About me

I am a Senior Researcher at the Divisions of Clinical Geriatrics and Neurogeriatrics, where I perform research on multi-modal MRI-PET imaging in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other neurodegenerative disorders in the spectrum of fronto-temporal degeneration (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).   

Supervision of PhD students

Nov 2021 – present: Main supervisor of PhD student Mona-Lisa Malarte, KI. Date of defense: Oct 2023 (expected)

Mar 2022 - present: Co-supervisor of PhD student Melissa Taheri, KI.

Sept 2019 – Oct 2021: Co-supervisor of PhD student Mona-Lisa Malarte, KI. 

Sept 2016 – Dec 2019: Co-supervisor of PhD student Arianna Sala, Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Milan, Italy.

Jan 2015 – Oct 2018: Co-supervisor of PhD student Antoine Leuzy, KI

 

Supervision of master students and research assistants

Feb – May 2018: Main supervisor of Master Thesis Elisa Colato, University of Padova, Italy and KI

Aug 2017 – Jan 2018: Main supervisor of Master Thesis Mariam Mazrina, Uppsala University and KI

Sept 2013 – Jan 2014: Co-supervisor of Master Thesis Karen Butina, KI

Feb - Dec 2018: Supervisor of research assistant Mariam Mazrina, KI

Research description

As a Senior Researcher, I lead research projects on MRI-PET imaging to understand the dynamics of protein aggregation, neuroinflammation and brain structural changes in neurodegenerative diseases, from early preclinical stages of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and fronto-temporal degeneration (FTD). In collaboration with clinicians, the ultimate aim of my research line is to develop early diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers with high clinical utility. 

Current research projects: 

1) "Investigate a novel measure of cortical microstructure and its relationship to protein aggregation in preclinical Alzheimer's disease and the spectrum of FTD-ALS"

In this project, I apply a novel diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) technique to measure cortical microstructure as a promising early diagnostic and prognostic biomarker in preclinical AD and across diverse neurodegenerative diseases. In this line of research, I have a close international collaboration with Patrizia Vannini from Massachusetts General Hospital / Harvard Medical School, Boston, US, and Juan Fortea and Victor Montal of Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. 

"The relationship between cortical microstructural changes and in vivo amyloid-β and tau in aging and preclinical Alzheimer's disease", Rodriguez-Vieitez, Montal, Sepulcre, Lois, Hanseeuw, Vilaplana, Schultz, Properzi, Scott, Fortea, Johnson, Sperling, and Vannini.

Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA / Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Charlestown, MA, USA / Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden / Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, Barcelona, Spain / Saint Luc University Hospital, Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium / Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

2021 Alzheimer's Association International Conference:

https://twitter.com/elenarv/status/1419997108447416341?s=20&t=KuH1p9dKx…

 

 

Besides preclinical AD, I have investigated cortical microstructure in relation to astrocytosis in familial forms of AD:

“Cortical microstructural correlates of astrocytosis in autosomal-dominant Alzheimer’s disease", Vilaplana*, Rodriguez-Vieitez*, Ferreira, Montal, Almkvist, Wall, Lleó, Westman, Graff, Fortea and Nordberg, Neurology 2020;94:1 *These authors contributed equally. IF 8.05, PMID: 32291295; https://n.neurology.org/content/94/19/e2026

 

2) "Toward early prognostic biomarkers in the ALS-FTD spectrum"

Together with Caroline Ingre and Sebastian Lewandowski at KI, we aim to integrate FDG-PET imaging and fluid (CSF and plasma) biomarkers of metabolic, vascular and neuroinflammatory changes in patients on the ALS-FTD spectrum. The aim of this project is to develop objective biomarker tools that may help clinicians to improve prognosis of speed of disease progression in patients, which will help determine their optimum patient management and treatment options. 

 

3) "Clinical utility of FDG PET imaging in memory clinic patients with uncertain diagnosis"

- Clinical utility of FDG PET imaging in memory clinic patients with uncertain diagnosis, Giulia Perini, MD, University of Pavia, Italy; Agneta Nordberg, KI, Laetitia Lemoine, KI

 

4) "Untangling heterogeneous pathways to Alzheimer's disease by investigating discordance between amyloid CSF and PET imaging biomarkers"

A. Sala, A. Nordberg, E. Rodriguez-Vieitez. "Longitudinal Longitudinal pathways of cerebrospinal fluid and positron emission tomography biomarkers of amyloid-β positivity", Molecular Psychiatry 2020, Dec 11; JIF 12.38

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41380-020-00950-w

In this study we identifed two alternative pathological pathways leading to Alzheimer's disease. Using a large longitudinal dataset of amyloid protein accumulation as measured by brain images and biochemical samples from the cerebrospinal fluid, we showed that Alzheimer’s-related amyloid pathology can be detected first in the brain in some individuals, or first in the cerebrospinal fluid in other individuals, adding to evidence that Alzheimer's is a heterogeneous disease. These results have biological and clinical implications. 

