Michael Rafii M.D. Ph.D

Co-Director of the Memory Disorders Clinic at UCSD Perlman Ambulatory Care Center in La Jolla, Assistant Professor of Neurosciences at the University of California, San Diego, and Associate Medical Director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study, Dr. Rafii specializes in cognitive disorders, including dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease. His current research interests include neuroimaging and clinical trials. He received his M.D. and Ph.D. from Brown University and conducted neurogenetics research at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Rafii went on to complete his neurology residency at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and fellowship in Dementia and Cognitive Disorders at the University of California, San Diego.

Dec 152010
HDL Cholesterol and Alzheimer’s Disease

According to researchers at Columbia University, people with high levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good” form) are 60 percent less likely to develop AD. The researchers followed 1,130 seniors with no history of memory loss or dementia and measured their cholesterol levels every 18 months for four years. When the researchers compared the cholesterol levels of study participants with and without Alzheimer’s, they found that those with the highest HDL counts, greater than 55 mg/dL, […]

Dec 082010
Walking and the Risk of Cognitive Decline

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh analyzed the relationship between walking and brain structure in 426 people: 299 cognitively healthy adults, 83 people with MCI, and 44 people with Alzheimer’s dementia. The researchers monitored how far each of the patients walked in a week. After 10 years, all patients underwent 3-D MRI exams to identify changes in brain volume. When they entered the study in 1989-1990, participants were asked how many city blocks they walked […]

Nov 172010

Readers, The Annual Society for Neuroscience Meeting is where fundamental neuroscience research is presented to a worldwide audience. This year’s meeting includes research presentations from many of the cutting edge labs working on AD. In today’s blog, I will summarize a few of the many findings presented at this meeting that are helping us get a better picture of AD, as well as potential new avenues for its treatment. Our current thinking about the cause […]

Nov 032010

Dear Readers, About 750,000 people in the United States develop sepsis each year. Known in lay terms as blood poisoning, sepsis occurs when the bloodstream is overwhelmed with bacteria, usually in response to the body’s attempt to fight severe infection. Sepsis is a leading cause of death in hospital ICUs, and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to this life-threatening blood infection. The thinking had been that once the crisis is over, older people who survive […]

Oct 072010
The Global Cost of Dementia

The Global Economic Impact of Dementia, the first study of such scope to examine the macroeconomics of all types of dementias, released by the non-profit group Alzheimer’s Disease International 2010 includes some hard-to-ignore data. About 35.6 million people worldwide live with some type of dementia — about four times the population of Sweden. That caseload will increase to 65.7 million by 2030 and 115.4 by 2050. It seems that with each new study, the numbers […]

Sep 302010

As we move forward in our understanding of the underlying mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease, insights are constantly emerging from many different fronts. The disease is quite complex, and facts discerned by each new discovery must be assembled into an ever evolving theory. Sometimes, results that initially seem to be at odds with previous findings turn out to be integral to a clearer understanding of the disease. In the field of Alzheimer research, there have been […]

Sep 222010
Brain Atrophy and B Vitamins

Brain atrophy involves the loss of neurons. Some degree of atrophy and subsequent brain shrinkage is common with old age, even in people who are cognitively healthy. However, this atrophy is accelerated in people with mild cognitive impairment and even faster in those who ultimately progress from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease. Many factors have been implicated in affecting the rate of brain atrophy, one of which is high levels of an amino acid […]

Sep 152010
The Connection Between Amyloid, Tau and FYN

Readers, Amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) are the two classic hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), but the connection between their two respective proteins—beta-amyloid and tau—has remained mysterious. Now, a paper published on July 21 in the prestigious journal Cell details a molecular mechanism that links tau to beta-amyloid toxicity at the synapse. The groundbreaking new study was led by Professor Jürgen Götz and Dr Lars Ittner, based at the University of Sydney. Back in […]

Sep 082010

Dear Readers, As readers of this blog will recall, years of research have revealed that ß-amyloid is produced by the cleavage of a very large protein found throughout the body called amyloid precursor protein, or APP, by the enzyme gamma-secretase. An obvious ‘target’ for pharmaceutical intervention would be the development of gamma-secretase inhibitors: Blocking cleavage of APP by gamma-secretase to form amyloid-ß would prevent this abnormal accumulation in the brain, and prevent ß-amyloid from exerting […]

Aug 262010

Dear Readers, The “hippocampal theta rhythm” is a specific type of electrical activity that can be observed in the hippocampus and other brain structures in numerous species of mammals including rodents, rabbits, dogs, cats, bats and marsupials. In the oldest EEG literature dating back to the 1920s, Greek letters such as alpha, beta, theta and gamma were used to classify EEG waves falling into specific frequency ranges, with “theta” generally meaning a range of about […]

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