eBRAIN Training

T32 Training Grant

Population Neuroscience of Alzheimer’s Disease and
Age-related Dementia (PNA)

Now accepting applications for the Population Neuroscience of Alzheimer’s Disease and Age-related Dementia (PNA) T32 Training Grant

Now accepting applications for pre-and post-doctoral positions

Scholars are eligible to receive:

  • Salary & Travel Stipends
  • Tuition Allowance • Customized Mentoring Plans
  • State-of-the-art Neuroepidemiological Study Cohorts
  • Cutting-edge Neuroimaging Resources
  • Team Science & Interdisciplinary Collaborative Research

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How to Apply »

Our Vision

To understand the causes and mechanisms of ADRD, population neuroscientists of the future must be able to link environmental exposures, lifestyles, comorbidities, and genomics with knowledge of modern technology of neurosciences and measurements of brain disease and data science.

About The Grant

T32 Training Grant

The University of Pittsburgh offers a pre- and post- doctoral training grant in Population Neuroscience of Aging & Alzheimer’s Disease.

The PNA Training Grant will train highly talented individuals to pursue successful independent research in the etiology of Alzheimer’s Disease and other age-related dementia (ADRD).

The grant offers 3 pre-doc (each one up to 4 years) and 2 post-doc positions (each one for up to 3 years).  

Our PNA curriculum addresses this need by providing:

  • foundational knowledge in population science and neuroscience of aging
  • availability of multi-center and international databases
  • enhanced training in cutting-edge multimodal methodologies to measure brain changes with age, including neuropsychological assessment, neuroimaging, and post-mortem assessments
  • hands-on experiences on recruitment and data collection, including internet-based study designs
  • opportunity to network with high-caliber scientists locally, nationally and internationally
  • training in the responsible conduct of research

T32 PNA Training Activities

Spring 2021 – Tuesdays 4-5 pm

Some event dates are TBD and may not be listed here; for more details please refer to the schedule linked below.

There are no upcoming events at this time.

Meet Our Students

2020-2021 PNA Epidemiology Trainees

Rebecca Ehrenkranz


My current research focuses on exploring energy in aging populations...

across the following domains: cognition, mood, physical function, and physical activity. I have a bachelors degree from Brandeis University and an MPH from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In my spare time, I enjoy rock climbing (both indoor and outdoor).

T-Shirt Motto  

We asked our T32 Trainees to give us their t-shirt motto – two short sentences answering these questions…

What have you discovered so far?

Self-reported energy in older adults reflects physical performance capacity and emotional wellbeing independent of pre-existing chronic conditions. Declining perceived energy levels may predict onset of parkinsonian signs and/or may be characteristic of the Parkinson’s Disease prodrome. 

What do you want to discover?

I would like to improve the operationalization of self-reported energy and its underlying neurobiology, including both structural and functional associations and the role of dopamine signaling. 

My research focuses on identifying...

environmental risk factors for brain aging.

I am particularly interested in reduction of health disparities in dementia, among Black and Hispanic older adults. My current projects involve examining the neural correlates underlying racial differences in cognitive impairment to clarify mechanisms.

T-Shirt Motto  

We asked our T32 Trainees to give us their t-shirt motto – two short sentences answering these questions…

What have you discovered so far?

In my first independent research project on a small sample of older adults, I discovered racial differences in gray matter volume for 4 memory-related ROIs remain even after taking into account various demographic, health, environmental, and social factors.

What do you want to discover?

I want to 1.) understand the neural correlates and mechanisms underlying racial differences in cognitive impairment and 2.) to identify environmental risk factors for healthy brain aging, to better inform future interventions and reduction of health disparities.

Sara Godina


Dr. Rosso

primary faculty mentor

Alina Lesnovskaya


Dr. Erickson

primary faculty mentor

My research focuses on promoting healthy brain aging...

through accessible non-pharmacological interventions, such as exercise training. I am also interested in utilizing functional and structural neuroimaging to study individual differences in healthy and pathological aging.

T-Shirt Motto  

We asked our T32 Trainees to give us their t-shirt motto – two short sentences answering these questions…

What have you discovered so far?

Personality traits influence cognitive function by way of cardiometabolic factors (e.g. adiposity, lipids, etc).

What do you want to discover?

How can brain biomarkers be used to predict progression from pre-clinical cognitive decline to dementia, and how can we use exercise to slow or halt this progression?

My research focuses on vascular contributions to...

cognitive impairment and dementia (VCID). I am particularly interested in the interplay of cerebrovascular integrity and Alzheimer’s disease pathology in the development of clinically overt cognitive impairment and whether promotion of cerebral small vessel integrity can prevent cognitive impairment. A new line of my work involves sex and gender differences and sex and gender-specific risk in VCID / Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD).

T-Shirt Motto  

We asked our T32 Trainees to give us their t-shirt motto – two short sentences answering these questions…

What have you discovered so far?

I have discovered that physical activity, growth factors, and vascular and cardiometabolic risk factor reduction can promote cerebral small vessel integrity, an important factor for Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders
(ADRD) prevention.

What do you want to discover?

