Dr Beth Shaaban
Place of work / study:
Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, USA
Area of Research:
I integrate epidemiology, biostatistics, neuroscience/neuroimaging, and psychology to study sex and gender in vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia (VCID), including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), using a Population Neuroscience framework.
How is your work funded?
A K01 career development grant from the National Institute on Aging of the US National Institutes of Health.
Tell us a little about yourself:
I am faculty in Epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health and a University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center REC Scholar working with the Outreach, Recruitment, and Engagement (ORE) Core. I have postdoctoral training in Population Neuroscience of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias, including training in neuroimaging biomarkers, and graduate training in Population Neuroscience of Aging and ultra-high field MRI imaging of cerebral small vessel disease (PhD), neuroscience (MS), and social and behavioral determinants of health (MPH).
I have been funded by NIH through prior T32 and F31 awards. My research focuses on identifying promoters of cerebral small vessel integrity to prevent AD and related disorders and has included evaluation of growth factors, physical activity, and vascular risk factor reduction. Present work includes an NIA funded K01 applying a Population Neuroscience approach to evaluate gender/sex influences on the cerebral small vessel disease-to-AD pathophysiological cascade and Co-I work on an NIA-funded R01 evaluating cognition and brain health in people with a history of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. My aim is to gain insight into gender-related and sex-specific intervention targets to reduce AD and promote brain health equity. I also have a line of work evaluating early career academic training and employment including examining factors associated with US health sciences postdoctoral fellows’ successful transition to academic career independence and how to best support early career dementia researchers around the world.
I’m also Vice Chair of the ISTAART PIA to Elevate Early Career Researchers.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself:
I am a beginning scuba diver, and I developed an interest in birding during COVID.
Why did you choose to work in dementia?
My mom was a nurse. When I was little, I loved to go with her to the nursing home where she worked, and I made good friends with some of the residents. When I was a bit older, one of my own grandmothers became demented. At the time, I didn’t understand why she thought I was my mother and why she was telling the same stories again and again. I only fully understood how complex and beautiful the brain is by seeing what happened when it stopped working the way it originally had. When I graduated from my undergraduate degree, I was hired as a neuropsychometrist for an Alzheimer’s research center, and I adored the study participants and their care partners as well as the multidisciplinary faculty and staff I worked with. I have been working in the field ever since!
What single piece of advice would you give to an early career researcher?
Many people will give you advice (solicited or unsolicited). YOU are in the driver’s seat and need to make the best decisions for you as a whole person.
What book are you reading right now? Would you recommend it?
Although I read it a while back, I want to put in a plug for The Picture of Dorian Gray. A friend and colleague gave me a copy several years ago, and it fully engrossed me as I read it.