S. Ahmad Sajjadi, MD, PhD
University of California, Irvine
Being a clinician scientist, I am in the unique position of adopting research ideas born out of the identification of real problems patients suffer from in their day to day life. At a pure scientific level, this helps developing sound theories that are compatible with clinical facts. Perhaps more importantly, being in this position provides unparalleled opportunities for pursuing clinically meaningful research aimed at helping the current and future generations of patients in dealing with the devastating outcomes of their disease. I am a cognitive neurologist with significant research training and experience in clinical and neuropsychological classification and analysis of neuro-imaging data in degenerative brain diseases. Prior to joining UCI, my main research focus was on studying different subtypes of frontotemporal dementia leading to ground breaking discoveries that have helped transform our understanding of the relation between clinical presentation and underlying pathology in primary progressive aphasia. Since joining UCI in early 2016, I joined the 90+ study, a unique NIH funded study of cognition and dementia in the oldest old. I have been involved in various aspects of this unique project including examining participants and participating in and occasionally leading the post-mortem diagnostic conferences. This made me aware of high frequency of and devastation caused by another closely related condition namely, hippocampal sclerosis of ageing (HS) which has the strongest association with dementia in this age group. I have discovered an intriguing association between HS and autoimmunity and also have found clues that certain neuropsychological markers might enable prediction of this devastating condition during life rendering it
amenable to potential disease modifying therapies. The grant from NIA will enable taking this research to the next level by performing serological screening for autoimmunity on the bio-specimen currently available and being collected from the 90+ participants. Moreover, by adding additional brain MRI scans using customised sequences capable of detecting the signal change and atrophy in the hippocampal formation we will test the hypothesis that HS can be detected by neuroimaging during life.