Faculty Spotlight: Associate Professor Whitney Wharton, PhD

Woodruff Health Sciences Center | Aug. 30, 2019

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Dr. Wharton is a cognitive neuroscientist specializing in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and related disorders. She received her BA at the University of Texas at Austin and went on to complete her doctoral training at The George Washington University in Washington DC. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Her research focuses on the influence of vascular risk factors on Alzheimer’s biomarkers in individuals who are at risk for the disease due a parental history.  She conducts both observational and clinical trials that investigate the extent to which blood pressure and blood pressure medications act on brain systems known to be involved in AD neuropathology.

Briefly, tell us about a research project you’re working on...

My lab is investigating Alzheimer's prevention in individuals most at risk, including African Americans, women, caregivers, and the LGBTQ community. We collect biological markers (in blood and spinal fluid) before and after interventions (dance, exercise, blood pressure medications), and try to determine if our interventions are able to influence the proteins and vascular measures that lead to Alzheimer's disease.

What is one thing you hope your work can offer humanity by the end of your career?

I would love to improve clinical research participation among African Americans, women, and the LGBTQ community. Most clinical research to date has been conducted on older White men, and we need to make clinical research, both participants and scientists conducting the research more representative, to ensure that treatment and preventative strategies are applicable to all communities, especially those who are most at risk for disease.

If you could go back in time and offer yourself some advice early in your career, what would you say?

Ask more questions and speak up, no matter the situation. Speak up in meetings, voice your opinion, contact the speaker whose talk you really enjoyed. Being visible is important and proactive engagement with people whom you admire or can learn from is important.

What do you enjoy most about being at Emory Nursing?

I recently moved to Emory Nursing from another School. My team and I could not be happier. We love the open exchange of ideas and the integration of students, staff and faculty at all levels, in all aspects of teaching and research projects.