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Nikolaos Scarmeas, MD, MS

  • Associate Professor of Clinical Neurology (in the Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center and the Taub Institute)
Nikolaos Scarmeas, MD, MS

Dr Scarmeas received his MD degree from the Medical School Of National And Capodistrian University Of Athens in 1992. He subsequently completed a 2-year military service and was then employed as a physician in primary care of rural areas of Greece. Dr Scarmeas came to the US in 1996 and completed a Neurology residency training at Columbia University Medical Center in New York in 2000. He then had a 2-year clinical-research fellowship in the division of Aging and Dementia of the department of Neurology of Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. After completing his fellowship Dr. Scarmeas received a Masters degree in neurology_biostatistics from the Mailman School of Public Health Columbia University. Since 2008, Dr Scarmeas is Associate Professor of Neurology at Columbia University and is involved in clinical, teaching and research activities in the Department of Neurology and the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center.

Areas of interest include lifestyle, nutrition, diet, cognitive reserve, social activities, intellectual activities, physical activities, exercise, dementia, Alzheimer's, risk factor, protective factor, epidemiology, prognosis

Departmental Appointments

  • Department of Neurology
    Division of Cognitive Neuroscience

Languages Spoken

(in addition to English)

  • Greek

Education & Training

  • MD, 1986 Medicine, National University of Athens Greece
  • MS, 2003 Clinical Research Methods, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health
  • Internship: 1997 Long Island College Hospital
  • Residency: 2000 Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center
  • Fellowship: Columbia University Medical Center


  • Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center
  • Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain

Past Positions

• Military Service; Officer for the Greek Army, May 1992-April 1995.
• Medical services to campings of “National Federation of Parents and Guardians Guilds of Individuals with special needs” employed by the Greek State-Ministry of Health Welfare, Summer 1995.
• Primary care medicine social service at rural areas employed by the Greek State-Ministry of Heath Welfare, September 1995-May 1996.

• 401 General Army Hospital of Athens, Internal Medicine Residency, June 1994-April 1995.
• Long Island College Hospital, Brooklyn New York, Internal Medicine Residency, July 1996-June 1997.
• Columbia University Medical Center, New York, Neurology Residency, July 1997-June 2000.

• Clinical Research Fellowship in Aging and Dementia at the Taub Institute for Research in Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain, Division of Aging and Dementia, Department of Neurology, Columbia University Medical Center, July 2000-June 2002.
• Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology, Columbia University, September 2002-July 2008.
• Assistant Attending in Neurology, New York Presbyterian Hospital and New York State Psychiatric Institute, September 2002-July 2008.
• Associate Professor of Clinical Neurology, Department of Neurology, Columbia University July 2008 - present.


• American Academy of Neurology (since 1998).
• Society for Neuroscience.
• Cognitive Neuroscience Society.
• American Neurological Association (since 2009).
• Alzheimer’s Association International Society to Advance Alzheimer Research and Treatment (ISTAART) (since 2009).

• Consulting role (funding prioritization and decisions on announcement of Request for Applications [RFA]) for the National Institute of Health (NIH), National Institute of Aging (NIA): workshop on “Cognitive / Brain Reserve and Aging”; Bethesda; August 2003).
• The American Academy of Neurology has assigned to the United Council of Neurological Subspecialties the duty of organizing a Geriatric Neurology subspecialty certification examination. Invited to serve (together with 9 other colleagues) to the Geriatric Neurology Examination Committee. Examination questions – content finalized; will be given for the 1st time in 2009.
• Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, Scientific Advisory Committee (since 2008).
• Oldways Mediterranean Foods Alliance, Scientific Advisor (since 2010).
• Joint Program for Neurodegenerative Diseases; Academic Opinion leader committee for formulation of European Strategic Research Agenda (Paris March 2011, Rome June 2011).
• Spanish Longitudinal Study of Aging; Scientific Advisory Board (2010).
• Invitation by the Center for Mental Health Services for participation into the National Federal Advisory Committee (FACA; established by NAPA) panel on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services (Rockville, MD, December 2011).
• Joint Program for Neurodegenerative Diseases (JPND); Call Steering Committee (CSC); Bonn, 2012.
• Joint Program for Neurodegenerative Diseases (JPND); Invited comments on Action Group draft report in relation to future research strategy of JPND. March 2013.
• Nominated by the American Academy of Neurology to the American Psychiatric Association as a clinical research expert towards development of clinical practice guidelines; March 2014.
• Scientific Advisory Board of VPH-DARE@IT [17 million €, EU-funded FP7 project, focused on advanced IT systems supporting earler differential diagnosis of dementia).sed on advanced IT systems supporting earler differential diagnosis of dementia).

