Sierra Pacific (VISN 21) MIRECC Directors and Cores - MIRECC / CoE
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Sierra Pacific (VISN 21) MIRECC Directors and Cores

Sierra Pacific Mirecc

Directors & Cores

 

 

 
Director Jerome Yesavage, M.D.
Associate Director Jennifer Kaci Fairchild, Ph.D., ABPP
Administrator Edward Wakabayashi
   
National Advanced Fellowship  
Director Sherry Beaudreau, Ph.D., ABPP
Co-Directors Viktoriya Samarina, Ph.D., Joachim Hallmayer, M.D., Ruth O'Hara, Ph.D.
   
Clinical Unit  
Dementia Jauhtai Joseph Cheng, M.D.
PTSD Thomas Neylan, M.D.
   
Research Core  
Neuroimaging Michael Weiner, M.D.
Epidemiology/ Risk Factors Kristine Yaffe M.D.
Precision Medicine Leanne Williams, Ph.D.
Neurochemistry Joachim Hallmeyer Ph.D.
Health Services Craig Rosen, Ph.D.
Chronobiology Jamie Zeitzer, Ph.D.
Sleep Andrea Goldstein-Piekarski, Ph.D.
Biostatistics & Data Management Laura Lazzeroni, Ph.D.
   
Education Unit  
Dementia Allyson C. Rosen, Ph.D., ABPP-CN
PTSD Leanne Williams, Ph.D.

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Research Core Descriptions

Neuroimaging Core / Brain Health Registry Core

The goal of the Neuroimaging Core led by Michael Weiner is to use advanced brain imaging technology to study neurodegenerative diseases with the aim of improving diagnosis, progression, and treatment. The MIRECC served to launch what developed in to the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), a multisite study of Alzheimer’s Disease and controls and ADNI DOD a study of Veterans with postraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury to study these risk factors for dementia. Additionally the Brain Health Registry Core’s goal is to assist the recruitment of and research reach of veterans who wish to participant in or learn more about brain-related research studies, as well as, assist VA researchers with study recruitment.

Key Personnel: Michael Weiner, M.D., Scott Mackin, Ph.D., Diana Truran-Sacrey, Derek Flenniken.

For more information refer to

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Epidemiology/Risk Factors Core

The focus of epidemiology core led by Kristine Yaffe is the study of cognitive function and dementia in aging populations throughout the United States. The lab aims to improve the outlook of cognitive aging by conducting research focused on identifying risk factors for cognitive impairment, understanding the mechanisms that contribute to cognitive decline, and determining effective strategies to prevent and treat cognitive disorders in older adults. Studies from the lab have led to numerous publications that have increased our understanding of cognitive aging and decline. Results have shown an association between several health and lifestyle related factors and cognitive function, including associations with cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors, kidney function, physical activity, sleep disturbances, depression, and neuropsychological disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Some of the biomarkers that have been studied include inflammatory markers, plasma beta amyloid, markers of cardiovascular health, measures of oxidative stress, structural brain MRI measures, and genetic markers of risk.

Key Personnel: Kristine Yaffe, M.D.

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Precision Medicine Core

The Precision Medicine Core of the VISN21 MIRECC advances the Precision Medicine for Veterans Initiative of the Department of Veterans Affairs to identify and validate brain and mental health biomarkers (as outlined in the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Healt Care Improvement Act of 2019). The Precision Medicine initiative specifically considers depression and post-traumatic-stress disorder among other mental health conditions. The Precision Medicine Core serves to integrate, develop and disseminate brain and mental health biomarkers that include clinical brain imaging, behavioral and lab-based biomarkers. These biomarkers show promise for improving the precision with which we can identify subtypes of these disorders and the interventions that will be of most benefit. The Precision Medicine Core encompasses multiple types of current and novel interventions. It works closely with the VA Palo Alto Precision Neuromodulation Clinic and the National Clinical TMS program coordinated by the MIRECC at VA Palo Alto. Precision medicine approaches for mental health are disseminated via webinars and other activities for clinical and educational translation.

Key Personnel: Leanne Williams, Ph.D.

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Neurochemistry Core

The goal of the Neurochemistry Core, led by Drs. Joachim Hallmayer and Ruth O'Hara, is to provide the infrastructure to acquire, assay and analyze the biological and genetic markers being implemented as part of our ongoing MIRECC Investigations. Psychiatric research has underscored the importance of biological and genetic factors in the development of psychopathology. Biological and genetic markers can provide key insights into the etiological basis of psychiatric disorders. They may be differentially expressed based on their past or current environmental exposures. In an era of personalized medicine, biological and genetic markers also have the potential to be critical predictors of which patients may be more vulnerable to specific psychiatric disorders, such as PTSD and Dementia and which patients respond better or worse to specific treatments. This information is essential for providing personalized care to our Veterans with these psychiatric disorders. However, biological and genetic studies require specialized sample acquisition, assay development, data management, quality control procedures, nucleic acid extraction, genotyping, DNA and RNA sequencing with a variety of rapidly-evolving technological platforms, and data quality checks and statistical analysis. The MIRECC Neurochemistry Core provides these services to all ongoing MIRECC Investigations, thus facilitating the successful development of studies and grants as well as supporting the development and training of students and fellows.

Key Personnel: Joachim Hallmayer, M.D., Ruth O’Hara, Ph.D., Tamara Beale, Phoebe Liao

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Health Services Core

The health services research core led by Craig Rosen aims to improve processes and outcomes of mental health care for people suffering from post-traumatic stress and other mental disorders. The primary focus is improving the processes and outcomes of VA services for Veterans with PTSD and other psychiatric disorders. A second emphasis is using telemedicine technologies to expand access to effective mental health care.

Key Personnel: Craig Rosen, Ph.D., Mark Greenbaum, Ph.D.

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Chronobiology Core

Properly synchronized circadian rhythms are crucial for healthy cognition, immune function, and metabolism, among other aspects of physical and mental health. The Chronobiology Research Core led by Jamie Zeitzer focuses on the impact of circadian rhythms on the physical and mental health of older adults. Circadian rhythm disruptions in a variety of pathologies (e.g., Alzheimers, Parkinsons, traumatic brain injury, cancer, pain) are explored. Novel pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic interventions for the support and enhancement of circadian rhythms are explored in basic laboratory studies, clinical trials, field studies, and computer modeling. The Chronobiology Research Core is dedicated in its support of improving the health of the aging Veteran.

Key Personnel: Jamie Zeitzer, Ph.D.

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Sleep Core

The Sleep Chronobiology Core led by Andrea Goldstein-Piekarski focuses on cognitive impairments and complications produced by sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea, along with the overall impact on PTSD. The efficacy of various treatment plans, including behavioral and pharmaceutical, are evaluated for implementation.

Key Personnel: Andrea Goldstein-Piekarski, Ph.D.

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Biostatistics & Data Management Core

The Biostatistics & Data Management Core provides a comprehensive analytical and computational infrastructure to support the clinical, educational and research missions of the VISN 21 MIRECC. In research program development and implementation, the Core provides study design, operational, and analytical expertise in a wide range of topics including randomized controlled trials (randomization, non-inferiority trials, moderator/mediator analyses, mechanistic trials) and cross-sectional and long-term longitudinal observational studies. The Core possesses a high level of expertise for data in the neurocognitive and genomic domains. The Core is also responsible for maintaining best practices for data management throughout the MIRECC. 

Key Personnel: Laura Lazzeroni, Ph.D., Art Noda, Beatriz Hernandez

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