The primary goal of the Research Education Component (REC) is to identify, attract, and promote the career development of ADRD investigators. The PITT-ADRC REC assumes primary responsibility for executing the Center’s bold vision for advancing the ADRD research workforce with a particular emphasis on cultivating the growth of our field’s future leaders.

Howard Aizenstein, MD, PhD

The inclusion and promotion of junior investigators in multiple areas of dementia research within our PITT-ADRC is an important responsibility of our senior faculty.

With over a dozen federally funded training programs (T32s) in the neurosciences and/or aging, the University of Pittsburgh has the infrastructure for scientific mentoring and a critical mass of trainees – both basic and clinical – with an interest in ADRD research. Through participation in the aforementioned training programs and/or one-on-one mentorship by a senior investigator, early stage investigators at Pitt have many excellent opportunities to develop their skills in clinical and basic research methodology, grant writing, and manuscript preparation. We plan to leverage these existing resources for career development at the University of Pittsburgh by providing an additional centralized program of ADRD-specific research mentoring and an innovative pathway for the development ADRD research leadership through the Optimizing Scientific Careers in AD Research (OSCAR) scholars program.

The REC is tightly integrated with the Center’s cores. We view research training through a primarily apprenticeship model, where the trainees develop through one on one work with their mentors, many of whom are participating faculty in other cores of the ADRC. The REC will enhance the research education occurring in the cores by coordinating trainee-wide activities, individualizing curriculum (especially in matching clinical research activities), and devoting administrative support to organizing events, matching mentees with mentors, and developing centralized resources for navigating the complex clinical research and regulatory environment of ADRD research.

The REC will have a large and sustained impact on the field by training new leaders.  This leadership is essential for meeting the expanding needs of the growing ADRD research work force.  The innovative OSCAR ADRC core leader training program can become a model for research education and leadership training across the ADC network.


Jennifer Lingler, PhD, CRNP Co-Leader
Karl Herrup, PhD Co-Investigator
Dana Tudorascu, PhD Co-Investigator
Melissa Knox Coordinator
Kristen Fair Administrative Liaison
Darlene Zellers, PhD Consultant
Doris Rubio, PhD Consultant


The OSCAR Scholars Program

OSCAR Scholars participate in ADRD-specific leadership development activities and a leadership apprenticeship with an ADRC Core Leader or Associate Leader.

Current OSCAR Scholars

Teresa Anguiano, PhD
Yurun Cai, PhD
H. Matthew Lehrer, PhD
Pradeep Reddy Raamana, PhD



Mary Ackenbom, MD, MS
Brandon McKinney, MD, PhD
Tharick Pascoal, MD, PhD
Kristine Wilckens, PhD


Bistra Iordanova, PhD
Helmet Karim, PhD
Thomas Pearce, MD, PhD
C. Elizabeth Shaaban, PhD
Andrea Weinstein, PhD


Meet the current OSCAR Scholars

Teresa Anguiano, PhD

Dr. Teresa Anguiano is a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Neurobiology at Pitt’s School of Medicine where she is currently investigating the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Her work explores oxidative neuronal DNA damage as an early inducer of Alzheimer’s disease-related pathology.  Her studies aim to determine whether extensive DNA damage induces ApoE fragmentation in neuronal progenitor cells, neurons, or astrocytes, in an allele-specific manner.  She will also identify whether DNA damage-induced fragmentation of ApoE is dependent on its cellular origin (neuronal or astrocyte-derived).

Dr. Anguiano was awarded an NINDS T32 Training Grant for Training in Neurobiology of Neurological Disease.

As a Neuropathology core OSCAR Scholar, Dr. Anguiano welcomes the opportunity to improve her leadership skills while developing her career as an independent investigator.

Yurun Cai, PhD

Dr. Yurun Cai is an Assistant Professor in the department of Health and Community Systems in Pitt’s School of Nursing.

Her research has focused on mobility, physical activity, and sensorimotor function and their associations with cognitive aging. In recent years, she has extended her research focus to further explore the association between sensorimotor function and cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s dementia and related disorders.

In her future research, Dr. Cai will continue to apply advanced statistics such as latent growth curve modeling to delineate cognitive decline across multiple domains. Multiple types of analysis will also be used to unravel accelerometer data and gait parameters. This contributes to her goal of leading a statistical team to focus on these data analyses for future projects.

As an OSCAR Scholar in the Data Management & Statistics Core, Dr. Cai seeks to strengthen her research skills particularly in data management and analysis. She hopes that the leadership development activities in the program will prepare her to be a statistical team leader.

H. Matthew Lehrer, PhD, MS

Dr. Henry Matthew Lehrer is an Assistant Professor in the department of Psychiatry and a sleep and circadian scientist.

His research examines the consequences of long-term sleep and circadian disruption on biological (e.g., mitochondrial dysfunction) and cognitive aging.

He was recently awarded a K01 Career Development grant to characterize Alzheimer’s disease risk in retired night shift workers. This study compares retired night shift workers to retired day workers on Alzheimer’s-relevant indices of brain volume, cognitive function, and brain bioenergetics. Findings will provide evidence on the potential “scarring” of shift work exposure on Alzheimer’s risk and will facilitate early identification of at-risk individuals.

Through the OSCAR Scholars program, Dr. Lehrer hopes to augment his K award training and become more established as an Alzheimer’s disease researcher, positioning himself to be a leader at the intersection of sleep and circadian science, biological aging, and Alzheimer’s disease research.

Pradeep Reddy Raamana, PhD

Dr. Pradeep Reddy Raamana is an Assistant Professor at the Departments of Radiology, Biomedical Informatics and Intelligent Systems.

Dr. Raamana’s research focuses on developing multidisciplinary techniques for precision medicine by advancing the the best practices for machine learning, biostatics, quality control, and open science.  His research in the Open MINDS Lab is driven by the motivation to maximize reproducibility and potential for clinical translation.

He has developed a number of methods and tools in machine learning and statistics for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease, and to accurately differentiate AD from other neurological disorders. He is a passionate advocate for quality, reproducible and open science.

During his time as an OSCAR Scholar, he hopes to develop synergistic and close collaborations with ADRC researchers, to sharpen his ideas, and to improve the adoption of best practices in machine learning, neuroimaging quality control, data science and open science.