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Kristine Yaffe, MD

Professor of Psychiatry, neurology and epidemiology
Scola Endowed Chair
Vice Chair of Research in Psychiatry
UC San Francisco

UCSF Faculty Profile
Lab Website
Key Areas: epidemiology, cognitive aging, dementia, neurology

Kristine Yaffe is an international leader in the identification of dementia risk factors. She conducted landmark studies on the links between dementia and hormone therapy, physical activity, cardiovascular risk factors, sleep quality, PTSD, and traumatic brain injury. Her forward-thinking perspective on the relationship between modifiable risk factors and dementia—particularly recognizing the continuum of cognitive aging—has provided specific targets for dementia prevention and placed her at the cutting-edge of the field. 

I am committed to mentoring the next generation of leaders and to developing scalable strategies for dementia risk reduction across diverse populations.

Yaffe is a revolutionary among Alzheimer’s disease researchers. She is the rare investigator who successfully translates basic science to population-based health by bridging the fields of neurology, psychiatry, and epidemiology. As a leader in identifying modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, her lab consistently spearheads the latest breakthroughs in the prevention of cognitive aging and dementia. She was one of the earliest scientists to identify the critical roles of estrogen therapy, physical activity, and the metabolic syndrome in dementia risk, and in the past five years alone, she helped identify the importance of sleep disorders, early life cardiovascular risk factors, and traumatic brain injury.

Yaffe’s innovative research has changed the perception of the nature of dementia risk and its potential for prevention. Her research has propelled the field forward with compelling and operational evidence for multiple risk factors for dementia and accelerated cognitive aging. The accumulation of her work has helped to further shift ideas about prevention by providing support for addressing multiple, modifiable risk factors at one time—a strategy that is increasingly recognized as essential for dementia prevention. 

Bio: Kristine Yaffe attended Yale University for her undergraduate degree, received her medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania, and completed residencies in neurology and psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. She is the Scola Endowed Chair, vice chair of research in psychiatry, and professor of psychiatry, neurology and epidemiology at UCSF. She is also the chief of neuropsychiatry and director of the Memory and Evaluation Clinic at the San Francisco Veterans Affair Medical Center. In her research, clinical work, and mentoring, she has directed her efforts toward improving the care of patients with cognitive disorders and other geriatric neuropsychiatric conditions.

Yaffe’s research focuses on the epidemiology of cognitive aging. As the principle investigator of multiple grants from the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, and several foundations, she is a leading expert in the modifiable risk factors of dementia. She has published over 440 peer-reviewed articles (H-index=117) in numerous prestigious journals including the Lancet, British Medical Journal, New England Journal of Medicine, and Journal of the American Medical Association. Yaffe served as the co-chair of the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Cognitive Aging, which released a report in 2015 entitled, “Cognitive Aging: Progress in Understanding and Opportunities for Action.” She is also a member of the Council of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases and the Alzheimer's Association Medical & Scientific Advisory Council. Yaffe has been recognized by Thomas Reuters as one of the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds and has received several awards for her distinguished scholarly work, including the Royer Award for Academic Excellence in Psychiatry, the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry Distinguished Scientist Award, the USF Faculty Research Awards in Clinical Science, and the 2017 Potamkin Award.