Course Title: Symposium 4 - Symposium Honoring the Legacy of Nelson Butters (Butters)

Credit Hours: 0

Instructor(s) Meryl Butters; James Becker; Mark W. Bondi; Margaret O'Connor; Marlene Oscar Berman; David Salmon; Edith V. Sullivan, Mieke Verfaellie

Chair: Meryl Butters, PhD
Professor of Psychiatry and Clinical and Translational Science
University of Pittsburgh

Invited Symposium 4:

Symposium Honoring the Legacy of Nelson Butters


Nelson Butters, otherwise known as the Godfather of Neuropsychology, died 25 years ago at the age of 58, from ALS. This 90-minute symposium will honor his Legacy with presentations in three major areas of neuropsychological research, memory, alcohol use disorders, and dementia, making clear the connections between his ground-breaking work and modern cutting-edge studies that continue to expand our knowledge in these areas. In addition to his legacy evident in current day neuropsychological research, the influence of Nelson’s studies on evolving assumptions neuropsychologists make in everyday clinical practice will also be highlighted. Following these presentations, there will be a panel discussion and Q & A with the audience.

Chair Biography:

Dr. Meryl Butters is an internationally recognized expert in geriatric mental health. Through her exploration of the interface of depression and cognitive decline, she has contributed important new insights related to our understanding of dementia symptoms in the elderly. Dr. Butters is the principal investigator of a National Institute of Mental Health-funded R01 grant focused on using advanced neurocognitive, neuroimaging and molecular approaches to determine if people with treatment-resistant late-life depression experience accelerated cognitive decline that could increase risk for dementia. Dr. Butters is also an enthusiastic research collaborator, serving as co-Investigator on numerous federally funded projects both within the Department of Psychiatry and in other departments at the University of Pittsburgh.

Additionally, Dr. Butters is an outstanding educator. She developed the Neuropsychology Training Clinic at UPMC’s Benedum Geriatric Center, and she has served as its director since 2014. She has supervised many medical and doctoral students, as well as T32- or K23-funded researchers, several of whom are now Pitt Psychiatry faculty. In 2019, she received the Philip Troen, MD, Excellence in Medical Student Research Mentoring Award from the Pitt School of Medicine. Nationally and internationally, Dr. Butters is recognized as an expert in the field of neuropsychology. She was president of the International College of Geriatric Psychoneuropharmacology from 2017–2019 and has served as a grant reviewer at national and international organizations such as NIMH Special Emphasis Panels and the Department of Veterans Affairs (US), as well as the Medical Research Council (UK) and several foundations in the US and abroad.

