The main goal of Dr. Whitwell's research is to use neuroimaging to increase understanding of how the brain changes in patients with a range of different neurodegenerative diseases, particularly frontotemporal dementia, progressive supranuclear palsy, apraxia of speech, primary progressive aphasia and atypical presentations of Alzheimer's disease. She utilizes magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scans to assess structural and functional changes in the brain and determine how these changes are related to clinical symptoms and disease progression. Dr. Whitwell's research is funded by the National Institute of Health and the Alzheimer's Association.
- Microbleeds in atypical Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Whitwell leads this study investigating associations between the presence of microbleeds and other clinical and imaging features in patients with clinically-defined atypical Alzheimer's disease.
- Neuroimaging in pathological variants of Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Whitwell leads this project assessing imaging correlates of pathologically-defined typical and atypical variants of Alzheimer's disease.
- Neuroimaging biomarkers in progressive supranuclear palsy. Dr. Whitwell works in collaboration with Dr. Keith A. Josephs, M.D., MST, MSc assessing patterns of atrophy and progression of atrophy over time in patients with progressive supranuclear palsy.
- Neuroimaging in speech and language disorders. Dr. Whitwell works in collaboration with Dr. Keith A. Josephs, M.D., MST, MSc assessing imaging correlates of primary progressive aphasia and apraxia of speech.
Significance to patient care
Neuroimaging biomarkers for these neurodegenerative diseases will help early diagnosis, prediction of future progression, and will be essential to the development of future treatments.
- AFAR-GE Healthcare Junior Investigator Award for Excellence in Imaging and Aging Research, 2010
- Alzheimer's Association New Investigator in Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Award for Best Paper, 2009