Willa Brenowitz, PhD, MPH

Title(s)Assistant Professor, Psychiatry
SchoolSchool of Medicine
Address675 18th Street
San Francisco CA 94107
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    Cornell UniversityBABiology and Society
    University of WashingtonMPHHealth Services
    University of WashingtonPhDEpidemiology
    University of California, San FranciscoPostdoctoral Epidemiology of Aging/Chronic Disease
    University of California, San Francisco Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Champion Training

    Collapse Overview 
    Collapse Overview
    I am an epidemiologist and am broadly interested in understanding factors that contribute to brain aging. I am especially interested in the role of multimorbidity in cognitive decline, as well as the intersection of genetic, psychosocial, and health factors across the lifecourse. I am also interested in using novel statistical and epidemiologic approaches to study AD and other chronic diseases in aging.

    Much of my current research focuses on the relationship between sensory impairments (e.g. hearing and vision loss) and dementia in older adults. Sensory health is underappreciated but an emerging area of research importance, sensory impairments are potential risk factors for dementia, and sensory and cognitive function are closely linked biologically. There is a need for understanding the impact of sensory impairments and the link with dementia in diverse aging populations.

    I use both traditional epidemiologic approaches as well as alternative approaches to enhance causal inference. I am especially interested in quasi experimental designs and instrumental variable analysis including Mendelian randomization. Such alternative study design offer opportunities to better understand early AD etiology and tease apart mechanisms that may contribute or be a marker of AD and brain aging.

    I welcome student involvement and am interested in training the next generation of researchers, please feel free to contact me to discuss further.

    Collapse Research 
    Collapse Research Activities and Funding
    Sensory Impairments, Cognitive Decline, and Dementia: What Explains the Association?
    NIH K01AG062722Sep 1, 2019 - Apr 30, 2024
    Role: Principal Investigator

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    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Researchers can login to make corrections and additions, or contact us for help. to make corrections and additions.
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    Altmetrics Details PMC Citations indicate the number of times the publication was cited by articles in PubMed Central, and the Altmetric score represents citations in news articles and social media. (Note that publications are often cited in additional ways that are not shown here.) Fields are based on how the National Library of Medicine (NLM) classifies the publication's journal and might not represent the specific topic of the publication. Translation tags are based on the publication type and the MeSH terms NLM assigns to the publication. Some publications (especially newer ones and publications not in PubMed) might not yet be assigned Field or Translation tags.) Click a Field or Translation tag to filter the publications.
    1. Associations Between Handgrip Strength and Dementia Risk, Cognition, and Neuroimaging Outcomes in the UK Biobank Cohort Study. JAMA Netw Open. 2022 06 01; 5(6):e2218314. Duchowny KA, Ackley SF, Brenowitz WD, Wang J, Zimmerman SC, Caunca MR, Glymour MM. PMID: 35737388; PMCID: PMC9227006.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:    Fields:    Translation:Humans
    2. Examining the Combined Estimated Effects of Hearing Loss and Depressive Symptoms on Risk of Cognitive Decline and Incident Dementia. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2022 05 05; 77(5):839-849. Powell DS, Brenowitz WD, Yaffe K, Armstrong NM, Reed NS, Lin FR, Gross AL, Deal JA. PMID: 34655295; PMCID: PMC9071460.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:    Fields:    Translation:Humans
    3. Association of Genetic Variants Linked to Late-Onset Alzheimer Disease With Cognitive Test Performance by Midlife. JAMA Netw Open. 2022 04 01; 5(4):e225491. Zimmerman SC, Brenowitz WD, Calmasini C, Ackley SF, Graff RE, Asiimwe SB, Staffaroni AM, Hoffmann TJ, Glymour MM. PMID: 35377426; PMCID: PMC8980909.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:    Fields:    Translation:Humans
    4. Associations of dual sensory impairment with incident mobility and ADL difficulty. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2022 07; 70(7):1997-2007. Armstrong NM, Vieira Ligo Teixeira C, Gendron C, Brenowitz WD, Lin FR, Swenor B, Deal JA, Simonsick EM, Jones RN. PMID: 35343588; PMCID: PMC9283239.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:    Fields:    Translation:Humans
    5. Associations of Lower Extremity Peripheral Nerve Impairment and Risk of Dementia in Black and White Older Adults. Neurology. 2022 05 03; 98(18):e1837-e1845. Brenowitz WD, Robbins NM, Strotmeyer ES, Yaffe K. PMID: 35264428; PMCID: PMC9109146.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 1     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    6. Personal history of breast cancer, cognitive function, and conversion in women from the ADNI cohort. Alzheimer's & Dementia. 2021 Dec 31; 17(S6). Eastman EJ, Yaffe YK, Kerlikowske KK, Brenowitz BW, Kornblith KE, Inslicht IS. .
