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Ryan O'Dell, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry; NRTP, Yale Department of Psychiatry

Biography

My passion for the pursuit of knowledge and scientific research has been a consistent and deep-rooted journey. As an undergraduate at the University of Rochester my scientific inquires took shape as a four-year research project in which I investigated how the primate brain coordinates complex muscle sets to achieve delicate hand and finger movements. As an MD/PhD candidate at SUNY Upstate, I used multiphoton live imaging techniques in an ex utero explant mouse model, investigating the role of the extracellular matrix protein Reelin in the dynamic properties of the emerging neurite arbor in early cortical development.

As a current PGY4 in the Yale Neuroscience Research Training Program, it is my ultimate goal to pursue a fellowship and eventual career in Geriatric Psychiatry, with a focus on Alzheimer’s disease and related neurocognitive disorders. Although it was my passion for the science that initially captivated me, it was not until I spent time in a Neurocognitive Clinic as a medical student and first sat with patients and their loved ones as they learned of this life-altering diagnosis, that I came to appreciate how the bench connects to the bedside.

To that end, throughout my time in the NRTP I have been working with Christopher van Dyck, MD and Adam Mecca, MD/PhD at the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Unit (ADRU), a clinical research unit specializing in Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive disorders, and aging research. Under this dual mentorship I have subsequently accumulated the technical tools, skills, and knowledge base necessary to collect, analyze, and interpret data gathered from the variety of ongoing multimodal neuroimaging studies (PET, MRI, fMRI) and clinical trials at the ADRU. Generally, I am interested in the investigation of novel neuroimaging biomarkers across the continuum of Alzheimer’s disease, spanning the preclinical to clinical stages of dementia. Such studies are essential for not only a more comprehensive understanding of disease pathogenesis and progression, but for the development of novel neuroimaging biomarkers for earlier diagnosis and intervention, tracking of disease progression, and monitoring of therapeutic efficacy in treatment studies.

I am currently involved in a variety of ongoing cross-sectional and longitudinal studies in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease using a promising PET biomarker of synaptic density, [11C]UCB-J, which binds synaptic vesicle glycoprotein 2 (SV2A). Our goals include not only characterizing the spatiotemporal distribution of synaptic alterations across the continuum of disease (including preclinical, i.e. cognitively unimpaired but biomarker positive, cohorts), but determining the relationship of said synaptic alterations with other neuroimaging markers of disease progression, including amyloid/tau accumulation and glucose hypometabolism, respectively assessed by [11C]PiB, [18F]MK6240, and [18F]FDG PET.

My long-term career goals include becoming not only a competent and compassionate practicing Geriatric Psychiatrist, but an independently funded investigator in the fields of Alzheimer’s disease molecular neuroimaging and clinical trial design. In my free time I enjoy hiking the Connecticut trail systems and exploring the myriad craft breweries our state has to offer.

Education & Training

  • MD
    SUNY Upstate Medical University (2017)
  • PhD
    SUNY Upstate Medical University (2017)
  • BS
    University of Rochester, Neuroscience (2007)
  • BA
    University of Rochester, Department of Modern Languages and Cultures/Spanish (2007)

Departments & Organizations