We are pleased to announce that Victor Villemagne, MD, has joined the faculty as Professor of Psychiatry, and Tharick Pascoal, MD, PhD, has been appointed Assistant Professor of Psychiatry. Dr. Villemagne and Dr. Pascoal are widely recognized experts in Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers and will greatly enhance our innovative research program in this area. 

Dr. Villemagne brings to Pitt a wealth of experience and expertise. He is extremely accomplished in in-vivo imaging of brain pathology in aging and neurodegenerative disorders—particularly Alzheimer’s disease—using techniques such as PET and biofluids to develop and evaluate disease-specific biomarkers. Among Dr. Villemagne’s notable research findings, he established that the process of amyloid β accumulation in the brain can be detected by PET imaging 15–20 years before the onset of dementia. This discovery has substantially impacted the diagnostic paradigm of Alzheimer’s disease, and is incorporated into current research and clinical trials worldwide. 

As Professor of Psychiatry, Dr. Villemagne will co-direct, with Ann Cohen, PhD (Associate Professor of Psychiatry), PET-Imaging in Psychiatric Research, a new Department research initiative. Before joining the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Villemagne held faculty positions at the School of Medical and Health Sciences at Edith Cowan University, and at the Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne at Austin Health in Australia. He also served as a senior research fellow in the Department of Molecular Imaging & Therapy at Austin Health. 

Dr. Pascoal received his MD from the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil and his PhD in neuroscience from the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University in Canada. He remained at McGill for postdoctoral training in neurodegenerative diseases at McGill Center for Studies in Aging, and in neuroimaging at Douglas Hospital. As Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Dr. Pascoal’s research program will focus on the development and validation of biomarkers capable of identifying pathological processes in the human brain, with the goal of developing therapeutic targets for neurodegenerative diseases. 

William Klunk, MD, PhD (Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology and Levidow-Pittsburgh Foundation Chair in Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Disorders) elaborated on how Dr. Villemagne and Dr. Pascoal will contribute to Pitt Psychiatry’s ongoing leadership in this research field: “Dr. Villemagne is world-renowned, senior researcher known for his work on amyloid imaging in normal aging and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as for comparison of multiple PET tracers for tau deposition in normal aging and Alzheimer’s disease. He is also interested in bringing to Pittsburgh new PET tracers related to Alzheimer’s, as well as to other neuropsychiatric conditions,” he said. “And Dr. Pascoal is one of the most promising new Alzheimer’s disease biomarker researchers. He focuses on the emerging possibilities of adding novel blood biomarkers to the established PET biomarkers for normal aging and Alzheimer’s disease. Like Dr. Villemagne’s work, these blood-based biomarkers could transcend Alzheimer’s into other neuropsychiatric conditions. Both are energetic and collaborative scientists who will substantially add to our already strong Alzheimer’s disease biomarker program.”

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Villemagne and Dr. Pascoal!