Research project description

PhD will investigate the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of Mixed Alzheimer’s disease (with cerebrovascular disease). 

Data from numerous clinical-pathologic cohort studies have shown that mixed pathology, especially Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology plus cerebrovascular disease (CVD) is the most common cause of dementia, particularly in older persons. However, most in vivo biomarkers and clinical trials focus on one specific underlying pathology contributing to cognitive impairment.  

Our main aim in this project will be to deepen into the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of Mixed Alzheimer’s disease (with cerebrovascular disease). In order to do so, we have generated a cohort of 200 consecutive patients with Typical Alzheimer’s disease (AD) (n=140) and Mixed AD with cerebrovascular disease (Mixed AD/CVD) (n=60) with full clinical and neuropsychological and behavioral characterization at baseline and after 2-year follow-up. Biofluid (plasma and CSF) and imaging (MRI) markers will be explored in this cohort (and other pure vascular dementia cohorts) to evaluate their usefulness as diagnostic and prognostic markers. 

In parallel, the contribution of the cerebrovascular pathology will be investigated in different in vivo AD models exhibiting or not different grades of vascular pathology (APP23 and 5xFAD transgenic mouse lines). Our aim will be to characterize the models in terms of neuroimaging (cerebral MRI, fMRI and DCE-MRI) in order to define those parameters related with BBB disruption and the appearance of ischemic and hemorrhagic brain lesions associated with advanced age, among other structural and functional parameters specifically altered when a significant alteration of the cerebrovasculature occurs caused by the brain beta-amyloid deposition in vivo. The association of the most relevant neuroimaging features with behavioral disfunction and with biological markers in body fluids, including cerebrospinal fluid or blood, will be accurately explored. 

Academic background / Skills

Candidates must hold a degree that allows admission to the official doctoral programme at UAB.  

Additional requirements for a stronger application are: 

  • The candidate should demonstrate a strong interest in neuroscience, and clinical and translational research, a strong academic background and a diverse set of skills.  
  • A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as health sciences, biology or a related discipline is required.  
  • Specialized coursework in areas like epidemiology, biostatistics, or pharmacology and a master’s degree will be highly regarded.  
  • Additionally, familiarity with data analysis, statistical methods and the ability to interpret scientific literature are valuable.  
  • Effective communication skills, both written and verbal, are essential for collaboration, protocol development and disseminating research findings.  
  • Technical proficiency in relevant tools and software, coupled with critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, are also valuable skills.  
  • Adaptability to experimental methodologies and a commitment to ethical research practices round out the skill set needed for this position. 

Research group/s description

The Neurovascular Research Lab at VHIR is a translational and multidisciplinary group dedicated to investigate the causes of stroke and dementia, and to develop new therapies for these devastating conditions. We are a large team, formed by neurologists, biologists, nurses, statisticians.  

Our joint trajectory of work has been recognized with the accreditation as a “Consolidated Research Group” in three consecutive calls from the AGAUR-SGR. Our group also takes part of the National Research Stroke Network funded by ISCIII under the RETICS framework. 

Currently, the group is composed by 19 members (including 4 principal investigators). The scientific production of the group has been reflected in several long-term national and international collaborations, in large manuscript production with our leadership, in high-impact collaborative publications in the neurosciences and cell biology fields and in teaching new neuroscientists. 

Mar Hernández Guillamón, Neuroscience; Biochemistry; Biology

María Pilar Delgado Martínez, Neuroscience; Medicine; Neurology

Vall d’Hebron Research Institute