Profile – Professor Jennifer Whitwell

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Professor Jennifer Whitwell


Professor Jennifer Whitwell

Job title:

Professor of Radiology

Place of work / study:

Department of Radiology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN / ISTAART Atypical Alzheimer’s Disease PIA

Area of Research:

My research focuses on the investigation of neuroimaging biomarkers, including MRI and PET, in different neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal lobar degeneration. I have particularly focused on using neuroimaging to better understand disease mechanisms and progression in patients with atypical clinical presentations of Alzheimer’s disease, highlighting the phenotypic heterogeneity present in this disease.

How is your work funded?

My work is funded through R01 research grants from the National Institutes of Health.

Tell us a little about yourself:

I grew up in the UK and graduated from Oxford University with a Bachelor’s degree in biology.  My first job out of college was as a research assistant in the Dementia Research Centre, University College London (UCL), and I went on to do a PhD in Neurological Sciences at UCL. I moved to the US in 2005 to work at Mayo Clinic in the Department of Radiology and I have been here ever since. I started at Mayo as a post doc research fellow and am now a Professor and Associate Consultant in Radiology and co-lead the Neurodegenerative Research Group. When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time with my six-year-old son and playing tennis.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself:

Growing up I wanted to be a marine biologist and got my scuba diving qualification in the Red Sea. If I had pursued that perhaps I would now be living in a tropical paradise studying sea turtles!

Why did you choose to work in dementia?

I entered the field directly after finishing my degree in biology at a time when I did not know much about dementia or research. I applied for my first job as a research assistant because it sounded interesting and was related to biology. So, for me, I think the more pertinent question is why did I stay in the field for 20+ years? I stayed because this is such a fascinating area to work in. There are always new questions to answer and new technologies to utilize that constantly improve our understanding of brain dysfunction in different types of dementia.

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