Public health professor honored as a world leader in neuroscience

Dr. James Mortimer recognized as one of 17 world leaders in neuroscience by Panama’s President

James Mortimer, PhD, FAAN, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of South Florida College of Public Health, was recently honored as one of 17 world leaders in neuroscience by the Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli. 

The award ceremony was held at the International Conference on New Discoveries in Brain organized by the National Secretariat for Science and Technical Innovation of Panama (SENACT).  In addition to Dr. Mortimer, two nobel laureates and 15 other scientists from North and South America, Europe and Asia, received awards.

Dr. James Mortimer

The awards were based on new discoveries and scientific contributions to the understanding and treatment of neurological diseases.  Dr. Mortimer was recognized for his work on the causes and pathology of Alzheimer’s disease, particularly through the Nun Study. This groundbreaking study provided the first evidence  that early life characteristics accurately predicted who would get the mind-robbing disease more than 60 years later. 

The Nun Study, begun in 1992, followed 678 Catholic sisters, initially 75 to 102 years of age, who were evaluated yearly  for dementia and who agreed to brain donation at the time of their deaths.  In 1996, this study found that Alzheimer’s disease with onset in old age could be predicted accurately from characteristics of autobiographical essays written at an average age of 22.  Findings from the Nun Study have been important in demonstrating the value of magnetic resonance imaging in detecting Alzheimer pathology years before the first symptoms of the illness appear, a critical step in its eventual prevention.