USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Center and Research Institute

Welcome to the USF Health
Byrd Alzheimer’s Center
and Research Institute

The USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Center and Research Institute is dedicated to the prevention, treatment and cure of Alzheimer’s and related disorders. With highly qualified researchers, doctors, clinicians and educators, the institute is at the forefront of Alzheimer's research and care. 

The institute is a center of excellence at the University of South Florida that provides compassionate patient care, performs cutting edge research and delivers quality caregiver support and public and professional education. 

The Institute produces an Alzheimer's Caregiver Podcast to provide caregivers with practical information to help them care for their loved one.

 Click to listen to the
Alzheimer's Caregiver Podcast


Eileen Poiley, MS, Director of Education  at the Byrd Institute started the podcast during Covid as a means to provide the much needed education and  support to family caregivers. The Alzheimer's Caregiver Podcast just posted it's 100th episode, and based on the positive feedback and widespread impact, it will continue posting episodes to help caregivers.

Click to listen the podcast

click to read the USF Health full article 

Laura Blair, PhD, was awarded a research grant from the National Institutes of Health for over $3.4 million to study a risk factor for depressive symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease. Neuropsychiatric symptoms are commonly co-morbid with Alzheimer’s disease and correlate with a faster decline in patients. This work may lead to new approaches to help reduce these symptoms and slow Alzheimer’s disease progression. 
Dr. Danielle Gulick, PhD, a researcher at the Byrd Institute, was recently promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure. Dr. Gulick also received an Alzheimer's Association research grant award to study how maternal and adolescent alcohol exposure increases the risk of neurodegeneration in the aged brain.

Dr. Laura Blair, PhD, a researcher at the Byrd Institute, was recently promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure. Dr. Blair was also awarded a grant from the Alzheimer’s Association International Research Grant Program to develop a novel model to study resilience in neuropsychiatric symptoms in AD.

We are pleased to recognize Heather Wynne-Phillips, ARNP at the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer's Institute for achieving the highest patient satisfaction for all nurse practitioners across USF this past quarter. Heather is committed to provide excellent and compassionate care to her patients and this award recognizes her expertise and dedication to her patients and their caregivers. Congratulations to Heather!
Ram Bishnoi, MD has joined the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer's Institute as an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences. Dr. Bishnoi is a board-certified psychiatrist who specializes in geriatric psychiatry. He earned his medical degree from India and completed specialty training at University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX and Saint Louis University, St Louis MO. Before moving to Tampa, he was a faculty at the Augusta University's Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA. He is a member of the Byrd Institute’s Alzheimer's providers. Dr. Bishnoi conducts Alzheimer's disease clinical trials in addition to patient care and teaching. He is interested in clinical and translational research in the field of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. 
Gopal Thinakaran, PhD, Professor of Molecular Medicine and CEO of the Byrd Alzheimer's Center, and his research lab are studying the role that a little-known protein, BIN1, plays in the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. The understanding of the role of this protein could have implications for improved therapies for people who develop Alzheimer's.  Read full article here 
The findings of their research have been published in Brain: A Journal of Neurology
Niat Gebru is a doctoral student in Dr. Laura Blair’s lab, focusing on understanding the relationship between FKBP51 and neuropsychiatric disorders, like PTSD and Alzheimer's disease. Read More 

Joseph McMillan is a PhD student in Dr Thinakaran's lab and is interested in discovering how genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease lead to people getting the disease later in life. Read more

3 new NIH Awards:
Byrd Institute researchers Drs. Gulick and Heckman received their first NIH awards to study the relationship between sleep disruption and long-term alcohol addiction (Gulick) and novel LC3-associated endocytic trafficking in neuroinflammation (Heckmann).
Dr. Thinakaran received an NIH RO1 grant to study the Alzheimer’s risk factor BIN1 in tau pathology.

Foundation Awards:
Dr. Blair was awarded a Research Grant (AARG) from the Alzheimer’s Association International Research Grant Program to develop a novel model to study resilience in neuropsychiatric symptoms in AD.
Dr. Heckmann received two Florida Hightech Corridor Sponsored Research awards to develop and test novel therapeutic compounds for treating neurodegenerative diseases.

For more information, please see the Research News page.

 Dr Ponnusamy was awarded a fellowship from the Alzheimer's Association International Research Grant Program. This Research Fellowship will help him to characterize the interplay between BIN1, APOE (the top two risk genes for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease), and tau pathophysiology. This project might elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying BIN1-dependent APOE modulation of tauopathy.Click for more information about Dr Ponnusamy’s research

Hariom Yadav, PhD and USF Health researchers discover that fenchol, a natural compound found in basil and other plants, has the same beneficial effect as gut-derived metabolites in reducing neurotoxic effects of Alzheimer’s disease amyloid-beta in model systems. Dr Yadav, associate professor of neurosurgery and brain repair at USF Health and  Director of the USF Center for Microbiome Research was recently published in the Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

Click to read the full story about the Natural compound in basil that may protect against Alzheimer’s disease pathology.

Click to read the full story about USF Health researcher gut microbiome studies to improve brain health, decrease age-related diseases.

The USF Foundation announced a $1.8 million estate gift to USF Health that will fund a women’s heart health professorship, dermatology research endowment and caregiver education programs at the Byrd Alzheimer’s Center. Bruce Mackey, an avid community volunteer and USF Health patient, made the generous gift to USF.
“The USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute is honored to be one of the recipients of this gift”, said Dr. Gopal Thinakaran, CEO of the Byrd Institute. “Education and support for family caregivers is part of the Institute’s mission and this gift will enable us to do even more for the families affected by this devastating disease.”