      View in: Publisher Site   Mentions:
    7. Does inflammation explain the link between multiple sensory impairment and dementia?. Alzheimer's & Dementia. 2021 Dec 31; 17(S10). Brenowitz BW, Eastman EJ, Leng LY, Yaffe YK. .
      View in: Publisher Site   Mentions:
    8. Care Recipient Diagnosis Moderates the Relationship Between Caregiver Worry and Vigilance. Innovation in Aging. 2021 Dec 17; 5(Suppl 1):971-971. Armstrong AN, Teixeira TC, Brenowitz BW, Swenor SB, Powell PD, Simonsick SE, Jones JR, Gendron GC. .
      View in: Publisher Site   Mentions:
    9. Invited Commentary: Body Mass Index and Risk of Dementia-Potential Explanations for Life-Course Differences in Risk Estimates and Future Research Directions. Am J Epidemiol. 2021 12 01; 190(12):2511-2514. Brenowitz WD. PMID: 33831175; PMCID: PMC8796800.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 1     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    10. Assessing bidirectional associations between cognitive impairment and late age-related macular degeneration in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2. Alzheimers Dement. 2022 07; 18(7):1296-1305. Le JT, Agrón E, Keenan TDL, Clemons TE, Brenowitz WD, Yaffe K, Chew EY, AREDS2 Research Group. PMID: 34758100; PMCID: PMC9085971.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:    Fields:    Translation:Humans
    11. Extension of Mendelian Randomization to Identify Earliest Manifestations of Alzheimer Disease: Association of Genetic Risk Score for Alzheimer Disease With Lower Body Mass Index by Age 50 Years. Am J Epidemiol. 2021 10 01; 190(10):2163-2171. Brenowitz WD, Zimmerman SC, Filshtein TJ, Yaffe K, Walter S, Hoffmann TJ, Jorgenson E, Whitmer RA, Whitmer RA, Glymour MM. PMID: 33843952; PMCID: PMC8576370.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 4     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    12. Current Alzheimer disease research highlights: evidence for novel risk factors. Chin Med J (Engl). 2021 Sep 09; 134(18):2150-2159. Brenowitz WD, Xiang Y, McEvoy CT, Yang C, Yaffe K, Le WD, Leng Y. PMID: 34507318; PMCID: PMC8478399.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 2     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    13. The Association Between Cancer and Spousal Rate of Memory Decline: A Negative Control Study to Evaluate (Unmeasured) Social Confounding of the Cancer-memory Relationship. Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. 2021 Jul-Sep 01; 35(3):271-274. Ospina-Romero M, Brenowitz WD, Glymour MM, Mayeda ER, Graff RE, Witte JS, Ackley SF, Lu KP, Kobayashi LC. PMID: 32568784; PMCID: PMC7749066.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:    Fields:    Translation:Humans
    14. Methods to Address Self-Selection and Reverse Causation in Studies of Neighborhood Environments and Brain Health. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 06 16; 18(12). Besser LM, Brenowitz WD, Meyer OL, Hoermann S, Renne J. PMID: 34208454; PMCID: PMC8296350.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 1     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    15. Amyloid-PET imaging offers small improvements in predictions of future cognitive trajectories. Neuroimage Clin. 2021; 31:102713. Ackley SF, Hayes-Larson E, Brenowitz WD, Swinnerton K, Mungas D, Fletcher E, Singh B, Whitmer RA, Whitmer RA, DeCarli C, Maria Glymour M. PMID: 34153689; PMCID: PMC8233225.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:    Fields:    Translation:Humans
    16. Does Hearing Impairment Affect Physical Function?: Current Evidence, Potential Mechanisms, and Future Research Directions for Healthy Aging. JAMA Netw Open. 2021 06 01; 4(6):e2114782. Brenowitz WD, Wallhagen MI. PMID: 34170308.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:    Fields:    Translation:Humans
