Yakeel T. Quiroz’s research focus is on characterizing preclinical biomarkers and early diagnosis paradigms in Alzheimer’s disease. There is a consensus in the scientific community that the key to success in treating Alzheimer’s disease is to begin therapies as early as possible before significant brain damage occurs.
Quiroz’s research interests have focused on studying the neural underpinnings of memory dysfunction in the preclinical and clinical stages of Alzheimer’s disease, and in particular, the impact on Hispanic populations. Her doctoral research sought to characterize the earliest pre-symptomatic functional and structural brain changes associated with genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s disease using a multimodal imaging approach. By applying her efforts to the world’s largest family with a single, early onset AD-causing mutation (E280A in PSENI), she provided evidence of brain imaging abnormalities in young adults at genetic risk for AD decades before the kindred’s average age at clinical onset. These findings promise to help clarify the trajectory of measurable biological changes that precede the onset of symptoms in patients with AD, helping the field to re-conceptualize AD as a sequence of changes that begin decades before cognitive decline, and which may be targeted by promising disease-slowing treatments at a time in which they might have their most profound effect.
Her research has resulted in four first-authored papers published in peer-reviewed journals that have generated considerable discussion in the field. Quiroz received the National Academy of Neuropsychology Outstanding Dissertation Award in the United States and the Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences Prize from the Alejandro Angel Escobar Foundation in Colombia. She has presented her work at multiple national and international conferences and works to educate the public through the Alzheimer’s Association and Alzforum.
Quiroz is a clinical/research fellow in neuropsychology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. She received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Boston University in 2013.