Dr. Ozioma Okonkwo Selected by FABBS for Early Career Impact Award

Dr. Ozioma Okonkwo

Ozioma Okonkwo, PhD, assistant professor, Geriatrics and Gerontology, has been selected for an Early Career Impact Award by the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences (FABBS). This prestigious award is presented to early-career scientists of FABBS member societies during the first 10 years post-PhD and recognizes scientists who have made major contributions to the sciences of mind, brain, and behavior. 

Dr. Okonkwo's research focuses on identifying alterations in brain and cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers that place some cognitively normal people on a pathway that culminates in Alzheimer’s disease. His program has generated new knowledge about whether and how specific modifiable (e.g., physical exercise, cognitively-stimulating activities) and non-modifiable (e.g., genetic makeup) factors provide resilience to the deleterious effects of biomarker changes on cognitive function. In 2016, he also received an Early Career Award from the National Academy of Neuropsychology.

Novel findings reported by Dr. Okonkwo include:

  • identification of specific biomarker profiles linked to cognitive decline, Alzheimer's disease progression, and conversation to Alzheimer's dementia in people with mild cognitive impairment
  • identification of patterns of brain atrophy and shrinkage of critical brain structures occurring early in the course of disease, prior to observable memory changes
  • a protective effect of physical activity in midlife against Alzheimer's disease
  • a protective effect of frequent pursuit of cognitively-stimulating activities and intellectual enrichment accruing from higher educational attainment on reducing risk of Alzheimer's disease

The award will be formally presented at the FABBS annual conference in October, 2017.