    17. The Bidirectional Relationship between Vision and Cognition: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Ophthalmology. 2021 07; 128(7):981-992. Vu TA, Fenwick EK, Gan ATL, Man REK, Tan BKJ, Gupta P, Ho KC, Reyes-Ortiz CA, Trompet S, Gussekloo J, O'Brien JM, Mueller-Schotte S, Wong TY, Tham YC, Cheng CY, Lee ATC, Rait G, Swenor BK, Varadaraj V, Brenowitz WD, Medeiros FA, Naël V, Narasimhalu K, Chen CLH, Lamoureux EL. PMID: 33333104.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 9     Fields:    Translation:HumansPHPublic Health
    18. Effect of reductions in amyloid levels on cognitive change in randomized trials: instrumental variable meta-analysis. BMJ. 2021 02 25; 372:n156. Ackley SF, Zimmerman SC, Brenowitz WD, Tchetgen Tchetgen EJ, Gold AL, Manly JJ, Mayeda ER, Filshtein TJ, Power MC, Elahi FM, Brickman AM, Glymour MM. PMID: 33632704; PMCID: PMC7905687.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 26     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    19. Depressive Symptoms Imputed Across the Life Course Are Associated with Cognitive Impairment and Cognitive Decline. J Alzheimers Dis. 2021; 83(3):1379-1389. Brenowitz WD, Zeki Al Hazzouri A, Vittinghoff E, Golden SH, Fitzpatrick AL, Yaffe K. PMID: 34420969; PMCID: PMC9095065.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 1     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    20. Association Between Alzheimer Disease and Cancer With Evaluation of Study Biases: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Netw Open. 2020 11 02; 3(11):e2025515. Ospina-Romero M, Glymour MM, Hayes-Larson E, Mayeda ER, Graff RE, Brenowitz WD, Ackley SF, Witte JS, Kobayashi LC. PMID: 33185677; PMCID: PMC7666424.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 15     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    21. Apathy and risk of probable incident dementia among community-dwelling older adults. Neurology. 2020 12 15; 95(24):e3280-e3287. Bock MA, Bahorik A, Brenowitz WD, Yaffe K. PMID: 33055276; PMCID: PMC7836653.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 6     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    22. Genetic Risk of Alzheimer's Disease and Sleep Duration in Non-Demented Elders. Ann Neurol. 2021 01; 89(1):177-181. Leng Y, Ackley SF, Glymour MM, Yaffe K, Brenowitz WD. PMID: 32951248; PMCID: PMC8048405.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 7     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    23. Association of genetic risk for Alzheimer disease and hearing impairment. Neurology. 2020 10 20; 95(16):e2225-e2234. Brenowitz WD, Filshtein TJ, Yaffe K, Walter S, Ackley SF, Hoffmann TJ, Jorgenson E, Whitmer RA, Whitmer RA, Glymour MM. PMID: 32878991; PMCID: PMC7713783.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 9     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    24. Clinician-judged hearing impairment and associations with neuropathologic burden. Neurology. 2020 09 22; 95(12):e1640-e1649. Brenowitz WD, Besser LM, Kukull WA, Keene CD, Glymour MM, Yaffe K. PMID: 32759190; PMCID: PMC7713726.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 5     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    25. Incident dementia and faster rates of cognitive decline are associated with worse multisensory function summary scores. Alzheimers Dement. 2020 10; 16(10):1384-1392. Brenowitz WD, Kaup AR, Yaffe K. PMID: 32657033; PMCID: PMC7901640.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 3     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    26. Dual sensory impairment in older adults and risk of dementia from the GEM Study. Alzheimers Dement (Amst). 2020; 12(1):e12054. Hwang PH, Longstreth WT, Brenowitz WD, Thielke SM, Lopez OL, Francis CE, DeKosky ST, Fitzpatrick AL. PMID: 32671180; PMCID: PMC7340796.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 10  
