Meet the lab at the forefront of neurogenetics in aging

The brain undergoes natural structural and functional decline during normal aging. We are interested in how genomic variation affects neuroanatomy, cognition and behavior, and how the interplay of these factors promotes vulnerability or resistance to neurodegeneration in diverse populations.

We take a two-pronged approach for investigating the role of genes in brain health:

  1. Elucidate how variation across the genome confers risk for neurodegenerative disease 
  2. Identify genetic variation that promotes brain and cognitive resilience in aging

The Yokoyama lab lives within the UCSF Memory & Aging Center in the Department of Neurology.

Our Motivation

Our own families and friends have been affected by neurogenerative disease, which motivates us even further to better understand the brain.

In the summer of 2019, we lost our dear friend and colleague, Dr. Rahul Desikan, to ALS. Rahul was an outstanding physician and scientist in the prime of his career and his life. He was only 41. We honor his memory, and the lives and memories of our families and friends affected by neurodegenerative disease, by relentlessly pursuing this research.

My family has been personally affected by dementia, as have millions of other families, and this provides real motivation to keep pushing for new knowledge and to convert that knowledge into practical advances in terms of biomarkers and therapeutics.

Dan Sirkis, Staff Scientist

Yokoyama Lab

Our Mission

To develop and train the next generation of innovative researchers by uncovering new insights into the genetic contributions to neurodegeneration and healthy cognitive aging in diverse populations using genomics, transcriptomics, and neuroimaging methods.

I hope that things that we do and find in this research could someday help someone I love, and help the world face these threatening diseases better.

Stefanie Pina-Escudero, Graduate Student

Yokoyama Lab

Our Global Community

We study and represent diverse populations, and we recruit and work with people from diverse cultural, educational, and technical backgrounds, from all over the world.

As a first-generation Latina scientist, I hope this research can help tackle some of today’s most pressing health disparities affecting my community.

Patricia “Ale” Castruita, Research Data Analyst

Yokoyama Lab

Our Vision

A polygenic risk prediction and radiogenomic biomarker for every patient.

I am passionate about working toward furthering the understanding of neurodegenerative diseases that know no boundaries, and to advance the human condition for all. The abundance of and potential for new discovery in this field creates for an exciting day-to-day, and a satisfying dynamic workflow as each experimental result works to lay another brick in the road to gain a more complete understanding of biological and socioeconomic factors driving propensity for neurodegenerative disease.

Taylor Johnson, Staff Research Associate

Yokoyama Lab