About me

I am a Senior Researcher at the Division of Clinical Geriatrics, where I perform research on positron emission tomography (PET) imaging in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other neurodegenerative dementias, towards understanding the in vivo patterns of neuroinflammation, proteinopathies and brain function. 

Research description

My research interests are focused on understanding the in vivo patterns of neuroinflammation, proteinopathies and brain function in Alzheimer's disease (AD), and toward developing early diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers in neurodegenerative diseases

With a strong background in multi-tracer PET imaging, my current research efforts are focused on incorporating diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) techniques 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. Recent findings were presented at the 2020 Alzheimer's Association International Conference:

"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

2020 Alzheimer's Association International Conference, https://twitter.com/elenarv/status/1289170335477063680?s=20


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


I currently supervise PET neuroimaging and fluid biomarkers research projects:

- Longitudinal pathways of cerebrospinal fluid and positron emission tomography biomarkers of amyloid-β positivity, Arianna Sala, PhD, San Raffaele Hospital, Milan, Italy 

- Clinical utility of FDG PET imaging in memory clinic patients with uncertain diagnosis, Giulia Perini, MD, University of Pavia, Italy


I currently collaborate on translational imaging and multidisciplinary projects:

- Antemortem-postmortem PET imaging studies, with Laetitia Lemoine at KI.

- PET imaging vs. fluid biomarkers in neurodegenerative diseases, with Sebastian Lewandowski at KI.


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 48 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. 



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

2012-2020 Research grants from Alzheimerfonden; Åke Wiberg Stiftelsen; Stiftelsen för ålderssjukdomar, Karolinska Institutet; KI Fonder; Gun och Bertil Stohnes Stiftelsen; Ahlén Stiftelsen; Stiftelsen för gamla tjänarinnor; Demensfonden; Loo och Hans Ostermans Stiftelsen

2019, 2020 Erik and Edith Fernström Foundation for Medical Research, KI Foundations

2013-2014 Wenner-Gren Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship

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


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