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Dr. Nikolaos Scarmeas - International Federation on Ageing. New York City, NY, US

Dr. Nikolaos Scarmeas Dr. Nikolaos Scarmeas

Associate Professor of Clinical Neurology | Columbia University


Neurology expert theorizing the ageing brain and the variability of clinical response to AD pathology



Dr. Scarmeas received his MD degree from the Medical School of the University Of Athens in 1992. He subsequently completed a 2-year military service and was then employed as a physician in primary care of rural areas of Greece. Dr Scarmeas came to the US in 1996 and completed a Neurology residency training at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York in 2000. He then had a 2-year clinical-research fellowship in the division of Aging and Dementia of the department of Neurology of Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. Since 2002, Dr Scarmeas is Associate Professor of Neurology at Columbia University and is involved in clinical, teaching and research activities in the Department of Neurology and the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center.

I am interested in understanding the variability of clinical response to AD pathology, which is related to different inherent or acquired abilities. Such abilities, which are considered to represent each individual's cognitive reserve include IQ, education, and intellectual-social-physical life activities. These associations are explored epidemiologically or with imaging resting and activation PET and MRI studies.

Multivariate statistical methods in brain imaging are able to capture connectivity among brain regions and therefore identify brain networks (rather than individual brain areas). I am investigating whether differential expression of these networks may provide useful diagnostic or prognostic tools for MCI and AD.

Using data from our epidemiological cohorts I am exploring individual variability in rates of decline in AD as a function of either clinical (APOE genotype, education, life-activities, psychiatric symptoms, extrapyramidal features etc) or MRI imaging (i.e. white matter hyperintensities) predictors.

More recently, I have developed a special interest in the contribution of diet in AD risk. Recent literature on the effect of individual dietary elements is conflicting. I am investigating the effect of composite dietary patterns (such as the Mediterranean Diet) in AD risk.

Areas of Expertise (8)

Cognitive Reserve


Diet and Cognition

Lifestyle Social Intellectual Activities and Cognition - Dementia

Diet and Cognition - Dementia

Physical Activities Exercise and Cognition - Dementia

Mechanims Relating to Nutrition

Cognitive Reserve Factors with Cognition - Dementia

Education (2)

Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health: MA, Clinical Research 2005

Ethnikon kai Kapodistriakon Panepistimion Athinon / University of Athens: MD, Medicine 1992

Affiliations (1)

  • National and Kapodistrian University of Athens: Associate Professor Neurology Medical School

Media Appearances (2)

National Hellenic Society Honors Behrakis, Aniston, Antholis During Heritage Weekend

Greek American News  online


Throughout the weekend, a who’s who of renowned voices covered such topics as heritage and culture, science and medicine, sports, foreign policy, and the Presidency...

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Mediterranean Eating Habits Prove Good for the Brain

Scientific American  online


Scientists long believed that altering diet could not improve memory. But evidence to the contrary started to emerge about 10 years ago. For example, Nikolaos Scarmeas of Columbia University and his colleagues collected information about the dietary habits and health status of about 2,000 Medicare-eligible New Yorkers—typically in their mid-70s—over the course of four years on average...

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Featured Articles (3)

Self-Reported Sleep Disordered Breathing as Risk Factor for Mortality in the Elderly

Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases

2016 This study aimed to examine the association between self-reported sleep disordered breathing (SDB) (“awaken short of breath or with a headache”) and mortality in a large and ethnically diverse group of community-dwelling elderly people.

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Association Between Sleep Problems and Brain Volume in the Elderly

The Journal of the American Academy of Neurology

2015 To examine the association between self-reported sleep problems and regional brain volume in a large sample of older adults.

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Data from a cross-sectional study on Apolipoprotein E (APOE-ε4) and snoring/sleep apnea in non-demented older adults

Data in Brief

2015 In the present data, we provide the details of the cross-sectional study, from the Washington Heights-Inwood Community Aging Project (WHICAP) that examined the association between Apolipoprotein E (APOE-ε4) and snoring/sleep apnea. A total of 1944 non-demented older adults constituted our sample. Sleep dysfunction was measured using sleep categories derived from the Medical Outcomes Study Sleep Scale. Stratified analyses were conducted in order to examine the association between APOE-ε4 and sleep variables by ethnic group. For further analyses and enhanced discussion, see “Examining the association between Apolipoprotein E (APOE) and self-reported sleep disturbances in non-demented older adults” by Tsapanou et al. (2015) [1].

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