Internationally Renowned Alzheimer’s Expert to Join Wake Forest Baptist Faculty

June 14, 2012

An internationally renowned expert on aging and dementia is joining Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center to further develop its Alzheimer’s disease research program.

Suzanne Craft, Ph.D., will be a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, Section on Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, and research director of the J. Paul Sticht Center on Aging. She also will serve as co-director of the Roena B. Kulynych Center for Memory and Cognition Research.

Her appointments will become effective Oct. 1.

Craft is a neuropsychologist with specialization in neuroendocrinology and neuroscience. Her research has focused on the role of neuroendocrine abnormalities in the development and expression of Alzheimer’s disease. This original line of work has garnered international attention, and Craft is recognized as a leading authority on the role of insulin metabolism in Alzheimer’s disease and aging. Her research recently has been expanded to examine the role of insulin in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s.

For the past 18 years, Craft has held a number of faculty positions at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she is currently a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. She also is deputy director of the Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center and director of the Memory Disorders Clinic/Memory Wellness Program at the Veterans Administration Puget Sound Health Care System.

Craft recently received a $7.9 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to lead a multi-center study investigating the use of intranasal insulin in individuals with mild cognitive impairment or mild Alzheimer’s dementia. It was one of two projects selected by the NIH as part of the National Alzheimer’s Plan, a federal initiative to find an effective way to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s by 2025.

Craft received her undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Virginia, where she was an Echols Scholar. She received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Texas at Austin and completed post-doctoral fellowships in neuropsychology and behavioral neuroscience at Harvard Medical School’s Mailman Research Center and the Boston University School of Medicine.

Craft’s honors and awards include a MERIT Award from the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2010 Zenith Award. She also has been Pfizer Visiting Professor at Johns Hopkins University and was a featured scientist in the HBO documentary series “The Alzheimer’s Project.” In addition to her extensive research and numerous publications, Craft serves on a number of editorial boards and national review panels and committees.

Jeff Williamson, M.D., chair of geriatrics and gerontology at Wake Forest Baptist, said the opportunity to work with Craft and to expand research efforts is exciting.

“Dr. Craft’s work has been instrumental in developing a new level of understanding about the basic cause and nature of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Williamson, who will co-direct the Kulynych Center with Craft. “Her work in this area is among the most widely cited of the existing Alzheimer’s literature.”

At Wake Forest Baptist, Craft will be joined by Laura Baker, Ph.D., a nationally recognized leader in the areas of aerobic exercise and hormone supplementation as treatments for memory decline associated with pre-clinical and early stage Alzheimer’s disease. Baker, a cognitive neuroscientist in the University of Washington’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, will join Wake Forest Baptist as an associate professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, Section on Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, and of Public Health Sciences in the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention.

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