    27. Difficulty and help with activities of daily living among older adults living alone with cognitive impairment. Alzheimers Dement. 2020 08; 16(8):1125-1133. Edwards RD, Brenowitz WD, Portacolone E, Covinsky KE, Bindman A, Glymour MM, Torres JM. PMID: 32588985; PMCID: PMC7416441.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 6     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    28. State School Policies as Predictors of Physical and Mental Health: A Natural Experiment in the REGARDS Cohort. Am J Epidemiol. 2020 05 05; 189(5):384-393. Brenowitz WD, Manly JJ, Murchland AR, Nguyen TT, Liu SY, Glymour MM, Levine DA, Crowe M, Hohman TJ, Dufouil C, Launer LJ, Hedden T, Eng CW, Wadley VG, Howard VJ. PMID: 31595946; PMCID: PMC7306678.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 2     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    29. Concordance of Clinical Alzheimer Diagnosis and Neuropathological Features at Autopsy. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2020 05 01; 79(5):465-473. Gauthreaux K, Bonnett TA, Besser LM, Brenowitz WD, Teylan M, Mock C, Chen YC, Chan KCG, Keene CD, Zhou XH, Kukull WA. PMID: 32186726; PMCID: PMC7160616.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 3     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    30. Intention to Screen for Alzheimer's Disease by Residential Locale. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 03 27; 17(7). Besser LM, Brenowitz WD, Park J, Tolea MI, Galvin JE. PMID: 32230914; PMCID: PMC7178144.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 1     Fields:    Translation:HumansPHPublic Health
    31. Estimating associations between antidepressant use and incident mild cognitive impairment in older adults with depression. PLoS One. 2020; 15(1):e0227924. Han F, Bonnett T, Brenowitz WD, Teylan MA, Besser LM, Chen YC, Chan G, Cao KG, Gao Y, Zhou XH. PMID: 31951629; PMCID: PMC6968868.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 1     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    32. Life course biopsychosocial effects of retrospective childhood social support and later-life cognition. Psychol Aging. 2019 Nov; 34(7):867-883. Zahodne LB, Sharifian N, Manly JJ, Sumner JA, Crowe M, Wadley VG, Howard VJ, Murchland AR, Brenowitz WD, Weuve J. PMID: 31566397; PMCID: PMC6829036.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 3     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    33. Reserve and Alzheimer's disease genetic risk: Effects on hospitalization and mortality. Alzheimers Dement. 2019 07; 15(7):907-916. Filshtein TJ, Brenowitz WD, Mayeda ER, Hohman TJ, Walter S, Jones RN, Elahi FM, Glymour MM. PMID: 31327391; PMCID: PMC7049165.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 6     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    34. Rate of Memory Change Before and After Cancer Diagnosis. JAMA Netw Open. 2019 06 05; 2(6):e196160. Ospina-Romero M, Abdiwahab E, Kobayashi L, Filshtein T, Brenowitz WD, Mayeda ER, Glymour MM. PMID: 31225893; PMCID: PMC6593639.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 14     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    35. Multiple Sensory Impairment Is Associated With Increased Risk of Dementia Among Black and White Older Adults. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2019 05 16; 74(6):890-896. Brenowitz WD, Kaup AR, Lin FR, Yaffe K. PMID: 30452551; PMCID: PMC6521912.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 30     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    36. Treated hypothyroidism is associated with cerebrovascular disease but not Alzheimer's disease pathology in older adults. Neurobiol Aging. 2018 02; 62:64-71. Brenowitz WD, Han F, Kukull WA, Nelson PT. PMID: 29107848; PMCID: PMC5743774.