Global Health Countries

  • Greece

Honors & Awards

• Arnold P. Gold Foundation Award for Humanism and Excellence in Teaching For an outstanding resident role model. Selected by Columbia P & S class of 2000.
• Margaret and Stanley Lesse Fellowship in Neuropsychiatry Award for the Academic years 2000-2001 and 2001-2002.

Research Interests

  • nutrition, diet and cognition - dementia
  • lifestyle, social intellectual activities and cognition - dementia
  • physical activities, exercise and cognition dementia
  • mechanims relating nutrition, lifestyle, cognitive reserve factors with cognition - dementia


Alzheimer’s Association IIRG-09-133014   Scarmeas (PI)              09/01/09 – 08/31/12
Mediterranean Diet and AD in the Mediterranean region.          Role: P-I

NIA RO1 AG028506  Scarmeas (PI)         3/1/08 – 2/28/13
Mediterranean Diet and Other Dietary Patterns in Alzheimer’s Disease      Role: P-1

NIA P01AG07232                            Mayeux (PI)   2/1/89 – 6/30/09
The Epidemiology of Dementia in an Urban Community. Genetic and environmental causes of Alzheimer’s Disease and related diseases.     Role:  Co-I
NIA P50AG08702           Shelanski (PI)                         9/29/89 – 5/31/10
Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. Diagnostics and assessment of patients with
Alzheimer’s disease.        Role:  Co-I

NIA RO1 AG07370     NIA RO1 AG07370    Stern (PI)   12/01/06 – 11/30/11
Predictors of Severity in Alzheimer’s Disease. A three-center study. Determine predictor models for the varied course of AD across patients.  A three-center study.    Role: Co-I 
NIA R01AG16206                  Manly (PI)                             7/1/99 – 8/30/09
Cognitive Test Performance of African American Elders. A longitudinal study designed to examine the effect of cultural and educational factors on neuropsychological test performance among African Americans elders.      Role:  Co-I

NIH R01 AG26158                Stern (PI)   09/15/04 – 07/31/09
Imaging of Cognition, Learning and Memory in Aging. The aims of this study are to better undersand the interactions of memory load and aging on brain activity. Role: Co-I

DARPA   DAAD19-02-1-0047               Stern (PI)                    3/15/02 – 12/31/07
Effect of Sleep Deprivation on fMRI-Measured Cognitive Networks. The major goals of this project are to study the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive networks needed to carry out recognition tasks.        Role: Co-I

Alzheimer’s Association IIRG-04-1353       Scarmeas (PI)  07/01/04 – 06/31/07
Early AD detection via arterial spin labeling MRI and covariance analyses.        Role: P-I

NIH/NIA RO1 AG16714       Stern (PI)   05/01/99 – 04/30/05
Converging Behavioral & Imaging Approaches to Implicit Memory in Aging. Cognitive
experimental and fMRI studies of priming in normal aging.   Role: Co-I 

NIA RO1 AG14671       Stern (PI)   09/30/97 – 08/31/03
Imaging Compensation and Reserve in Alzheimer’s Disease. Evaluating individual differences in brain network expression (using PET and FMRI) that might allow people to cope with disease pathology        Role: Co-I 

NIA RO1 AG07370       Stern (PI)   07/01/99 – 06/30/05
Predictors of Severity in Alzheimer’s Disease. Determine predictor models for the varied course of AD across patients.  A three-center study.    Role: Co-I 

DARPA DAAD19-02-01-0047   Stern (PI)    03/15/02 – 12/31/05
Effect of Sleep Deprivation on fMRI-Measured Cognitive Networks. The major goals of this project are to study the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive networks needed to carry out recognition tasks.                  Role: Co-I

Pfizer IRB # 9561.    Scarmeas N. – Hirsch L. (PIs)            2000 – 2003 Administration of Donepezil in patients with Epilepsy and memory problems: a double blind controlled study.                          Role: PI

