The Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute at the University of Alabama at Birmingham

More than 55 faculty members spanning more than 15 academic departments

200+ peer reviewed publications in high impact journals annually

Collaboration with institutes, centers, departments and programs across the UAB campus and with the other three MBIs

The Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute (EMBI) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) was established in 2004 by a gift from the McKnight Brain Research Foundation to support research in cognitive aging and age related memory loss, excluding Alzheimer’s Disease. The Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute at UAB brings together scholars and researchers working in the forefront of basic, translational and clinical neuroscience, with the overarching goals of discovering new biological principles in pre-clinical models and bringing them to bear on human cognitive concerns.

Utilizing state of the art laboratory facilities, brain imaging modalities, and clinical settings, the UAB EMBI faculty and students explore the mechanisms that underlie human and nonhuman cognitive neuroscience in an effort to develop new interventions for creating cognitive resilience as we age.

Institute Leadership

Ronald M. Lazar, Ph.D., FAHA, FAAN

Director, Dr. Ronald M. Lazar, is a graduate of New York University with a prize in Psychology and a PhD graduate in Psychology from Northeastern University. Dr. Lazar started at UAB in June of 2017, as the Evelyn F. McKnight Endowed Chair in the department of Neurology, Director of the UAB McKnight Brain Institute, and Director of the Neuropsychology division. Since beginning his tenure with UAB, Dr. Lazar has worked to fulfill his vision of establishing new relationships with patient- oriented departments and clinical faculty to build upon the already-existing strengths in basic and translational neuroscience at UAB. He has expanded the total faculty membership from 30 to 55 investigators, spanning more than 15 departments.

Read full bio on the UAB website

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Erik Roberson, M.D., Ph.D.

Associate Director, Dr. Erik Roberson, is a neurologist and neuroscientist whose research is focused on age-related cognitive impairment. He received his A.B. with highest honors from Princeton University and earned his M.D. and Ph.D in neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine where he studied molecular mechanisms of learning and memory. 

A member of the UAB faculty since 2008, Dr. Roberson leads a lab along with Dr. Andrew West. The lab is part of the UAB Center for Neurodegeneration and Experimental Therapeutics (CNET). In the lab, Dr. Roberson and colleagues study the neurobiology of Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia (FTD), using mouse models to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms of these disorders and identify new therapeutic strategies, with a particular focus on tau and progranulin.

Dr. Roberson also directs the UAB Alzheimer’s Disease Center, leads clinical trials, and cares for patients with memory disorders and dementia at the Kirklin Clinic.

Read full bio on the UAB website

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Specialized Research


Cognitive Aging Research

Research at the UAB Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute involves an interdisciplinary collaboration across departments and programs at the University of Alabama Birmingham, targeted at mitigating age-related cognitive decline.

Center for Translational Research on Aging and Mobility

The Center for Translational Research on Aging and Mobility is a multisite study measuring cognitive testing and brain MRIs.

Clinical and Population Based Research

Focused on healthy aging adults, adults with age-related memory and cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, stroke and other cerebrovascular conditions, among others. Areas of research include: cognitive resilience and recovery in aging; age-related cognitive function; quality of life for the aging through research, education and clinical care; functional activity, decisional capacity, and cognition in persons with cognitive impairment and more.

McKnight Brain Aging Registry

The MBAR study is well underway with the tremendous investment in organization across sites to harmonize data acquisition of neuropsychological data, computerized behavioral data of several types, tissue of several types from blood draws, and seven different kinds of MRI data. The result to date is harmonized data collected from four different sites that has undergone quality control and is similar enough to be compared across sites. Study recruitment and data acquisition are in progress.

Learn more about the Institute

Explore research focus areas, partners, news, and educational outreach on the University of Alabama at Birmingham's McKnight Brain Institute website.

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The McKnight Brain Institutes

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University of Alabama at Birmingham

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University of Arizona

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University of Florida

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University of Miami

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