Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center

New staff at NIA

January 15, 2006


The NIA’s lead program for AD research—the Neuroscience and Neuropsychology of Aging (NNA) Program—recently welcomed three new health science administrators (HSAs). Each new staff member brings a wealth of scientific and administrative expertise to the NNA as the program continues to foster a variety of research programs exploring the normal course of aging in the neuronal system and the dementias of aging.

“We are delighted to welcome Nina Silverberg, Ph.D., Laurie Ryan, Ph.D., and Suzana Petanceska, Ph.D. They have impressive research experience and excellent science administration skills. We have truly strengthened our abilities to serve the scientific community and continue the quest to find the causes of age-related cognitive, motor, and sensory decline and of dementias such as AD,” said Marcelle Morrison-Bogorad, Ph.D., Director, NNA.

As the Assistant Program Director for the Alzheimer’s Disease Centers (ADCs), Dr. Silverberg will be responsible for assisting Dr. Creighton (Tony) Phelps with the Centers. Specifically, she will be involved with cognitive assessment in normal aging and dementia, education cores, and minority outreach programs in the ADCs.

Dr. Silverberg received her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona and was most recently a clinical research scientist at the Sun Health Research Institute (Arizona ADC). At the ADC, she was involved in grant development and extracting and analyzing data from the brain donation program database. Dr. Silverberg also coordinated the ADC’s American Indian outreach program. She was the principal investigator on a New Investigator Research Grant from the Alzheimer’s Association to assess the usefulness of culturally adjusted neuropsychological tools in an American Indian population. She worked closely with a neurologist and neuropsychologist in designing, carrying out, analyzing, and interpreting various investigations of AD, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), Parkinson’s disease, and normal aging.

Dr. Petanceska is a new HSA whose portfolio spans the Neurobiology of Aging and the Dementias of Aging branches at NNA. Her duties are to manage and develop a portfolio of grants addressing aspects of normal aging related to AD pathogenesis and to assist in developing the NNA’s translational initiatives.

Dr. Petanceska received her Ph.D. from the Sackler Institute for Graduate Biomedical Studies at New York University. Prior to coming to NNA, Dr. Petanceska was an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology at the Nathan Kline Institute/New York University. She has extensive research experience in AD pathogenesis and has had a long-standing interest in AD therapeutics. Her most recent research focused on the role of disrupted sterol metabolism in the development of AD amyloidosis and the mechanisms by which estrogens and cholesterol-lowering drugs might exert neuroprotection.

Dr. Ryan will be involved in the AD clinical trials program, which includes managing current AD clinical trials and further developing the clinical trials program by identifying goals, research questions, and appropriate investigators. She will also be responsible for helping to stimulate research in the clinical trials portfolio, including pilot and large-scale clinical trials for AD treatment, modification of disease progression, and prevention.

Dr. Ryan received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology with specialty training in neuropsychology at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Her professional interests as a neuro-psychologist center on the neurocognitive and behavioral manifestations of disorders affecting central nervous system function such as AD and traumatic brain injury. She was most recently the Assistant Director for Research and Senior Neuropsychologist for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, Department of Neurology, at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, where she was responsible for overseeing clinical research development and implementation in particular clinical trials. Dr. Ryan has also served as an Assistant Professor of Neurology, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.

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