James Becker, PhD
Dr. James Becker received his undergraduate education at Washington and Lee University, and his graduate education and Northeastern University and the Johns Hopkins University. He completed post-doctoral training with Dr. Nelson Butters at the Boston VAMC and the University of Connecticut Alcohol Research Center. He joined the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh in 1984, and is now a Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology and Psychology. He is the author of more than 300 peer-reviewed research papers and is currently completing large studies of brain integrity in HIV Disease and aging and dementia.
Mark W. Bondi, PhD, ABPP-CN
Dr. Mark W. Bondi is a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California San Diego and Director of Neuropsychological Assessment Unit at the VA San Diego Healthcare System. He received his doctorate from the University of Arizona in 1991 and worked with the late Dr. Nelson Butters as a Psychology Intern in 1990-91 and as an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow at UCSD from 1991-93. Dr. Bondi is Board Certified in Clinical Neuropsychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology and is a Fellow of both the American Psychological Association (Division 40) and the National Academy of Neuropsychology. He has served on the boards of the American Psychological Association’s Continuing Education Committee and Commission for the Recognition of Specialties and Proficiencies in Professional Psychology, board of directors of the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology, board of governors of the International Neuropsychological Society, and is former president of the Society for Clinical Neuropsychology (Division 40). Dr. Bondi is a former recipient of the INS Rennick Award and Early Career Awards from NAN and Division 40 and has served as mentor to four prior recipients of the INS Nelson Butters Award. He has received continuous funding from NIH, VA, and private foundation grants since 1991, and he is a sponsor or co-sponsor of 20 NIH, NSF, VA and private foundation career development awards of his current and former trainees. His research interests center on the cognitive and brain changes of individuals at risk for dementia, work he began with Dr. Butters about 30 years ago. Dr. Bondi has published over 230 articles and book chapters, and he is co-author of the book Mild Cognitive Impairment and Dementia: Definitions, Diagnosis and Treatment. He has served on the editorial boards of several neuropsychology journals (e.g., JCEN, JINS, Neuropsychology, TCN), as an Associate Editor of JINS, and currently is a Senior Editor for the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. In addition to his research in aging and dementia, he is an active clinician, teacher and supervisor for his institution’s doctoral training, internship, and postdoctoral fellowship programs.
Margaret O’Connor, PhD
Dr. Margaret O’Connor is President of the International Neuropsychological Society. Dr. O’Connor is Associate Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School which entails clinical, teaching and research activities. Dr. O’Connor has mentored the clinical and research activities of over 100 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. She has authored over 70 papers in peer reviewed journals and 30 book chapters. Her work has involved studies of amnesia and long term forgetting with a focus on understanding neural and physiological substrates of memory. She co-founded DriveWise, a driving assessment program that provided services for over 1000 individuals. In addition to research on the prediction of driving safety she developed educational videos to assist professionals and caregivers in making decisions about driving for people with dementia as well as those with developmental disabilities. Dr. O’Connor has had diplomate status in the field of clinical neuropsychology since 1999 and she is a board examiner for the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology. Dr. O’Connor is actively involved in public education efforts to advance research and clinical support for people with cognitive impairments. She was Co-Chair of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee of the Alzheimer’s Association of Massachusetts and New Hampshire and remains on the board of this organization. Her committee work also includes the Clinical Advisory Committee of the Asperger/Autism Network.
Marlene Oscar Berman, PhD
Dr. Marlene Oscar Berman is Professor Emeritus at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), and a career research scientist in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Healthcare System in Boston. Dr. Berman received her doctorate in psychology from the University of Connecticut. She has a Master's degree in psychology from Bryn Mawr College and an undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. She was a postdoctoral fellow in Neuroscience at Harvard University, and she has taught at Harvard, Clark University, Tufts University School of Medicine, Suffolk University, and the University of Melbourne in Australia. Her permanent teaching and research homes since 1970 have been Boston University School of Medicine and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs Healthcare campus in Boston. Dr. Berman also is a dedicated mentor who has formally mentored more than 60 students, and many more have worked in her lab as research assistants before heading to graduate or medical schools.
Through her career as a researcher, educator, and mentor, Dr. Berman has advanced our understanding of the brain mechanisms underlying the perceptual, emotional, and cognitive impairments associated with chronic alcohol use disorder (AUD), Alcoholic Korsakoff’s syndrome, and other human neurobehavioral disorders. With a translational approach that modeled tasks similar to those used with nonhuman animals, she helped characterize the deficits and intact abilities associated with human brain damage of various etiologies. Currently, Dr. Berman uses neurobehavioral tests and neuroimaging measures of brain structure and function to assess how emotional dysregulation may underlie addiction problems like AUD, and how AUD-related brain and neurobehavioral abnormalities differ for men and women. Dr. Berman’s findings are part of Dr. Berman's extensive body of published research.
