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Russell H. Swerdlow, MD

Russell Swerdlow portrait
Gene and Marge Sweeney Professor

Professor, Neurology

Professor, Cell Biology and Physiology

Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Director, Alzheimer's Disease Research Center

Director, Neurodegenerative Disorders Program

Professional Background

Dr. Russell Swerdlow is a professor in the Departments of Neurology, Cell Biology and Anatomy, and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. He directs the University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, its Neurodegenerative Disorders Program, and the Heartland Center for Mitochondrial Medicine. He received undergraduate and MD degrees from New York University and trained as a neurologist and Alzheimer’s specialist at the University of Virginia. He holds the Gene and Marge Sweeney Chair at the University of Kansas and is a recipient of an S. Weir Mitchell Award from the American Academy of Neurology, a Cotzias Award from the American Parkinson’s Disease Association, a Chancellor’s Club Research Award from the University of Kansas, a Dolph Simons Research Achievement Award in the Biomedical Sciences from the University of Kansas, and the Oskar Fischer Prize. From 2017-2021 he sat on the NIA Board of Scientific Counselors. He previously chaired the CurePSP Foundation's Research Committee and chaired the Commonwealth of Virginia's Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Commission. He currently serves on advisory committees for several biomedical Foundations, and on the editorial boards of several biomedical research journals. Dr. Swerdlow’s research focuses on brain energy metabolism, its role in Alzheimer’s disease, and its therapeutic manipulation.

Dr. Swerdlow has over 25 years of experience in the evaluation and treatment of patients with memory complaints, cognitive disorders, and behavioral disorders.

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 $30 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.

  • 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