UCLA Welcomes New Director of Alzheimer’s Center

Dr. Keith Vossel joins UCLA after creating a comprehensive Alzheimer’s research program at the University of Minnesota


Dr. Keith Vossel

Dr. Keith Vossel will become the director of the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Research and Care at UCLA (UCLA Easton Center), effective July 31, 2020. 

Dr. Vossel is known for his key discovery that many Alzheimer’s patients experience nighttime seizure activity that disrupts their sleep. He first noticed the seizure activity in mice, which led him to investigate whether the same phenomenon might be occurring in people as well. By monitoring patients overnight, he detected the seizure activity, which appears to accelerate cognitive decline. 

To treat these patients, he began a phase 2 clinical trial with an antiseizure medication that improved learning and memory in mice. Meanwhile, in the lab, he investigated how the protein tau, which builds up in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, plays a role in seizure activity. 

“I've had the rare privilege to study a scientific question both in animal models and human condition and come up with therapies that can be tried directly in our patients,” he said. “This is one of the things I envision for the growing Alzheimer’s center at UCLA.”

Before coming to UCLA, Dr. Vossel completed residency training in neurology at Harvard/Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, followed by fellowship training in behavioral neurology and postdoctoral training in neurodegenerative disease laboratory research at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Gladstone Institutes, where he began the seizure study. From UCSF, he moved to the University of Minnesota, where he has been Associate Professor in the Department of Neurology and Scholar in the Institute for Translational Neuroscience. 

Dr. Vossel’s research has been recognized with prestigious awards from the National Institutes of Health. He has also won many other awards, including the Wallin Neuroscience Discovery Award, the Beeson Career Development Award in Aging, and John Douglas French Distinguished Research Award.

Dr. Vossel will replace interim director Dr. Gregory Cole, who has served in the position since 2016. Dr. Vossel said he is looking forward to building on the strengths of the UCLA Easton Center. 

“Our plan is to grow the center’s expertise in areas of neuroimaging, stem cell biology, and precision medicine,” he said. Additionally, he plans to extend more opportunities to the Los Angeles community for participating in research studies.

“Through the marvelous efforts of Dr. Tom Carmichael, the center is already collaborating with a lot of neurologists in the community,” Dr. Vossel said. “I’d like to expand the diversity of the clinical research population at UCLA Health, and incorporate patients from the Olive View Memory Disorders Clinic and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Outpatient Center into the research.”

We look forward to welcoming Dr. Vossel to UCLA.