This research is as part of the EU-funded AMYPAD project, "Amyloid imaging to prevent Alzheimer's disease", https://amypad.eu (KI principal investigator: Agneta Nordberg)

 

Methods

Besides image processing and quantification, I have a strong focus on novel statistical approaches to unravel the associations between brain morphology, underlying molecular biology changes in the central nervous system and the periphery, and cognition.

Overall, I have co-authored over 55 peer-reviewed publications in international journals. I have co-supervised two PhD students and mentored several master and undergraduate students, collaborate with clinicians, and currently co-supervise PhD student Mona-Lisa Malarte, KI.

Through my ongoing projects, I plan to strengthen my collaboration with other national and international research institutions and hospitals, and to focus on research with high potential for patient benefit. 

 

Teaching portfolio

Course leader in PhD course "Translational Molecular Brain Imaging in Neurodegenerative Disorders" (Spring 2020, 2021, and 2022), Neuroscience Programme, Karolinska Institutet

Teaching lectures on PET imaging in neurodegenerative disorders at various courses:

- KI Master in Biomedicine (course leader Louisa Cheung), since 2017

- Stockholm University "Specialist Course in Clinical Neuropsychology: Theory and Method” (course leader Maria Lindau), since 2017

- KI Advanced Course in Alzheimer’s disease & other dementias, since 2016

- KI PhD course "Application of molecular biology and molecular brain imaging techniques in neurodegenerative disorders", 2013, 2016 (course leader Taher Darreh-Shori)

 

Education

PhD Nuclear Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, USA (2007)

MS Civil Engineering, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA (1998)

BS Physics, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain (1994)

 

 

Academic honours, awards and prizes

Positions

Oct 2015 – present: Forskare (Senior Researcher), Dept. Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society (NVS), KI

May 2020 - present: Member of NVS Department Board, KI, representative of Forskare

Nov 2019 - present: Research Affiliate (non-employee), Harvard Aging Brain Study (HABS), Massachusetts General Hospital & Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA

Mar 2020 – present: Course leader, "Translational Molecular Brain Imaging in Neurodegenerative Disorders" (PhD Course number 3231), Doctoral Programme in Neuroscience, KI

Jan 2022 - present: Associate Editor of Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease

Sep 2018 – present: Steering Committee member, NeuroPET, Swedish network of researchers in PET imaging

Jan 2018 – present: Organizing team member, “PhD/postdoc seminars, KI Div. Clinical Geriatrics and Neurogeriatrics”

Apr 2016 - Apr 2018: Member of Steering Committee, Junior Faculty, KI

 

Awards

Alzheimer’s Association 2021 De Leon Neuroimaging Prize in the Trainee category (Arianna Sala), for journal article: Sala A,  Nordberg A, Rodriguez-Vieitez E,  Molecular Psychiatry 2020, JIF(2020) 15.99

2020 Global Mentorship Award, from the EMCC Global Mentor and Coaching Association https://www.emccglobal.org/about_emcc/awards/

Award for excellence in teaching, University of California at Berkeley: 2006-2007 Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award, UC Berkeley

2013-2014 Wenner-Gren Postdoctoral Fellowship for postdoctoral research at Karolinska Institutet,

2014 Fundación Barrié de la Maza, award to professional research trajectory, 26 December

2013 Young Investigator Award, Human Amyloid Imaging Conference, Miami (USA)

2008-2009 Postdoctoral Fellowship Grant, Harvard University

2007-2008 Postdoctoral Fellowship Grant, Stanford University

2007 Postdoctoral Fellowship Fundación Caja Madrid

 

Research grants

2022: Region Stockholm ALF Medicine FoUI-960437; Alzheimerfonden AF-968569; Demensfonden; Stohnes; KI Fonder

2021: Alzheimerfonden AF-939647; Demensfonden; Erik & Edith Fernström Foundation for Medical Research; KI Fonder

2020: Alzheimerfonden AF-845821; Åke Wiberg Foundation; Demensfonden; Erik & Edith Fernström Foundation for Medical Research; Olle Engkvist Foundation; KI Fonder

 

Conference organizer

Spring 2022: Symposium leader at Brain & BrainPET International Conference, Glasgow, UK, 28 May – 1 June, 2022, https://brain2022.scot

Sub-Chair for Neuroinflammation, 16th European Molecular Imaging Meeting (EMIM 2021), 24-27 August 2021, https://e-smi.eu/meetings/emim/emim-2021/

Member of Program Committee, SPIE 2021, Emerging Topics in Artificial Intelligence, 1-5 August 2021, virtual conference, https://spie.org/OP21N/conferencedetails/emerging-topics-in-ai

Symposium organizer at Brain and BrainPET 2022 international conference, 28 May - 1 June 2022, https://brain2022.scot