NIH Grants


    Sep 1 2011 - May 31 2017


    Mar 1 2008 - Feb 28 2014


    Oct 1 2009 - Sep 30 2012


1. Scarmeas N., Levy G., Tang M., Manly J., Stern Y.: Influence of leisure activity on the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. Neurology 2001; 57: 2236-2242.
2. Scarmeas N., Brandt J., Albert M., Devanand D., Marder K., Bell K., Ciappa A., Tycko B., Stern Y.: Association between APOE genotype and psychiatric symptoms  in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Neurology 2002; 58:1182-1188.
3. Scarmeas N., Shih T., Ottman R., Stern Y., Rowland LP.: Premorbid weight, body mass index, and athletics in amyatrophic lateral sclerosis and related syndromes. Neurology 2002; 59: 773-775.
4. Scarmeas N., Zarahn E., Anderson K., Habeck C., Hilton J., Flynn J., Marder K., Bell K., Sackeim H., Van Heertum R., Moeller J., Stern Y.: Association of life activities with cerebral blood flow in Alzheimer’s disease: Implications for the cognitive reserve hypothesis. Archives of Neurology 2003; 60: 359-365.
5. Scarmeas N., Stern Y.: Cognitive reserve and lifestyle. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology 2003; 25(5): 625-633.
6. Scarmeas N., Zarahn E., Anderson K.E., Hilton J., Flynn J., Van Heertum R., Sackeim H., Stern Y. Cognitive reserve modulates functional brain responses during memory tasks: a PET study in healthy young and elderly subjects. Neuroimage 2003; 19: 1215-1227.
7. Scarmeas N., Rowland LP. Premorbid weight, body mass, and varsity athletics in ALS. Neurology 2003; 61; 7: 1024.
8. Scarmeas N., Habeck C., Anderson K., Stern Y.: APOE genotype and Cerebral Blood Flow in healthy young subjects. JAMA 2003; 290; 12: 1581-1582.
9. Scarmeas N., Zarahn E., Anderson K.E., Honig L.S., Park A., Hilton J., Flynn J., Sackeim H., Stern Y. Cognitive reserve mediated modulation of Positron Emission Tomography activations during memory tasks in Alzheimer’s disease. Archives of Neurology 2004; 61: 73-78.
10. Scarmeas N. Life activities, PET and cognitive reserve in Alzheimer’s disease. Research and Practice in Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias 2004; 7, 97-102.
11. Scarmeas N., Honig L. Frontal lobe dementias. Clinical  Neuroscience Research 2004; 3: 449-460.
12. Scarmeas N., Stern Y. Cognitive Reserve – Implications for diagnosis and prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease. Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports 2004; 4(5): 374-380.
13. Scarmeas N., Habeck C., Zarahn E., Anderson K., Park A., Hilton J., Pelton G., Tabert M., Honig L., Moeller J., Devanand D., Stern Y. Covariance PET patterns in early Alzheimer’s disease and subjects with cognitive impairment but no dementia: utility in group discrimination and correlations with functional performance. Neuroimage 2004; 23(1): 35-45.
14. Scarmeas N., Anderson K., Hilton J., Park A., Habeck C., Flynn J., Tycko B., Stern Y. APOE dependent PET patterns of brain activation in Alzheimer’s disease. Neurology 2004; 63:913-915.
15. Scarmeas N., Hadjigeorgiou G.M., Papadimitriou A, Dubois B., Sarazin M., Brandt J., Albert M., Marder K., Bell K., Honig L., Wegesin D., Stern Y. Motor signs during the course of Alzheimer’s disease. Neurology 2004; 63: 975-982.
16. Scarmeas N., Habeck C., Anderson K., Hilton J., Devanand D., Pelton G., Tabert M., Flynn J., Park A., Ciappa A., Tycko B., Stern Y. Altered PET functional brain responses in cognitively intact elderly at risk for Alzheimer’s disease (carriers of the 4 allele). American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 2004; 12: 596-605.
