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Dr. Nikolaos Scarmeas

Associate Professor of Clinical Neurology

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.


National Hellenic Society Honors Behrakis, Aniston, Antholis During Heritage Weekend
Greek American News

October 17, 2016

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

September 01, 2015

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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Self-Reported Sleep Disordered Breathing as Risk Factor for Mortality in the Elderly
Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases

2016This 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

2015To 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

2015In 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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Area of Expertise

Cognitive Reserve

Cognitive Reserve Factors with Cognition - Dementia

Diet and Cognition

Diet and Cognition - Dementia

Lifestyle Social Intellectual Activities and Cognition - Dementia

Mechanims Relating to Nutrition


Physical Activities Exercise and Cognition - Dementia


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




Health and Wellness

Health Care - Services


Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health : Clinical Research

Ethnikon kai Kapodistriakon Panepistimion Athinon / University of Athens : Medicine

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