Steven Dekosky

Alzheimer's Research

Center at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine A Pioneer in early detection of Alzheimer's Steven DeKosky, along with University of Pittsburgh colleagues William Klunk and Chet Mathis, isolated the Pittsburgh B compound (PIB), a plaque-like substance secreted in the brain that allows the clearest scans possible of potential damage from Alzheimer's. Prior to this study, there had not been a non-invasive way to monitor the brains of people with Alzheimer's, a significant barrier to studying disease progression and treatment effectiveness. Dr. DeKosky and others are currently conducting a series of tests on PIB in the brains of early-onset Alzheimer's patients in their early 30's who have a genetic risk for the disease to pinpoint when brain function begins to be affected, even before behavior is affected, so that treatments can begin earlier.

Self Exam

  • Occupation: Physician, Researcher, and Vice President and Dean of the University of Virginia School of Medicine.
  • Alternative career choice: Psychologist (the next B. F. Skinner) or play-by-play announcer for the Philadelphia Phillies.
  • Musical Instrument I Play: Piano, clarinet.
  • I tend to approach life: With a sense of wonder and humor.
  • Biggest misconceptions about me or my work: Many people still think that Alzheimer's disease cannot be accurately diagnosed while one is alive—absolutely incorrect.
  • Worst part-time job ever: Summer job as a moving company assistant.
  • Longest med school study session: Four years—I did not get out much.
  • Best moment in medicine/research: 1) When my daughters were born. 2) My first discovery—when the number of synapses the brain in Alzheimer's disease correlated with the severity of thinking impairment—I still remember seeing the data graph come up on the screen!


Steven T. DeKosky (born 1947) is a medical researcher and academic known for his work in the field of Alzheimer’s disease. DeKosky has served as professor and chairman of the Department of Neurology and director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh. On August 1, 2008, DeKosky became Dean of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, an appointment announced June 12, 2008.

DeKosky received his bachelors degree from Bucknell University and completed graduate work in neuroscience and psychology at the University of Florida, graduating from the University of Florida College of Medicine in 1974. He completed a residency in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital and a three-year residency in neurology at the University of Florida concluding in 1978, then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in neurochemistry at the Clinical Neuroscience Research Center in U.Va.’s Department of Neurology, and his first academic appointment was in the Department of Neurology in 1979. In the 1980s he was on the faculty of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine where he co-founded the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. He became permanent chairman of the Department of Neurology at the University of Pittsburgh in 2002.

DeKosky has served in leadership roles for several National Institutes of Health research-related activities as well as the boards of directors of both the Alzheimer’s Association USA and Alzheimer’s Disease International. He is a member of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and chairs their Strategic Planning Committee. In addition, he serves on the editorial boards of six of the leading neurology and Alzheimer’s clinical publications and is a journal reviewer for another 20 clinical journals.

DeKosky’s research focuses on both the science and clinical care of Alzheimer’s disease. He is currently leading a 3,000 person, National Institutes of Health-funded trial assessing the effectiveness of Ginkgo biloba in delaying or preventing the onset of dementia in healthy adults.