MedTech West in California

Michael Schöll at Berkeley 2015

Since October 2014 I have been working as a visiting scholar in one of the world’s foremost groups in the field of neuroimaging and aging, the Jagust Lab at the University of California, Berkeley.

This research group is headed by professor William Jagust who was one of the pioneers in using positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the study of Alzheimer’s disease and aging. The group’s primary mission is to identify processes that distinguish normal aging from developments eventually leading to dementia.

My initial project plan envisaged the investigation of a combination of existing functional MRI and PET data measuring certain protein (amyloid) accumulations in the brain to both learn more about the techniques and to generate knowledge about the relationship of the two modalities. However, upon arrival I was entrusted with joining an ongoing project on a new PET ligand measuring the accumulation of another protein (tau) in cognitively healthy elderly. With this being a “hot topic” in the field, our work quickly generated interesting abstracts that I presented at various conferences. First out was the Human Amyloid Imaging meeting in January in Miami, FL, where I could present a poster with early preliminary findings. Later in May, I presented a poster on more advanced results at the Human Brain Mapping conference in Honolulu, HI, and finally, I was invited to give two oral presentations the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) in Washington, D.C., one of which was awarded the “Best Oral Presentation Award”. Here is a feature on Alzforum discussing the talks amongst others: http://www.alzforum.org/news/conference-coverage/new-imaging-data-tells-story-travelling-tau).

Currently, we are writing up the work done during my stay at the Jagust Lab, which will come to an end mid-October. I will, however, continue to work on the project in form of a collaboration.

Staff at the Jagust Lab at Berkeley

The San Francisco Bay is not only a great place to conduct research, but offers plenty of possibilities to explore the urban environments of San Francisco, San Jose, and nearby Los Angeles, as well as access to unique nature and wildlife, which is enjoyed diligently by Northern Californians. Among the most fascinating places in the surroundings of the Bay are Napa Valley with its fantastic wine, Big Sur, Yosemite Park, and Lake Tahoe, all of which i tried to visit as often as possible.

I would like to thank MedTech West, especially professor Rolf Heckemann, and professor Lars Rönnbäck at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilition for making this exchange possible, and gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Swedish Medical Association and the Blanceflor Foundation.

Michael Schöll