Skip to main content
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
The Ken & Ruth Davee Department of Neurology
Skip to main content

Cognitive Neurology & Alzheimer's Disease Research

Below are labs and faculty investigating neurological diseases that interfere with cognition and behavior from basic science to clinical, social and behavioral investigations. 

To learn about ongoing clinical trials or participate in a study, visit the clinical trials page for our Division of Behavioral Neurology.

Labs

 Borna Bonakdarpour Lab

Based at Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer Disease Center, our laboratory uses multimodal neuroimaging, especially functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), to study the underlying neural mechanisms of language impairment (aphasia) and impairment in other areas of cognition.

For more information about the Bonakdarpour Lab, please visit the Bonakdarpour Laboratory website.

 Thorsten Kahnt Lab

Our research focuses on the neural and computational principles of reward-guided behavior.

Research Description

We study brain systems involved in learning, generalization and decision-making such as the striatum and the orbitofrontal cortex.  For this, we use a combination of human psychophysics, computational models, fMRI and advanced multivariate analyses techniques borrowed from machine learning.  This research may pave the way for understanding decision-making deficits in neurological diseases and should ultimately lead to novel diagnostic markers and treatment strategies for these disorders.

Publications

For more information visit the faculty profile of Thorsten Kahnt, PhD, or visit the Kahnt Lab website.

Contact Information

Thorsten Kahnt, PhD at 312-503-2896

 M Marsel Mesulam Lab

Investigating Alzheimer's disease and related disorders.

Lab Description

As the director of the NIH-funded Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center (CNADC), Dr. Mesulam’s research focuses on cognition and aging. The CNADC’s research ranges from evaluating quality-of-life interventions for Alzheimer’s disease, to understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases, and everything in between. Many of the research studies at the CNADC are related to primary progressive aphasia (PPA), a rare dementia syndrome characterized by the progressive loss of language abilities with relative sparing of other areas of cognition. As one of the top referral centers for PPA in the world, they maintain a large cohort of patients who are thoroughly studied using a variety of techniques, including MRI, ERP, and neuropsychological testing. All research patients have the opportunity to participate in the Brain Donation Program, which allows researchers to understand the link between clinical presentation and underlying neuropathologic disease.

Publications

For more information please see the faculty profile of M Marsel Mesulam, MD or visit the The Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center (CNADC) website.

Contact Us

Contact the Mesulam Lab at 312-908-9339.

 Jeffrey Savas Lab

Research in the Savas lab is aimed at accelerating our understanding of the proteins and proteomes responsible for neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases.

Research Description

We use biochemistry with discovery-based mass spectrometry to identify the protein perturbations which drive synaptopathies and proteinopathies. Groups of perturbed proteins serve as pathway beacons which we subsequently characterizes in hopes of finding new pathogenic mechanisms and potential future therapeutic targets.

For more information view the faculty profile of Jeffrey Savas, PhD or the Savas Lab website.

Publications

Please see Dr. Savas' publications on PubMed.

Contact Information

Jeffrey N Savas, PhD
Assistant Professor in Neurology
312-503-3089

 

 Robert Vassar Lab

Understanding the role of Ab and BACE1 in normal biological processes and in disease mechanisms of relevance to AD

Research Description

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the leading cause of dementia in the elderly. The progressive degeneration of neurons in regions of the brain important for cognition causes the dementia that slowly robs AD patients of their memories, personalities and eventually their lives.

AD pathology is characterized by two microscopic brain lesions:

  • Amyloid plaques: Extracellular deposits of the beta-amyloid peptide (Ab), and the longer 42 amino acid form, Ab42, which is strongly associated with autosomal dominant forms of familial AD
  • Neurofibrillary tangles

Ab is generated from the amyloid precursor protein (APP) by endoproteolysis from two proteases called the b- and g-secretases. The b-secretase, a novel aspartic protease termed BACE1, was initially cloned and characterized by our group (Vassar, et al., 1999). BACE1 is required for the generation of all forms of Ab, including Ab42, and therefore is a prime drug target for the treatment of AD.

Our ongoing research focuses on the role of Ab and BACE1 in normal biological processes and in disease mechanisms of relevance to AD, including:

  • The functions of BACE1 and the homologue, BACE2 and the cell biology of Ab in neurons
  • The role of inflammation in AD pathophysiology
  • Novel transgenic and knockout mouse models of AD
  • Molecular changes that may occur during brain aging leading to neurodegeneration

For lab information and more, vist the Vassar Laboratory Website or see Dr. Vassar's faculty profile.

Publications

See Dr. Vassar's publications on PubMed.

Contact

Contact Dr. Vassar at 312-503-3361.

Faculty

Bonakdarpour, Borna

Bonakdarpour, Borna

Assistant Professor of Neurology (Behavioral Neurology)

Bio

Research interests: neurobiology of language breakdown and recovery in post-stroke and primary progressive aphasia using different neuroimaging methodologies. Therapeutic interventions for aphasia and... [more]

Cahan, Joshua G

Cahan, Joshua G

Instructor of Neurology (Behavioral Neurology)

Gitelman, Darren R

Gitelman, Darren R

Adjunct Associate Professor of Neurology - Ken and Ruth Davee Department and Radiology

Bio

My current research is to use sophisticated MRI imaging techniques to develop new ways of looking at the effects of Parkinson's disease on the brain. I am also the PI of several clinical trials in Alz... [more]

Grant, Ian M

Grant, Ian M

Assistant Professor of Neurology (Behavioral Neurology)

Bio

Florane and Jerome Rosenstone Fellow in Cognitive Neurology

Kahnt, Thorsten

Kahnt, Thorsten

Assistant Professor of Neurology (Behavioral Neurology) and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Bio

My lab focuses on neural and computational principles of human learning and decision making, with an emphasis on olfactory-guided behavior. Our research relates to clinical work in the Neurology Depar... [more]

Mesulam, M Marsel

Mesulam, M Marsel

Professor of Neurology (Behavioral Neurology)

Bio

neural networks, functional imaging, dementia, cerebral cortex, cholinergic pathways

Savas, Jeffrey N

Savas, Jeffrey N

Assistant Professor of Neurology (Behavioral Neurology), Medicine (Nephrology and Hypertension) and Pharmacology

Bio

My research interests are centered on elucidating the pathogenic mechanisms which drive synaptopathies and proteinopathies in the mammalian nervous system. As a first step, we use reductionist biochem... [more]

Vassar, Robert J

Vassar, Robert J

Professor of Neurology (Behavioral Neurology) and Cell and Developmental Biology

Bio

Our research focuses on molecular and cellular mechanisms of Alzheimer's disease. In particular, we investigate the beta-secretase enzyme BACE1, which initiates the production of the beta-amyloid pept... [more]

Back to top