healthy, normal aging

Healthy Aging

The purpose of this study is to learn more about how a healthy person ages and what changes in the brain occur with aging.


Measuring Social Behavior in Neurodegenerative Disease

The purpose of this study is to identify characteristic patterns of social and emotional cognition to improve both early diagnosis of different neurodegenerative diseases and our knowledge of normal function in healthy adults.


  • Study director: Katherine Rankin, PhD
  • Sponsor: National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Institute on Aging (NIA)
  • Recruiting?: Yes
  • Official study title: Measuring Altered Social Behavior in Neurodegenerative Disease

Rosalie Gearhart, RN, MSN

Director of Operations

Ms. Gearhart received her undergraduate degree in Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania. She began her nursing career at Johns Hopkins Hospital where she worked in acute care on Osler 4 General Medicine. Ms. Gearhart continued working in general medicine at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center where she was nurse manager. She received her master's degree in Nursing Administration at UCSF and is certified as a Gerontological Clinical Nurse Specialist by the American Nurses Association Credentialing Center.

Ms. Gearhart is the Administrative Nurse for the Memory and Aging Center and oversees center operations. She is also Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Physiology in the School of Nursing. Ms. Gearhart works closely with both faculty and staff on quality of care initiatives and program development focusing on optimizing the functional status of each patient and maintaining the quality of life for both the patient and caregivers.

In addition to her clinical work, Ms. Gearhart has coordinated the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS) prevention drug trial and focuses her research interests on the study of people at risk for dementia and prevention of decline. She currently administrates several center-wide programs including the California Alzheimer's Disease Center (CADC), the federal Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (ADRC) and the Consortium for Frontotemporal Dementia (CFR). Ms. Gearhart has been instrumental in program development since her start at the MAC in 1998.

Bruce L. Miller, MD

Center Director

Dr. Miller holds the A.W. and Mary Margaret Clausen Distinguished Professorship in Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He directs the busy UCSF dementia center where patients in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond receive comprehensive clinical evaluations. His goal is the delivery of model care to all of the patients who enter the clinical and research programs at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center (MAC).

Dr. Miller is a behavioral neurologist focused on dementia with special interests in brain and behavior relationships as well as the genetic and molecular underpinnings of disease. His work in frontotemporal dementia (FTD) emphasizes both the behavioral and emotional deficits that characterize these patients, while simultaneously noting the visual creativity that can emerge in the setting of FTD. He is the principal investigator of the NIH-sponsored Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC) and program project on FTD called Frontotemporal Dementia: Genes, Imaging and Emotions. He oversees a healthy aging program, which includes an artist in residence program. In addition, he helps lead two philanthropy-funded research consortia, the Tau Consortium and Consortium for Frontotemporal Research, focused on developing treatments for tau and progranulin disorders, respectively. He co-directs the Global Brain Health Institute, which works to reduce the scale and impact of dementia around the world by training and supporting a new generation of leaders to translate research evidence into effective policy and practice. Also, he works with the National Football League to help with the education and assessment of players related to brain health. Dr. Miller teaches extensively, runs the Behavioral Neurology Fellowship at UCSF, and oversees visits of more than 50 foreign scholars every year.

Dr. Miller has received many awards including the Potamkin Award from the American Academy of Neurology, the Raymond Adams Lecture at the American Neurological Association, the Elliot Royer Award from the San Francisco Neurological community, the UCSF Annual Faculty Research Lectureship in Clinical Science, the UCSF Academic Senate Distinction in Mentoring Award, Distinguished Service to Minorities, from Charles Drew University, and the Gene D. Cohen Research Award in Creativity and Aging from the National Center for Creative Aging. In 2016, he was elected to the National Academy of Medicine. He has authored The Human Frontal Lobes, The Behavioral Neurology of Dementia, Frontotemporal Dementia and more than 750 other publications regarding dementia. He has been featured in Fortune magazine and The New York Times, as well as on "Charlie Rose," "PBS NewsHour" and other media. For more than three decades, Dr. Miller has been the scientific director for the philanthropic organization The John Douglas French Alzheimer’s Foundation, a private philanthropic organization that funds basic science research in Alzheimer’s disease.


Collaborations allow us to accomplish more research with fewer resources. Some of our collaborations have broad goals to understand diseases over time while others may have much more specific goals.

Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC)

Self Care

One of the biggest challenges for caregivers is finding the time and energy to take care of your own health. Taking care of yourself will allow you to provide better care for your loved one. Also, you may need to learn to accept help when it’s offered and ask for help when it’s needed.

Taking care of yourself

One of the biggest challenges for caregivers is finding the time and energy to take care of your own health. It can help to attend support groups, talk with friends, get exercise and plenty of sleep, eat well and participate in other activities to help maintain a balance. Taking care of yourself will allow you to provide better care for your loved one. Also, you may need to learn to accept help when it’s offered and ask for help when it’s needed.

Caring for the caregiver

Home Care

Most family caregivers reach a point when they realize they need some level of professional assistance at home. Home care options can range from running errands to skilled medical care.

Home care and home health care include a range of medical and non-medical caregiving services provided in your home. Services can usually be arranged to meet your needs – a few hours a week up to 24 hours a day, seven days a week and could be done by be a single person or a team. If the goal is to reduce your workload, think about hiring help for cleaning the house, running errands or preparing meals. More skilled helpers might be required to help with bathing, dressing or toileting. And finally, registered nurses are available if you need skilled medical care.

Planning Care

Creating a plan for caregiving, and updating it regularly, will help you determine what care you can and cannot provide. It will also help you come up with an answer when someone asks “How can I help?”


The first step in planning care is getting an accurate diagnosis. Seek out a dementia clinic at a university hospital or ask your doctor to refer you to a neurologist with expertise in dementia and neurodegenerative disease.

Educate yourself

Preparing for Your Appointment

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the signs and symptoms of neurodegenerative disease, including dementia, you may want to talk to a doctor about your concerns and observations. The more prepared you are for your appointment, the more you will be able to get out of it. These tips may help you get ready.

Communication tips

A good relationship and clear communication with the doctor will result in the best care for your loved one. Here are some tips to help make talking to your doctor more effective:

Published Results

Read the results from the observational studies and treatment trials we do here at the Memory and Aging Center. These results are all peer-reviewed by experts in field.

The publications listed on this page are a selection of the articles published by the UCSF Memory and Aging Center. If you wish to look for more, you can search PubMED, which is maintained by the National Library of Medicine, or Google Scholar.

2016 Publication Highlights

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