Yakeel T. Quiroz, PhD
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School
Director of Familial Dementia Neuroimaging Lab
Director of Multicultural Alzheimer’s Prevention Program (MAPP)
How did you get involved with NRMN?
I joined approximately 5 years ago as mentee, following the recommendation of the BRAINS program (Broadening the Representation of Academic Investigators in NeuroScience)
Which of NRMN’s program(s) have you participated in?
I have participated in MyMentor and also in some NRMN Career Development Webinars
Describe your role in NRMN and tell us a little about your experience in that role.
I first joined as mentee, and now I’m listed as mentor in neuroscience and psychology
If someone called you and asked, “Why should I become involved with NRMN?” how would you respond?
It’s a great program to get access to excellent mentors, many of them are from underrepresented groups and have very similar academic trajectories to yours, which makes mentoring even more relevant. Also having access to mentors from outside your institution/state, gives you a very unique and neutral insight into your career development. The program also offers access to rich career development opportunities
Describe a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
One of the most significant accomplishments in my career has been to establish my independent research program at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. I’m originally from Colombia and moved to Boston for Grad School. Since I moved to the US, I’ve always dreamt of bringing together the work we were doing locally in Colombia with the research being conducted in the US. I’ve been doing exactly that since I became faculty at Mass General five years ago. I received an NIH Office of the Director’s Early Independence Award that allowed me to launch the COLBOS (Colombia-Boston) Biomarker Study in Autosomal Dominant Alzheimer’s Disease. As part of COLBOS, members of Colombian families with Alzheimer’s disease are coming to Boston for advanced neuroimaging and biomarker examinations. Our work has already made significant contributions to the field of Alzheimer’s disease, including the recent description of a genetic mutation (APOE3 Christchurch) that may delay cognitive decline and dementia in individuals at high risk.
What motivates you (daily and/or long-term)?
Professionally, my patients. Alzheimer’s disease is a terrible disease, with no cure or effective ways to stop it.I’ve committed my career life to contribute to find ways to prevent or delay this disease, so it does not have to reach future generations. Personally, my main motivations are my children and my husband.
Each morning, what do you look most forward to in the day?
I look forward to spending some quality time with my children, and to having great conversations with the early-career scientists in my lab about their current and future projects.
What is your current position and what is your favorite aspect of it?
I’m Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. I’m the Director of the Familial Dementia Neuroimaging Lab and the Multicultural Alzheimer’s Prevention Program (MAPP). I enjoy every single aspect of my work from the topics we conduct research on to the people I get to work with every day. I also love having a lab full of diverse and multilingual members! We have members from different academic disciplines and also from different cultures. It’s really a pleasure to work and learn from the team and get to see them grow.
Anything else that you would like to share?
I’m where I am now because the support I’ve received from amazing mentors. It’s never too early in your career to get yourself a good mentor. I think it’s even better if you get multiple mentors. Having more than one mentor will definitely give you more room to grow. Finally, once you are in the position to mentor others in academia, please remember to pay it forward.