Chief Scientific Officer joins Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative


Dr. Alexander will join BAI in January
after years of experience in the
pharmaceutical industry.

The Banner Alzheimer’s Institute is pleased to welcome Robert Alexander, MD, as chief scientific officer for the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative (API). Through charitable support, the Banner Alzheimer’s Foundation will fund the first two years of this position. The Foundation has provided philanthropic support to Banner Alzheimer’s Institute (BAI) since its inception in 2006.

Dr. Alexander will join BAI in January after years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. He has held leadership roles in the early clinical development of treatments for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative disorders for Takeda, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline. He most recently served as vice president of the neuroscience therapeutic area unit at Takeda.

In this newly created position, Dr. Alexander will serve as API’s clinical scientific expert, lead existing or pending clinical research programs, and support new early drug development programs.

We sat down with Dr. Alexander to learn about him and his new role.

What interests you about API?

API is a world leader in Alzheimer’s disease research. I like their focus on preventing cognitive decline before it begins. API’s leaders - Dr. Reiman, Dr. Tariot and Dr. Langbaum - are big thinkers and I like that. I’m proud and excited to be joining their team.

What do you hope to accomplish at API?

I want to share my more than 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry with API. I’ve developed a deep knowledge of clinical drug development and plan to use that to build on the clinical trial portfolio already in place at API. It’s my hope we can speed up the development of treatments that are in the early phases of development.

What is your vision for Alzheimer’s disease prevention research?

The goal of prevention research is to find people at risk very early in the disease process in order to slow down or stop the disease. We have many of tools already to identify people most at risk. Now our challenge is to discover the right treatments.

What is the most promising research in Alzheimer’s?

I think the development of biomarkers that Dr. Reiman and others have been working on is revolutionary. The fact that we can now look into a living brain to see if someone has a neurodegenerative illness is amazing. Not long ago we could only diagnose Alzheimer’s with an autopsy. Now brain imaging and soon blood tests can give us answers at the earliest signs of illness. This means we can treat people much sooner than ever before.

What interests you the most about Alzheimer’s disease prevention research?

We’re developing a deeper understanding of the illness and what causes it. This should enable us to come up with a really impactful treatment. We don’t know everything, but with what we know we must push to see if we can develop an effective treatment now.