Who We Are
William Vega

William Vega

Distinguished Professor of Community Health, Florida International University

Abstract: Mitigating Dementia: The search for pathways between neuroscience and public health

A decade ago the focus of neuroscience in dementia was focused on proximate mechanisms of pathology and developing drugs to arrest neurodegeneration. The inability to discover a cure after decades of basic and translational clinical research sparked an alternative search for a new paradigm of interventions. This has opened the door to social epidemiologic and behavioral research identifying factors that increase resilience against neurodegeneration across life course. These approaches seek to reduce dementia onset or at least delay it as long as possible by focusing on population health and cognitive factors, and also reducing risk of toxic environmental exposures. Evidence is rapidly appearing that non-medical approaches are efficacious. The subsequent challenge will be how to introduce and sustain these interventions at a population level.


Dr. Vega is a Distinguished Professor of Community Health, FIU, and has conducted community and clinical research on life course health, mental health and substance abuse issues, treatment development and services in diverse regions of the United States and Latin America over 5 decades. In the past 14 years his research has focused on older adult health and functioning, and the prevention and management of dementia in low resource populations. Vega is Emeritus Professor of Public Health at U.C. Berkeley and Emeritus Provost Professor of Medicine, Public Health and Social Work at the University of Southern California, and formerly Associate Provost at UCLA. Vega has directed university research centers and is highly cited. Vega is an elected member of the National Academic of Medicine. Vega’s research has been supported by multiple public and private agencies and foundations. Presently, Dr. Vega is conducting research on social determinants of health in vulnerable populations and implementation of supporting services during the transition from late middle age to older adulthood, domestically and globally.