In September, 2019 Neuropsychologist Stephen Correia, PhD joined the Memory and Aging Program (MAP) at Butler Hospital as Director of Research. Focusing exclusively on Alzheimer’s research was something he’d longed to do for some time, but it wasn’t the first introduction to MAP for the native Rhode Islander. Not by a long shot. Instead, the new role has actually brought Dr. Correia full-circle in his own career while he helps to propel the research behind the fight to end Alzheimer’s, as well as the careers of the next generation of neuropsychologists.
Dr. Correia first came to Butler Hospital in 2000 to complete his post-doctoral fellowship. After earning a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Rhode Island he completed a fellowship in neuropsychology at Butler Hospital, followed by a fellowship in dementia research in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University.
Thus began a career-shaping mentorship and career-long partnership with Dr. Stephen Salloway, director of Neurology and the Memory and Aging Program at Butler Hospital and professor of Neurology and Psychology and Human Behavior at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, as well as Dr. Paul Malloy, director of Psychology and co-director of the Memory and Aging Program at Butler Hospital, and professor of Psychiatry at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.
Not only do those early experiences working at MAP with Drs. Salloway and Malloy continue to influence the trajectory of Dr. Correia’s own career, but they also inspire his ongoing efforts to pay forward the mentorship he received to the next generation of neuropsychologists entering the field.
A Fascination with How the Brain Affects Behavior Launches A Career
“When I was studying psychology as an undergrad, I just became really fascinated with it, and the part that interested me most were the brain-behavior relationships – how this organ can produce behavior and thought,” Dr. Correia says.
It was that fascination that led Dr. Correia to focus much of his research on brain imaging analysis and its use as a tool to better understand how changes in the structure and function of the brain relate to changes in behavior and thought.
Over the course of his accomplished 20 year career thus far, that research has ranged from studying the changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease at the Memory and Aging Program, to studying and treating the effects of traumatic brain injuries during the 14 years he served as the neuropsychology section leader at the Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Hospital.
During that time Dr. Correia has published more than 40 articles in peer-reviewed medical journals and authored or co-authored eight books, including two with Dr. Salloway focused on CADASIL, a genetic disease of the small blood vessels in the brain that can lead to stroke, dementia and other types of deep brain injuries.
He has also excelled in teaching, serving as a member of the faculty for the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University since 2005. There, he was awarded the Outstanding Teaching Award in Psychology in 2009 and the Toy Caldwell-Colbert Excellence in Teaching Award in 2017.
His accomplishments in both research and teaching can be in part traced back to his own early days at the Memory and Aging Program.
“The experiences I had with [Drs. Salloway and Malloy] as a fellow at Butler Hospital and at Brown, and even with Dr. Malloy when I was a practicum student, really helped to frame and develop my research methodology knowledge,” Dr. Correia says.
Moving the Science Forward, While Paying the Mentorship Forward
Through his ongoing professorship at Brown and his new role back at the Memory and Aging Program, Dr. Correia has now taken on the same mantle as his own mentors: advancing research while also helping to advance the development and growth of others that are new to the field.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have had an influence on Brown’s neuropsychology training program, having mentored many interns and fellows and watched them go on to successful careers, many of them in research,” Dr. Correia says.
In fact, Dr. Correia has mentored more than 100 students from colleges throughout the region through internships, practicums, fellowships and other advising opportunities. That included two of MAP’s researchers while they completed their studies and fellowships at Brown. He supervised Dr. Athene Lee, now a neuropsychologist and researcher at MAP, when she completed her pre-doctoral internship rotation and fellowship at the VA. He also provided research guidance to MAP Neuropsychologist Dr. Louisa Thompson during her fellowship.
Now, as director of research at MAP, Dr. Correia is excited to combine his own work with that of those he has mentored.
“When the opportunity arose to come back [to MAP] and make Alzheimer’s research my primary focus that was very enticing to me, especially given the growth of the program in recent years and the fact that I’m now able to help shepherd the development of others’ research careers in the field,” Dr. Correia says.
“One of the things that excites me the most about the work we’re doing now here at MAP, particularly with many of our early-career investigators, is developing new methods to identify the early stages of cognitive decline, and using lifestyle interventions to try and guard against that decline,” he says.
There’s much to be excited about in the field of Alzheimer’s research overall, Dr. Correia says, and he’s looking forward to being part of it.
“When I was here in the early 2000’s there was of course research being done and trials for new treatments. But the thing I’ve noticed that’s different coming back now is that the field has grown so rapidly and so much,” he says.
“There’s so much infrastructure that’s been built to recruit research participants, develop new ideas and branch with other disciplines. The innovation over the last decade has been absolutely remarkable. Alzheimer’s is a hard problem to solve, but I think that with the infrastructure and research funding in place and with research minds from the molecular level to behavioral interventions converging, we are on our way to finally discovering how to treat or cure this disease.”
To learn more about the Memory and Aging Program and how you can get involved, visit butler.org/memory.
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