Dr. Berman's extraordinary contributions have been recognized through many honors and awards. For example, she has been honored with a Fulbright Senior Scholar Award, which supported her teaching and research in Australia, and she received a MERIT Award from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. In 2004, the Massachusetts Neuropsychological Society presented her with a Lifetime Achievement award. From 2007 until 2015, Dr. Berman held a Senior Scientist Research and Mentorship Award from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. In 2011, she received the Henri Begleiter Excellence in Research Award from the Research Society on Alcoholism, which honors individuals who have demonstrated creativity and excellence in their research and whose work has had a major impact on the field. In 2012, she received the Distinguished Career Award from the International Neuropsychological Society for significant lifetime contributions to neuropsychology. In 2016 she was appointed by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as the Jack Mendelson Honorary Lecturer. And in 2020, Dr. Berman became Professor Emeritus at Boston University School of Medicine.
David Salmon, PhD
Dr. David Salmon is a Professor in the Department of Neurosciences at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Associate-Director of the UCSD Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (ADRC), and a faculty member in the UCSD Clinical Neuropsychology and Cognitive Sciences Programs. Dr. Salmon received his Ph.D. in Biopsychology from Rutgers University in 1984, completed post-doctoral training in animal and human neuropsychology at UCSD in 1986, and joined the UCSD faculty in 1987. He was appointed to the Helen A. Jarrett Chair in Alzheimer’s Disease Research in 2001.
Dr. Salmon’s research focuses on the neuropsychology of Alzheimer's disease and related disorders. He has published over 300 research articles and book chapters covering topics such as 1) clinical-pathological associations in Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia with Lewy Bodies, 2) patterns of cognitive deficits that distinguish between cortical and subcortical dementia syndromes, 3) the neuropsychology of episodic and semantic memory, and 4) prevalence and neuropsychological features of dementia in Shanghai, China and on the island of Guam.
Dr. Salmon has served on the Clinical Task Force for the NIA-funded Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center Program, the Cognitive Scales Committee of the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study, and the editorial boards of the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, Neuropsychology, Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, and Annual Review of Clinical Psychology
Edith V. Sullivan, PhD
Dr. Edith V. Sullivan is a professor in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine where she has been mentoring students and conducting research for the past 30 years. Dr. Sullivan’s background as an experimental neuropsychologist and brain imaging scientist led to the development of her program of study in alcoholism, focusing on faulty frontocerebellar circuitry underlying a selective subset of cognitive and motor dysfunctions commonly expressed in alcoholism. Her ongoing work focuses on neural mechanisms of structural and functional connectivity underlying cognitive and motor processes in human alcoholism, animal models of high alcohol exposure in interaction with nutritional deficiencies, and how comorbidities of HIV infection along with normal aging compound the throes of alcoholism on brain structure, function, and neural circuitry. Dr. Sullivan is also an investigator on the National Consortium on Alcohol and NeuroDevelopment in Adolescence (NCANDA), which is a prospective multi-site study aimed at determining the developmental trajectories of brain conjunction with the neuropsychological and emotional development of adolescents before and after initiating drinking. Dr. Sullivan is the author of more than 300 peer-reviewed papers, as well as many chapters and reviews and has presented her alcoholism research nationally and internationally. Her scientific honors include National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism MERIT and Senior Scientist Awards, Research Society on Alcoholism Distinguished Researcher Award and Henri Begleiter Award for Excellence in Research, International Neuropsychological Society Distinguished Career Award, and Doctorate Honoris Causa bestowed by the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes of France. She received her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology at the University of Connecticut.
Mieke Verfaellie, PhD
Dr. Mieke Verfaellie is Senior Research Career Scientist at VA Boston Healthcare System and Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine. As Director of the Memory Disorders Research Center at VA Boston, she has studied patients with amnesia as a model system for understanding disorders of memory as well as a means of elucidating the cognitive and neural architecture of memory. More recently, she has also studied the cognitive, and neural sequelae of traumatic brain injury and its interface with emotional trauma in military veterans. Her work has been funded continuously for over 25 years by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs. She is currently an Associate Editor for JINS and Cognitive Neuropsychology, and serves on the editorial board of Neuropsychologia, American Psychologist, and Brain and Cognition. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association - Clinical Neuropsychology and of the Association for Psychological Science. She is a member at large of the INS Board of Governors.