activity is a term used to describe the abnormal firing of neurons in ways similar to epilepsy or seizure disorder.

Summary

  • Study director: Keith Vossel, MD, MSc
  • Sponsor: Alzheimer’s Association, Inc.; NIH National Institute on Aging; S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation
  • Recruiting?: Yes
  • Official study title: A Phase 2A Levetiracetam Trial for Alzheimer’s Disease—Associated Network Hyperexcitability

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Read through our list of commonly asked questions about using the NIH EXAMINER Test Battery.


General

Q: Are there norms for each individual subtest or just the composite scores? We are hoping to get age- or age-and-education-based norms.

Alzheimer’s Disease Trial with TPI-287

Tau is a microtubule-associated protein, and abnormal tau function has been proposed to play a role in the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). TPI-287 is an stabilizer of microtubule dynamics, and the stabilization of microtubules is hypothesized to compensate for the loss of tau function in AD. The purpose of this study is to determine the dose of TPI-287 that is safe and tolerable in people with mild to moderate AD, as well as to measure the properties and preliminary efficacy of TPI-287.

Summary

  • Study director: Adam Boxer, MD, PhD
  • Sponsor: UCSF (Funder: Alzheimer’s Association)
  • Recruiting?: Yes
  • Official study title: A Phase I, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Sequential Cohort, Dose-Ranging Study of the Safety, Tolerability, Pharmacokinetics, Pharmacodynamics, and Preliminary Efficacy of TPI-287 in Patients with Mild to Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease Trial of Solanezumab

The production and deposition of amyloid plaques in the brain is thought to contribute to the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Solanezumab is hypothesized to reduce accumulation of amyloid plaques and thus slow the progression of AD. The primary purpose of the study is to determine if solanezumab will slow cognitive and functional decline in participants with mild AD.

Summary

  • Study director: Adam Boxer, MD, PhD
  • Sponsor: Eli Lilly & Company
  • Recruiting?: Not recruiting
  • Official study title: Effect of Passive Immunization on the Progression of Mild Alzheimer’s Disease: Solanezumab (LY2062430) Versus Placebo
  • ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT01900665
  • Conditions studied: Mild Alzheimer's disease

Anesthesia

The risk of cognitive decline related to surgery and anesthesia continues to be debated in the scientific literature. Some animal studies suggest that anesthesia may worsen the development of the plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimer’s disease while others identify the surgical procedure itself to be a problem by causing inflammation and release of harmful proteins. Others attribute temporary or permanent cognitive changes to the medications used to manage pain or other complications of being hospitalized. Ultimately, although this is a very active area of research, there are no definitive studies in older humans that prove a causative effect on the brain from anesthesia or provide recommendations on specific choices of anesthesia. Despite this, we hope to be able to identify information that may help our patients with cognitive problems evaluate the risk and make informed choices about surgery and anesthesia.

The risk of cognitive decline related to surgery and anesthesia continues to be debated in the scientific literature. Some animal studies suggest that anesthesia may worsen the development of the plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimer’s disease while others identify the surgical procedure itself to be a problem by causing inflammation and release of harmful proteins. Others attribute temporary or permanent cognitive changes to the medications used to manage pain or other complications of being hospitalized.

Serggio Lanata, MD

Clinical Instructor and Behavioral Neurology Fellow

Dr. Serggio Lanata was raised in Peru, where he began his undergraduate studies in general science. He later earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Florida. He obtained his medical degree from the University of South Florida, and then completed his medicine internship and neurology residency at Brown University. He joined the UCSF Memory and Aging Center in July 2013 as a Clinical Instructor and Behavioral Neurology Fellow. He evaluates and treats patients referred to the MAC clinic.

Currently, he is mostly interested in the phenotypic overlap that exists between behavioral variant FTD and different psychiatric disorders, and how our understanding of bvFTD can inform our knowledge of the pathophysiology that underlies specific psychiatric disorders.

Salvatore Spina, MD, PhD

Clinical Instructor and Behavioral Neurology Fellow

Dr. Spina received his medical degree from the University of Catania, Italy. He completed a neurology residency at the University of Siena, Italy from which he also obtained his doctorate degree on mechanisms of neurodegeneration. He was trained in neuropathology of dementia syndromes at the Indiana Alzheimer Disease Center, Indianapolis in the laboratory of Dr. Bernardino Ghetti. Later, he completed an internship in internal medicine and a neurology residency at Indiana University. Dr. Spina’s research focuses on the clinicopathologic and genetic correlations in neurodegenerative dementia syndromes, with a special interest on frontotemporal lobar degeneration.

Richard Tsai, MD

Assistant Professor of Neurology

Dr. Richard Tsai received his undergraduate degree in molecular and cell biology at University of California, Berkeley and a joint MD/MBA degree at Drexel University. He completed a neurology residency at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, serving as chief resident in his last year. He then completed a fellowship in behavioral neurology at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center. Dr. Tsai is part of the Clinical Trials team and is active in leading and managing many neurodegenerative clinical trials. His interests are dementia therapeutics, clinical trials methodology and neurodegenerative biomarkers. In addition, Dr. Tsai is a member of the outreach team of the UCSF Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and has an interest in health disparities among elderly Chinese Americans.

Dr. Tsai is fluent in English and Mandarin Chinese. In addition to evaluating patients at the Memory and Aging Center, he sees patients at the Chinese Hospital and SFDPH Chinatown Public Health Center in Chinatown.

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