USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Center and Research Institute

Board of Advisors

  • Dennis F. Heinrichs, B.S.N., M.B.A. - Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer/Chairman of the Board, LifeLink Foundation
  • Eric Pfeiffer, M.D. - Vice Chairman of the Board and founding Director of Suncoast Alzheimer's and Gerontology Center 
  • Mary M. Barnes - Executive Director, Alzheimer's Community Care 
  • Johnnie B. Byrd, Jr., J.D. - former Chairman of the Board, former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives 
  • Sherrie Nickell, Ed.D. - Professor, College of Education, Southeastern University 
  • Valerie Landrio McDevitt, J.D., MST, CLP - Associate Vice President for USF Technology Transfer & Business Partnerships, U.S. Registered Patent Attorney 
  • Frank L. Morsani - Trustee of the Frank and Carol Morsani Foundation, Inc., and member of USF Foundation Board of Trustees

Dennis F. Heinrichs, B.S.N., M.B.A. is Chief Executive Officer/Chairman of the Board, LifeLink Foundation, a non-profit community service organization dedicated to the recovery and transplantation of organs and tissue. He received his B.A. degree from St. John’s University, B.S. in nursing from St. Louis University and M.B.A. from the University of South Florida. Heinrichs joined the Florida West Coast Organ Procurement Foundation, Inc. as director of organ procurement in 1982, and became LifeLink Foundation’s executive vice president in 1986, president in 1995 and CEO/Chairman of the Board since 2016.

Heinrichs has held elected and appointed leadership positions in many local, regional and national organizations including the United Network for Organ Sharing, Association of Organ Procurement Organizations and Tampa General Hospital Organ Transplant Council. Articles by Heinrichs have been published in journals, manuals and transplant industry newsletters.

Dr. Pfeiffer is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and founding Director of the Suncoast Alzheimer's and Gerontology Center at the University of South Florida. He is a nationally and internationally recognized authority on health and aging. Dr. Pfeiffer is the author of two important consumer health books: “Winning Strategies for Successful Aging,” published by Yale University Press in 2013, and “The Art of Caregiving in Alzheimer's Disease,” published in 2011 by In 1977 Dr. Pfeiffer was awarded the Allen Gold Medal for outstanding achievement in the area of Geriatric Psychiatry by the American Geriatric Society. In 1985 Dr. Pfeiffer was honored for his work in the area of Alzheimer's disease through the establishment of the Eric Pfeiffer Chair in Alzheimer's Disease Research at USF. He is listed in Who's Who in America and in The Best Doctors in America. In 1999 Dr. Pfeiffer was given the Jack Weinberg Award of the American Psychiatric Association for "outstanding work in the field of geriatric Psychiatry." Dr. Pfeiffer has conducted numerous studies on new medications for use with Alzheimer's patients and individuals with minor cognitive impairment. These studies include work with each of the cholinesterase inhibitors, Aricept, Exelon and Razadyne, as well as with the only approved NMDA-inhibitor, Namenda.

Mary M. Barnes is one of the original founding members of Alzheimer's Community Care, Inc., a Florida-based, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization founded in 1996 to provide specialized care to patients and caregivers living with Alzheimer's disease and related disorders in three Florida counties. She has been the organization's leader since its inception and continues to serve as the President and Chief Executive Officer. Ms. Barnes has been working in the field of gerontology for her entire career but emerged as a leading advocate for her home state of Connecticut, where she was the Senior Citizen Program Director at Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield. She is an accredited Fulbright Scholar and has and continues to serve on several state-level committees, including the Alzheimer's Disease Initiative Advisory Committee's Home and Community-Based Services Subcommittee (co-chair), Special Needs Shelter Interagency Committee, and Silver Alert Support Committee (chair). Ms. Barnes' life continues to be dedicated to being an advocate for Alzheimer's patients and caregivers residing in the community.

Johnnie B. Byrd, Jr. has been a longtime advocate in the fight against Alzheimer's disease. His father died of the disease in 1998. Mr. Byrd sponsored legislation in 2002 creating the Alzheimer's Center at the University of South Florida with $25 million in state funding. He enjoys speaking to and encouraging Alzheimer's support groups and continues to champion efforts to support family caregivers. Mr. Byrd served as a Florida State Representative from 1996 until 2004, and served as Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives from 2002 to 2004. Mr. Byrd is an attorney with the Plant City law firm of Byrd & Barnhill, P.L. He earned a B.S. in Business Administration from Auburn University and received his Juris Doctor from the University of Alabama. Active in civic affairs, Mr. Byrd is a member of the Plant City Rotary Club and has served as a board member of a number of local charities and civic organizations.

Johnnie and wife Melane have four children and one grandson. Johnnie and Melane are active members of the First Baptist Church of Plant City where Johnnie is an ordained deacon and a Sunday School teacher.

Dr. Sherrie Nickell has dedicated her life’s work to advancing the field of education. The former superintendent of Polk County (Florida) Public Schools, one of the nation’s largest school systems, Dr. Nickell has served as a professional educator for over 30 years. She has served the community as a member of the Board of Directors for many local organizations, including the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce, United Way, Polk Works, Leadership Lakeland, Polk Vision, Lakeland Vision, and the Central Florida Economic Development Council. She is a designated Alzheimer’s Association Advocate, speaks to community members about the disease, and has met with lawmakers advocating for increased funding for dementia research in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C.

Losing her husband in 2014 (stricken with early-onset Alzheimer’s), strengthened Dr. Nickell’s passion to promote dementia research, advocate for families affected by the disease, serve as a voice in the community to educate others about Alzheimer’s, and personally assist caregivers.

Valerie Landrio McDevitt is a U.S. registered patent attorney and Associate Vice President for Technology Transfer & Business Partnerships at the University of South Florida. Valerie is responsible for the USF Technology Transfer Office/Patents and Licensing, which acts as the main university contact for industry partners and start-up companies interested in technology transfer. Valerie represents the university and the Senior Vice President for Research, Innovation & Economic Development, as needed, for research and innovation in matters related to industry connections, startups and technology transfer. She is a certified licensing professional through LES, a member of the Georgia and Florida bars, and is admitted to practice before the Federal Patent and Trademark Office.

Frank L. Morsani has been described as a consummate philanthropist, businessman and community leader who is constantly enriching the Tampa Bay community. Mr. Morsani is the chairman of Automotive Investments Inc. and a trustee of the Frank and Carol Morsani Foundation, Inc. His work as a businessman includes service on national, state and local committees and boards. National recognition came to Mr. Morsani when he was appointed by President Bush and President Reagan to two Small Business Councils. In 1986, he chaired the board of the United States Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Morsani has served on the USF Foundation Board of Trustees since 1995 and is a past vice chairman of the board. Mr. Morsani served as chair of the USF Endowment Fund for USF Football and on the executive committee of the Great Achievements – Great Expectations Campaign from 1996-2001 – a campaign that raised more than $255 million in support of USF's academic priorities. In 1981, he was presented the USF President's Distinguished Citizen Award and he received the Alumni Association's Class of '56 Award in 1986. In 2005, Mr. Morsani received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from USF.