Mackey lost family members to Alzheimer’s, which inspired him to allocate part of his gift to support caregiver programs. The new fund will be used to expand the Institute’s caregiver programs and to produce new educational resources to help family caregivers.

Click to read the full story about the Mackey estate gift and the impact to USF.

Click here for Byrd Institute caregiver programs.

Amanda Smith, MD, Clinical Director at the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer's Institute, was interviewed on the Peter Attia Drive Podcast, which focuses on physical, emotional and cognitive health topics to promote longevity. Dr. Attia’s podcast has over 30 million episodes and we are pleased to have Dr. Smith featured on an episode. Dr. Smith’s topic was “Diagnosing, preventing and treating Alzheimer's and what we can all learn from patients with dementia.”
Click here to listen to the Podcast interview

Dr. Amanda Smith, Director of Clinical Research at the Byrd Institute, was interviewed on ABC Action News to announce a new clinical trial being conducted at the Byrd Alzheimer's Institute. The trial is called the AHEAD Study and is being conducted at 75 sites across the U.S. and Canada. We are very pleased to be part of such a groundbreaking research study and we know the impact this could have worldwide.

Melike Yuksel is a postdoctoral scholar in Dr. Thinakaran's lab since November 2018 and works on the characterization of the biological pathways and pathogenic mechanisms regulated by BIN1, the second most common late-onset Alzheimer's disease risk factor.

Niat Gebru has been working on how HSP90 co-chaperones modulate tau as we age and contribute to Alzheimer’s disease pathology. For his PhD work, he is studying the relationships between FKBP51 (a co-chaperone of HSP90) and its role in stress induced PTSD.

Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute


Welcome to the Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute website.  We hope that you will find inspiration, information and hope from the work our team is doing in our research laboratories, with our clinical trials programs, with our patient care clinics  and with our caregiver, professional and community educational programs.


Contact Us 

Main number (813) 396-0606
Alzheimer's Clinic (813) 974-4355
Caregiver Programs (813) 396-0635

New Patient Appointment form

The  New Patient Appointment Form must be completed and mailed back to us in order to schedule your initial visit at our clinic.  If you can not print a copy, please call our clinic to have one mailed to you.

USF Alzheimer's News

USF Health research team studying role that little-known protein plays in the riddle of Alzheimer’s disease                      

USF Researcher and Byrd Institute faculty member, Hariom Yadav PhD interviewed on his research on his microbiome research and brain health.

USF Health studies how diet affects gut, oral microbiomes linked to brain health in older adults 

Tampa Bay Times interviewed Dr Amanda Smith about the new Alzheimer’s drug, Aduhelm. Read the article, “A new Alzheimer’s drug will soon be here. What does that mean for Florida”?

Dr Amanda Smith was featured in a live interview on air on channel 10 News discussing the new Alzheimer’s drug, Aduhelm.

Dr Smith was also interviewed on CW44 CBS Tampa Bay News broadcast discussing the clinical trial  and benefits of the new Alzheimer’s drug, Aduhelm.

Dr Amanda Smith, Director of Clinical Research at the Byrd Institute, is interviewed on ABC news about the new AHEAD study for individuals with no memory loss aimed to find medication to prevent Alzheimer's

University of South Florida Health neuroscientists discover a defect early in autophagy that may help develop SSH1 inhibitors to treat Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases

The Byrd Institute is participating in a worldwide clinical study aimed to delay or prevent Alzheimer's disease and volunteers are needed

Eileen Poiley, MS, Director of Education at the Byrd provides tips for caregivers during Covid 19 on a news segment on WFLA Bloom

Our Director of Clinical Research, Dr. Amanda Smith, joins former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Michael Clayton in discussing the importance of including people of color and those from diverse backgrounds in clinical research.

Eileen Poiley, MS, Director of Education is interviewed on USF Facebook Live on Alzheimer's and Covid 19

Next steps will accelerate our Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center

USF Research Day 2020 includes focus on Alzheimer’s

Research conducted by Byrd Institute laboratories (Drs.Woo, Liggett & Kang) focuses on preventing the buildup of brain-damaging tau tangles

Dr. Gopal Thinakaran pursues genetic clues to Alzheimer’s disease pathways 

Byrd Institute study suggests cell phone waves could combat the effects of Alzheimer's

Dr Alexa Woo's research targets B-arrestins with the aim of arresting Alzheimer's disease

Dr Amanda Smith's News Radio WFLA interview on Alzheimer's Diagnosis and Treatment

Dr Amanda Smith's News Radio WFLA interview on Alzheimer's Clinical Trials

David Kang probes brain changes in aging that tip the balance toward dementia

Next steps to accelerate our Alzheimer’s disease research, neuroscience efforts

Early life stress plus overexpressed FKBP5 protein increases anxiety behavior

Byrd Alzheimer’s Center: Basic research objectives and faculty recruitment strategy

Cofilin may be early culprit in tauopathy process leading to brain cell death

Leading Alzheimer’s researchers to join USF Health Neuroscience Institute

Jerri Edwards ranks #8 among NIH-funded researchers in Psychiatry

Byrd Institute's medical experts and resources help couple navigate Alzheimer's Journey

Supporting our Caregivers

USF researchers must overcome challenges for clinical trials success

Caregiver Support Groups and Programs 

We are pleased to offer a Alzheimer's Caregiver Podcast!

The Podcast is a great resource that is easily accessible and available to listen to at your convenience.  The goal of the Podcast is to  rovide important and practical information for caregivers. New episodes are added every week.


We are currently conducting our caregiver support group and caregiver workshops virtually on Zoom.

Please go to our Caregiver page for more information or email the Director of Education