Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. Studies have found that TBI increases a person’s risk for dementia, but the mechanisms are unclear. Does TBI cause dementia, and if so, can we do anything about it?
These are some of the questions that drive Raquel Gardner’s research program on TBI and brain aging. Gardner uses epidemiological methods to study the population-level impact of TBI on brain function in order to uncover risk and protective factors for post-TBI cognitive decline and dementia. As part of a GBHI-funded project, Gardner is developing and validating a Spanish-language survey for evaluating lifetime history of TBI in order to study long-term consequences of TBI in Spanish-speaking individuals, an understudied population.
Gardner also co-directs the GBHI Epidemiology & Population Health Curriculum, in which Fellows learn about population health research methods. Gardner is passionate about teaching research methods because she believes that a deep understanding of the strengths and limitations of current population brain health research will enable Fellows to develop high-impact dementia prevention initiatives in their own communities.
Bio: Raquel Gardner is an assistant professor at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center and Weill Institute for Neurosciences. Gardner received her MD from Harvard Medical School. She completed a residency in neurology and a clinical fellowship in behavioral neurology at UCSF, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in dementia epidemiology at the San Francisco VA Medical Center (SFVAMC) and a certificate program in advanced training in clinical research methods and biostatistics at the UCSF Clinical and Translational Science Institute. She is also faculty in the UCSF/SFVAMC Center for Population Brain Health and leads the geriatric TBI interest group as part of the TBI Endpoints Development (TED) initiative. For her clinical practice, she is a staff physician at the SFVAMC where she evaluates and treats military veterans with cognitive and behavioral disorders.