I hope to discover whether sex and gender-based differences in cerebral small vessel integrity underpin sex and gender differences in ADRD.

Beth Shabaan


Dr. Klunk

primary faculty mentor

Briana Sprague


Dr. Rosano

primary faculty mentor

My research topic involves the relationship between...

complex physical functions (e.g., walking) and cognitive function (broadly, but primarily interested in processing speed) in older adulthood. In addition, I want to develop an understanding of how neurological mechanisms (e.g., dopamine) impact this relationship. Ultimately, I am interested in how we can leverage these factors to prevent or attenuate declines in physical, cognitive, and everyday function in older adulthood.

T-Shirt Motto  

We asked our T32 Trainees to give us their t-shirt motto – two short sentences answering these questions…

What have you discovered so far?

The ability to speed up one’s walking speed (“gait reserve”) may be associated with some important health metrics.

What do you want to discover?

I want to discover what factors predict the ability to speed up when walking. 

Previous Students

Past Trainees

Ayushi Divechi, MPT, MPH

Topic: Resilience in Cerebrovascular Chronic Conditions and Diseases

Advisor for MPH Thesis: Dr. Rosano

Clinical Research Coordinator, Clinical Laboratory for Early Brain Injury Recovery, Burke Neurological Institute

Clinical Research Coordinator, Restorative Neurology Clinic

Jason D. Flatt, PhD, MPH

Topic: Social Relationships and Brain Health

Post-Doc Mentor: Dr. Rosano

Jason Flatt, PhD, MPH is a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Social and Behavioral Program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, School of Public Health. Jason’s current research works to better understand the risk and protective factors for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias among LGBTQ seniors.

Timothy Michael Hughes, PhD

Topic: Cholesterol Metabolism in the Brain and Dementia

Advisor for PhD Thesis and Dissertation: Dr. Rosano

Assistant Professor, Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine. Research interests include: Alzheimer Disease, brain, cardiovascular risk factors, cerebrovascular circulation, dementia, and hydroxycholesterols.

Megan Olson Hunt, PhD

Advisor: Gong Tang, PhD

Supervisor, Graduate Student Researcher: Dr. Rosano

Associate Professor of Statistics in the Mathematics and Statistics Unit at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

Raj Kumar, PhD, MPH

Topic: Acute Inflammation and Infection: The effects on recovery following moderate to severe traumatic brain injury

Primary Mentor: Dr. Wagner

Dissertation Chair: Dr. Rosano

Postdoctoral Fellow at the Brain Injury Research Center at Mount Sinai

Maria Ly, MD, PhD

Topic: Uutilization of multimodal imaging and machine learning models to:

  • identify early biomarkers or predictors of outcome in aging and Alzheimer’s disease and
  • identify risk factors and resilience factors in aging and Alzheimer’s disease.
    My thesis work is based on a machine-learning algorithm that predicts brain age, which may be a proxy for brain reserve.

Primary Faculty Mentor: Dr. Aizenstein

Dana Jorgensen Murdock, PhD, MPH

Topic: Resilience in Cerebrovascular Chronic Conditions and Diseases

Pre-Doc Mentor: Dr. Gianaros

I am a Senior Manager of Epidemiology for Health Economics and Outcomes Research at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. For Regeneron, I review and synthesize published literature as well as generate real-world evidence to inform, support, and strengthen global development and commercialization activities for Regeneron products. I collaborate with HEOR colleagues on the design, conduct, interpretation, and reporting on results of analyses using real-world data, using my subject matter expertise in epidemiologic study design and methods.

Karen Nunley, PhD

Topic: Type 1 diabetes, brain structure and function

Primary Mentor: Dr. Rosano

Team Lead Chronic Disease Epidemiologist, State of Texas at Texas Dept of Health and Human Service

Anne Ritter, DrPH, MPH

Topic: Epidemiology of Post-Traumatic Seizures Following Moderate to Severe Traumatic Brain Injury

Primary Mentor: Dr. Amy Wagner

Dissertation Advisor: Dr. Rosano

US Army Medical Research and Development Command

Stephen Smagula, PhD

Topic: Determinants of depressive symptom trajectories among older adults in community and treatment settings

Pre-Doc Mentor: Dr. Cauley

Dr. Smagula is a neuroepidemiologist and clinical researcher focused on how sleep-wake disruption affects mental health in aging; and what can be done to optimize established links between sleep and wellbeing.

Qu (Teresa) Tian, PhD, MS

Topic: Brain Aging and the development of physical and cognitive decline

Pre-Doc Mentor: Dr. Rosano

Dr. Qu (Teresa) Tian is a Staff Scientist in the Translational Gerontology Branch, Longitudinal Studies Section of the Intramural Research Program at the National Institute on Aging.

Vijay Venkatraman, PhD

Topic: Automated segmentation of white matter hyperintensities on MR images

Advisor for PhD Thesis and Dissertation: Dr. Rosano

Imaging Scientist at National Institutes of Health


T32 Training
Grant Retreats

The 2020 Retreat has been canceled due to the COVID 19 crisis. It will be rescheduled at a later time.


T32 Forms

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