Richard S. Isaacson, M.D., to Lead Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention
Richard S. Isaacson, M.D., a world-renowned neurologist and researcher, and director of the newly launched FAU Center for Brain Health within the Schmidt College of Medicine. (Photo by Alex Dolce)
Florida Atlantic University is pleased to welcome Richard S. Isaacson, M.D., a world-renowned neurologist and researcher, as director of the newly launched FAU Center for Brain Health within the Schmidt College of Medicine, established through the generous support of The Harry T. Mangurian, Jr. Foundation. He also will direct the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic and lead an academic clinical research program aimed at reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease, and Lewy body dementia in individuals with a family history of these diseases who do not yet have any cognitive decline or other clinical complaints.
“Most people are unaware that Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias begin silently in the brain decades before memory loss and other symptoms begin. This leaves ample time to make brain healthy choices in an effort to reduce risk and protect against cognitive decline,” said Isaacson. “I am excited to join FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine to help identify patients at risk and to design personalized prevention strategies to delay or possibly prevent the onset of these diseases.”
Isaacson will maintain a robust clinical research program for individualized prevention for patients at risk. The FAU Center for Brain Health will support basic research, clinical care, education and outreach. The center plans to grow the clinical team to begin seeing patients in the second quarter of 2022. In the meantime, the center has launched a free online course on brain health (faumedicine.org/alz/course/) for the public.
“Florida has the second highest prevalence for Alzheimer’s disease in the United States and is the sixth leading cause of death for Floridians 65 and older. Moreover, estimates project that more than 720,000 Floridians will be living with Alzheimer’s by 2025,” said Sarah K. Wood, M.D., interim dean, FAU Schmidt College of Medicine. “Dr. Isaacson is at the forefront of innovative technology that optimizes patient care, Alzheimer’s risk assessment and early intervention, and he will be a great asset to our college, university and community. We are very excited to welcome him back to South Florida.”
Isaacson specializes in AD risk reduction and pre-clinical AD. His clinical research has shown that individualized clinical management of patients at risk for AD may be an important strategy for optimizing cognitive function and reducing risk of dementia. He will work closely with Janet Robishaw, Ph.D., a leader in functional and translational genomics and the senior associate dean for research and chair of the Department of Biomedical Science in the Schmidt College of Medicine.
“I am looking forward to collaborating with Dr. Isaacson on multi-disciplinary approaches that will enable us to better understand basic biological mechanisms and cultivate new strategies to combat Alzheimer’s disease in South Florida and beyond through patient-centered research and discovery,” said Robishaw.
Prior to joining FAU, Isaacson served as director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic (APC), Weill Cornell Memory Disorders Program, assistant dean of faculty development, and associate professor of neurology at Weill Cornell Medicine & New York-Presbyterian. With his robust clinical practice and broad background in computer science, m-Health, biotechnology and web-development, he led interwoven clinical research and technology teams at the APC. Isaacson’s team rigorously evaluated the effects of personalized, evidence-based multi-modal interventions on cognition, serum/radiologic biomarkers of AD and calculated AD and cardiovascular risk.
Isaacson has published novel methods on using a precision medicine approach in real-world clinical practice of risk reduction for AD. He served as principal investigator (PI) for the APC Comparative Effectiveness Dementia & Alzheimer’s study and has served as PI and/or co-PI on several past AD research grants related to AD prevention, treatment and education.
“Alzheimer’s disease has impacted me on a personal level including my uncle Bob who was diagnosed while I was in high school as well as my cousin who was diagnosed about 15 years ago,” said Isaacson. “I am passionate about applying a comprehensive approach toward both the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, and more recently Parkinson’s and Lewy Body dementia.”
Before his tenure at Weill Cornell Medicine, Isaacson previously served as associate professor of clinical neurology, vice chair of education, and education director of the McKnight Brain Institute in the Department of Neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
He completed his residency in neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School, and his medical internship at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach. Before he joined the University of Miami, he served as associate medical director of the Wien Center for Alzheimer’s disease and Memory Disorders at Mount Sinai.
Isaacson led the development of Alzheimer’s Universe (AlzU.org) a vast online education research portal on AD (more than 2 million unique visitors) with results published in the Journal of the Prevention of Alzheimer's Disease; Journal of Communication in Healthcare, Alzheimer's & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions; and Neurology.
“I believe that through effective medical communication strategies, harnessing the broad reach of online, print and broadcast media can be an exceptional tool to disseminate information about neurology and preventative medicine to the general public,” said Isaacson, who has been quoted in several hundred news stories and featured by every major television outlet and in print, including cover stories on the 2016 U.S. News & World Report “Best Hospitals Edition,” among others, totaling more than 300 million impressions.
Isaacson is the author of numerous publications and his research in neurology and medical education has been presented at scientific meetings nationally and internationally, and was awarded the 2009 American Academy of Neurology A.B. Baker Teacher Recognition Award. He served as chair of the American Academy of Neurology e-Learning Subcommittee where he has led a video education interview series in collaboration with Neurology Today on COVID-19. He helped to launch the bimonthly “NeuroBytes” online video-based education program. Isaacson also is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society.For more information about the programs available at the FAU Center for Brain Health, visit http://faumedicine.org/alz.