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Russell H. Swerdlow, MD

Russell Swerdlow portrait
Professor, Neurology

Professor, Molecular and Integrative Physiology


Gene and Marge Sweeney Professor

Professional Background

I am a professor in the Departments of Neurology, Molecular and Integrative Physiology, and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. I direct the University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, its Neurodegenerative Disorders Program, and the Heartland Center for Mitochondrial Medicine.

I received undergraduate and MD degrees from New York University, where I began my studies of Alzheimer's disease energy metabolism and graduated with Research Honors. I then trained as a neurologist and Alzheimer’s specialist at the University of Virginia. While I was at the University of Virginia I received an S. Weir Mitchell Award from the American Academy of Neurology, a Cotzias Award from the American Parkinson’s Disease Association, chaired the CurePSP Foundation's Research Committee, and chaired the Commonwealth of Virginia's Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Commission. I moved to the University of Kansas in 2007. I currently hold the Gene and Marge Sweeney Chair, and in 2014 received the University of Kansas Chancellor’s Club Research Award. I have sat or currently sit on multiple federal scientific review panels including the NIA Board of Scientific Counselors, research or advisory committees for several biomedical Foundations, and on the editorial boards of several biomedical research journals.

As a clinician-scientist, my research focuses on brain energy metabolism, its role in Alzheimer’s disease, and its therapeutic manipulation. My clinical expertise is in
cognitive/behavioral neurology, and I see patients in a subspecialty Memory Care Clinic.

Education and Training
  • BA, Psychobiology, New York University
  • MD, Medicine, New York University
  • Internship, Internal Medicine, University of Virginia
  • Residency, Neurology, University of Virginia
  • Clinical Fellowship, Geriatric Neuropsychiatry, University of Virginia / Western State Hospital
  • Post Doctoral Fellowship, Neurodegenerative Diseases, University of Virginia
Licensure, Accreditations & Certifications
  • American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
  • Medical Doctor (MD), Kansas State Board of Healing Arts
Professional Affiliations
  • Alzheimer's Drug Development Foundation, Alzheimer's Drug Development Foundation Clinical Advisory Board, Member, 2014 - Present
  • American Academy of Neurology, Alliance Awards Subcommittee, Member, 2001 - 2007
  • Society for Neuroscience, Member, 1999 - Present
  • American Academy of Neurology, Member, 1992 - Present



My research focuses on why brain bioenergetic function declines with advancing age, why brain bioenergetic changes are accentuated in neurodegenerative disease states, and how to repair and reverse age-and-neurodegeneration-related bioenergetic dysfunction. I began this line of investigation as an undergraduate trainee, and as a medical student I continued my research training as part of my university’s Research Honors Program. During my post-graduate neurology training I focused on studies of mitochondrial function and genetics in a basic science laboratory. Following my residency, I served as a postdoctoral fellow in a mitochondria-focused laboratory. With the support of a K08 Award I transitioned to an independent investigator, and since then I have continuously pursued my research program. My research has covered several research disciplines, including basic, translational, and clinical research and I have served as a principal investigator on multiple types of NIH grants with a cumulative portfolio value of over $20 million. The central components of my research program are captured by my previously described "Alzheimer's Disease Mitochondrial Cascade Hypothesis." The sum of my experience to date puts me in a good position pursue a broad range of research projects relating to brain bioenergetics, brain aging, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Current Research and Grants
  • Mechanistic Basis of the mtDNA Haplogroup J-Alzheimer's Disease Association, NIH, PI
  • Swerdlow, R., H, Hui, D, Chalise, P, Sharma, P, Wang, X, Andrews, S., J, Pa, J, Mahnken, J., D, Morris, J, Wilkins, H., M, Burns, J., M, Michaelis, M., L, Michaelis, E., K. 2020. Exploratory analysis of mtDNA haplogroups in two Alzheimer's longitudinal cohorts.. Alzheimer's & dementia : the journal of the Alzheimer's Association, 16 (8), 1164-1172
  • Weidling, I., W, Wilkins, H., M, Koppel, S., J, Hutfles, L, Wang, X, Kalani, A, Menta, B., W, Ryan, B, Perez-Ortiz, J, Gamblin, T., C, Swerdlow, R., H. 2020. Mitochondrial DNA Manipulations Affect Tau Oligomerization.. Journal of Alzheimer's disease : JAD, 77 (1), 149-163
  • Andrews, S., J, Fulton-Howard, B, Patterson, C, McFall, G., P, Gross, A, Michaelis, E., K, Goate, A, Swerdlow, R., H, Pa, J. 2020. Mitonuclear interactions influence Alzheimer's disease risk.. Neurobiology of aging, 87, 138.e7-138.e14
  • Swerdlow, R., H. 2020. The mitochondrial hypothesis: Dysfunction, bioenergetic defects, and the metabolic link to Alzheimer's disease.. International review of neurobiology, 154, 207-233
  • Vidoni, E., D, Choi, I., Y, Lee, P, Reed, G, Zhang, N, Pleen, J, Mahnken, J., D, Clutton, J, Becker, A, Sherry, E, Bothwell, R, Anderson, H, Harris, R., A, Brooks, W, Wilkins, H., M, Mosconi, L, Burns, J., M, Swerdlow, R., H. 2020. Safety and target engagement profile of two oxaloacetate doses in Alzheimer's patients.. Alzheimer's & dementia : the journal of the Alzheimer's Association
  • Swerdlow, R., H. 2018. Mitochondria and Mitochondrial Cascades in Alzheimer's Disease.. Journal of Alzheimer's disease : JAD, 62 (3), 1403-1416
  • Swerdlow, R., H, Burns, J., M, Khan, S., M. 2014. The Alzheimer's disease mitochondrial cascade hypothesis: progress and perspectives.. Biochimica et biophysica acta, 1842 (8), 1219-31
  • Rademakers, R, Baker, M, Nicholson, A., M, Rutherford, N., J, Finch, N, Soto-Ortolaza, A, Lash, J, Wider, C, Wojtas, A, DeJesus-Hernandez, M, Adamson, J, Kouri, N, Sundal, C, Shuster, E., A, Aasly, J, MacKenzie, J, Roeber, S, Kretzschmar, H., A, Boeve, B., F, Knopman, D., S, Petersen, R., C, Cairns, N., J, Ghetti, B, Spina, S, Garbern, J, Tselis, A., C, Uitti, R, Das, P, Van Gerpen, J., A, Meschia, J., F, Levy, S, Broderick, D., F, Graff-Radford, N, Ross, O., A, Miller, B., B, Swerdlow, R., H, Dickson, D., W, Wszolek, Z., K. 2011. Mutations in the colony stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R) gene cause hereditary diffuse leukoencephalopathy with spheroids.. Nature genetics, 44 (2), 200-5
  • Swerdlow, R., H, Parks, J., K, Cassarino, D., S, Maguire, D., J, Maguire, R., S, Bennett, Jr, J., P, Davis, R., E, Parker, Jr, W., D. 1997. Cybrids in Alzheimer's disease: a cellular model of the disease?. Neurology, 49 (4), 918-25
  • Swerdlow, R., H, Parks, J., K, Miller, S., W, Tuttle, J., B, Trimmer, P., A, Sheehan, J., P, Bennett, Jr, J., P, Davis, R., E, Parker, Jr, W., D. 1996. Origin and functional consequences of the complex I defect in Parkinson's disease.. Annals of neurology, 40 (4), 663-71