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 10     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    37. Mixed neuropathologies and associations with domain-specific cognitive decline. Neurology. 2017 Oct 24; 89(17):1773-1781. Brenowitz WD, Hubbard RA, Keene CD, Hawes SE, Longstreth WT, Woltjer RL, Kukull WA. PMID: 28939667; PMCID: PMC5664309.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 8     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    38. Alzheimer's disease neuropathologic change, Lewy body disease, and vascular brain injury in clinic- and community-based samples. Neurobiol Aging. 2017 May; 53:83-92. Brenowitz WD, Keene CD, Hawes SE, Hubbard RA, Longstreth WT, Woltjer RL, Crane PK, Larson EB, Kukull WA. PMID: 28236716; PMCID: PMC5385292.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 25     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    39. Mixed neuropathologies and estimated rates of clinical progression in a large autopsy sample. Alzheimers Dement. 2017 Jun; 13(6):654-662. Brenowitz WD, Hubbard RA, Keene CD, Hawes SE, Longstreth WT, Woltjer RL, Kukull WA. PMID: 27870939; PMCID: PMC5438283.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 30     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    40. Cerebral amyloid angiopathy and its co-occurrence with Alzheimer's disease and other cerebrovascular neuropathologic changes. Neurobiol Aging. 2015 Oct; 36(10):2702-8. Brenowitz WD, Nelson PT, Besser LM, Heller KB, Kukull WA. PMID: 26239176; PMCID: PMC4562901.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 36     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    41. Longitudinal associations between self-rated health and performance-based physical function in a population-based cohort of older adults. PLoS One. 2014; 9(11):e111761. Brenowitz WD, Hubbard RA, Crane PK, Gray SL, Zaslavsky O, Larson EB. PMID: 25365288; PMCID: PMC4218810.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 17     Fields:    Translation:HumansCTClinical Trials
    42. Social relationships and risk of incident mild cognitive impairment in U.S. Alzheimer's disease centers. Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. 2014 Jul-Sep; 28(3):253-60. Brenowitz WD, Kukull WA, Beresford SA, Monsell SE, Williams EC. PMID: 24577205; PMCID: PMC4139444.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 8     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    43. Body mass index, weight change, and clinical progression in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer disease. Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. 2014 Jan-Mar; 28(1):36-43. Besser LM, Gill DP, Monsell SE, Brenowitz W, Meranus DH, Kukull W, Gustafson DR. PMID: 24126214; PMCID: PMC3945175.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 64     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    44. Hippocampal sclerosis of aging is a key Alzheimer's disease mimic: clinical-pathologic correlations and comparisons with both alzheimer's disease and non-tauopathic frontotemporal lobar degeneration. J Alzheimers Dis. 2014; 39(3):691-702. Brenowitz WD, Monsell SE, Schmitt FA, Kukull WA, Nelson PT. PMID: 24270205; PMCID: PMC3946156.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 50     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    45. Arteriolosclerosis that affects multiple brain regions is linked to hippocampal sclerosis of ageing. Brain. 2014 Jan; 137(Pt 1):255-67. Neltner JH, Abner EL, Baker S, Schmitt FA, Kryscio RJ, Jicha GA, Smith CD, Hammack E, Kukull WA, Brenowitz WD, Van Eldik LJ, Nelson PT. PMID: 24271328; PMCID: PMC3891448.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 62     Fields:    Translation:Humans
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