Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Search Releases

Media Contacts
Gale Smith
Phone: 832.667.5843

Houston Methodist hires international neuroimaging expert to lead Alzheimer’s center

Houston, TX - 11/13/2013

Dr. Joseph C. Masdeu joins as director of the Nantz National Alzheimer Center


Joseph C. Masdeu, M.D., Ph.D., the first physician-scientist to detect an early imaging feature of Alzheimer’s disease, joins Houston Methodist Hospital as director of the Nantz National Alzheimer Center. He starts Dec. 30.

Masdeu brings more than 30 years of experience as a clinician, researcher and leader in Alzheimer’s and neuroimaging, having led neurology departments in New York and his native Spain. He comes from the National Institutes of Health, where he served the past six years as a senior staff physician and scientist in the Section of Integrative Neuroimaging of the Clinical Brain Disorders Branch.

His vision for the Nantz National Alzheimer Center is to elevate it to be the preeminent center in the United States in the prevention of Alzheimer disease, while also conducting research to bring better therapeutic approaches to patients who already experience symptoms from this disease.

Click on thumbnail for a neuroimaging infographic.

An estimated 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer, and someone is diagnosed with the disease every 69 seconds. By 2050, experts say someone will be diagnosed with Alzheimer every 33 seconds, raising total numbers to a staggering 11 to 16 million people.

“Dr. Masdeu is not only internationally known for his work in neuroimaging, but he’s a clinical neurologist who will treat patients as well as lead major research efforts,” said Dr. Stanley H. Appel, chairman of neurology and director of the Houston Methodist Neurological Institute. “His leadership and his focus on using new molecular neuroimaging markers to study neurodegenerative brain disorders will elevate our center in the national arena.”

In addition to directing Houston Methodist’s NNAC, Masdeu will also serve as director of neuroimaging and hold the Robert Graham Distinguished Chair in Neuroimaging.

Over the years, Masdeu’s research has clarified in humans the anatomy of the memory pathways, one of the first targets of Alzheimer’s disease; determined brain systems differences between Alzheimer’s disease and another common cause of dementia and vascular disease; and described a new molecular probe to detect neuronal loss in Alzheimer’s disease using positron emission tomography. At the NIH, Masdeu investigated the role of genetics in neurodegenerative diseases causing cognitive impairment.

Research has already shown that people predisposed to Alzheimer disease have excessive amounts of a protein called beta amyloid on the brain. Current research involving the use of amyloid PET imaging is focused on removal of beta amyloid in patients in their 70s, years before they may become symptomatic. One of Masdeu’s goals at Houston Methodist will be to see if this research could be applied to an even younger patient population, in order to decrease their chances of getting the devastating neurological disease that now impacts someone every minute.

Masdeu completed residency in Chicago and was certified in neurology by the American Board of Neurology and Psychiatry. He was a fellow in neuropathology at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital of Harvard Medical School.

He is the author of 144 peer-reviewed papers, 62 book chapters, and seven books, including “Localization in Clinical Neurology,” a standard in the field now in its 6th edition, which received the 2012 best medical book award from the British Medical Association. Masdeu is chairman of the Neuroimaging Research Group of the World Federation of Neurology. He has been a director of the American Academy of Neurology and president of the American Society of Neuroimaging. Since 2007, he has been the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Neuroimaging.

To speak with Joseph Masdeu, M.D., Ph.D., contact Gale Smith at GSmith@HoustonMethodist.org or 832.667.5843. Click here for more information on the Nantz National Alzheimer Center. For more information the on Houston Methodist, call 713.790.3333 or visit www.HoustonMethodist.org. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.


Emmy Award-winning sports commentator, Jim Nantz, partnered with the Houston Methodist Neurological Institute to create the Nantz National Alzheimer Center. Jim and his wife, Courtney, work tirelessly to increase funding and generate awareness of the effects of concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), as well as later life dementia disorders and Alzheimer's disease. Jim has made a generous lifetime commitment to aggressively support research to find a cure for Alzheimer disease as a lasting tribute to Jim's father, Jim Nantz, Jr. who battled Alzheimer's for 13 years.