"Our goal is to discover why the aging brain develops Alzheimer’s disease and develop strategies to prevent, delay and treat this disease."
Roberta Diaz Brinton, PhD
More than 20 years ago, Dr. Brinton had two fundamental insights that have, after years of research, yielded major breakthroughs in understanding the etiology of Alzheimer’s and therapeutics to prevent, delay and treat the disease. Her insights, which predated the advent of precision medicine, formed the basis for programs of research that are critical to personalized therapeutic care for Alzheimer’s disease.
She has over 180 scientific publications including reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Journal of Neuroscience and Nature Reviews, holds multiple patents co-founded a biotech company, mentored 22 graduate students, 10 postdoctoral fellows and 56 STAR students.
Dr. Brinton has received local, state and national recognition and has appeared in over 100 media outlets, including national and international broadcasts. In addition to her scholarly scientific pursuits, Dr. Brinton leads the USC Science, Technology and Research (STAR) Program, which has enabled inner city high school students to join a USC research laboratory for a full year, to learn science by conducting real scientific research. Since inception in 1989, the STAR Program has impacted over 650 high school students.
SCHOLARSHIP WITH CONSEQUENCE
Dr. Brinton’s scientific endeavors have been translated into two NIH National Institute on Aging funded clinical trials. This is an especially remarkable achievement for a single investigator, as each of these clinical trials target a different system, the first the estrogenic and bioenergetic system of the brain and the second the regenerative system of the brain. PhytoSERMs are designed as a prevention strategy in women and Allopregnanolone is designed to regenerate the brain in both men and women with Alzheimer’s.
As is typical of Dr. Brinton, she has devoted substantial time and effort enabling others to achieve success in their translational endeavors. She was a major contributor to the securing an NIH Clinical Translational Sciences Award in which she developed the Center for Scientific Translation. Under her leadership, the Center for Translational Science enabled translation of a diverse portfolio of drugs, biomarkers, stem cell therapies, nutraceuticals and medical devices, across USC and CHLA and facilitated 20 patent filings, three startup companies, 6 Investigational New Drug filings and 6 clinical trials.
Her latest venture is the development of a translational therapeutic development center to Cure Alzheimer’s, CURx-AD. Under her leadership, she is building a consortium of internationally recognized experts in big data, neuroinformatics, pharmaco-economics, systems pharmacology, molecular design and development, inducible pluripotent stem cells, biomedical simulations of million neuron networks, regulatory affairs and reimbursement, clinical care of Alzheimer’s disease and health policy. CURx-AD is bringing precision medicine to persons with Alzheimer’s, to treat the right person, at the right time with right therapeutic. CURx-AD will be a global resource that will provide open access, open innovation and open opportunity to cure Alzheimer’s disease.
In parallel to her innovative insights in science, she expanded her reach into the inner city high school of Los Angeles to create a problem-based learning opportunity for inner city Los Angeles.
Learn science by conducting real science that really matters Science, Technology and Research – STAR Program has mentored over 627 high school students, 100% graduated from high school, 100% attend college, over 80% of which are at research universities including CalTech, MIT, Stanford, Columbia, Princeton, Harvard, Yale, UCLA, UCSD, UC Berkeley and of course our personal favorite, USC. Over 80% of STAR students continue to conduct research during their undergraduate years and 50% go on to earn professional degrees.
Broader Reach and Greater Impact
Brinton currently serves on the National Institute of Health Advisory Board for the Center for Scientific Review, on the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation Scientific Advisory and Governing Boards. She has served on Advisory Boards for the National Institute of Mental Health and the Society for Neuroscience.
National and International Recognition
A seasoned scientist pursuing answers to one of this century’s greatest health challenges, Brinton has been recognized both nationally and internationally as a leader in the field. She was awarded USC Associates Award for Excellence in Teaching, “Scientist of the Year” by Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, “Woman of the Year” by the California State Senate, Remarkable Woman by USC, “Science Educator of the Year” by the Society for Neuroscience, Los Angeles Magazine “Woman of the Year”, and U.S. News & World Report’s “Ten Best Minds”. For her outstanding work in promoting STEM careers among students of color, President Barak Obama presented her with one of the nation’s highest civilian honors, the Presidential Citizens Medal.