17. Scarmeas N., Albert M., Brandt J., Blacker D., Hadjigeorgiou G.M., Papadimitriou A, Dubois B., Sarazin M., Wegesin D., Marder K., Bell K., Honig L., Stern Y. Motor signs predict poor outcomes in Alzheimer’s disease. Neurology 2005; 64(10):1696-703.
18. Scarmeas N., Habeck C., Hilton J., Anderson K., Flynn J., Park A., Stern Y. APOE-related activations in cerebral activations even at college-age. Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry 2005; 76: 1440-1444.
19. Scarmeas N., Brandt J., Albert M., Hadjigeorgiou G.M., Papadimitriou A, Dubois B., Sarazin M., Devanand D., Honig L., Marder K., Bell K., Wegesin D., Blacker D., Stern Y. Hallucinations and delusions are associated with worse outcomes in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Archives of Neurology 2005; 62: 1601-1608.
20. Scarmeas N., Stern Y. fMRI evidence of compensatory mechanisms in older adults at genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Neurology 2005; 65: 1514-1515.
21. Scarmeas N., Albert S., Manly J., Stern Y. Education and rates of cognitive decline in incident Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry 2006; 77: 308-16.
22. Scarmeas N., Stern Y. Imaging studies and APOE genotype in persons at risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Current Psychiatry Reports 2006; 8; 1; 11-17.
23. Scarmeas N., Stern Y. Delusions and Hallucinations are associated with worse outcome in Alzheimer’s disease; Archives of Neurology 2006;63:627.
24. Scarmeas N., Stern Y., Tang MX. Mayeux R., Luchsinger JA. Mediterranean diet and risk for Alzheimer's disease. Annals of Neurology 2006; 59: 912-921.
25. Cosentino S., Scarmeas N., Albert S., Stern Y. Verbal fluency predicts mortality in Alzheimer’s disease. Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology 2006 Sep;19(3):123 - 129.
26. Scarmeas N., Stern Y., Mayeux R., Luchsinger JA. Mediterranean diet, Alzheimer’s disease and vascular mediation. Archives of Neurology 2006; 63: 1709-1717.
27. Scarmeas N. Invited Commentary: Lipoproteins and Dementia: is it the Apolipoprotein A-I? American Journal of Epidemiology 2007; 165: 993 – 997.
28. Scarmeas N., Luchsinger J., Mayeux R., Stern Y. Mediterranean diet and Alzheimer’s disease mortality. Neurology 2007; 69: 1084 - 1093.
29. Scarmeas N., Louis E. Mediterranean Diet and Essential Tremor: a case-control study. Neuroepidemiology 2007; 29: 170 - 177.
30. Scarmeas N., Brandt J., Blacker D., Albert M., Hadjigeorgiou G., Dubois B., Devanand D., Honig L., Stern Y. Disruptive Behavior as predictor in Alzheimer’s disease. Archives of Neurology 2007; 64 (12): 1755 - 1761.
31. Scarmeas N., Luchsinger J., Mayeux R., Schupf N., Stern Y. Mediterranean diet and mortality in a US population. Archives of Internal Medicine 2008; 168; 16: 1823-1824.
32. Scarmeas N., Stern Y., Mayeux R., Manly J., Schupf N., Luchsinger J. Mediterranean diet and Mild Cognitive Impairment. Archives of Neurology 2009; 66 (2): 236-22.
33. Scarmeas N., Honig L., Choi H., Cantero J., Brandt J., Blacker D., Albert M., Amatniek J., Marder K., Bell K., Hauser A., Stern Y. Seizures in Alzheimer’s disease: who, when, and how common? Archives of Neurology 2009; 66 (8):992-997.
34. Scarmeas N., Luchsinger J., Schupf N., Brickman A., Cosentino S., Tang M., Stern Y. Physical activity, diet and risk of Alzheimer’s disease. JAMA 2009; 302 (6): 627 – 637.
35. Feart C., Samieri C., Rondeau V., Amieva H., Portet F., Dartigues J.F., Scarmeas N., Barberger-Gateau P. Adherence to a Mediterranean Diet, cognitive decline, and risk of dementia. JAMA 2009; 302 (6): 638 – 648.
36. Gu, Y., Nieves J.W., Stern Y., Luchsinger J. Scarmeas N. Food Combination and Alzheimer Disease Risk: A Protective Diet. Archives of Neurology: 2010;67(6): 699-706.
37. Gu Y., Luchsinger J., Stern Y., Scarmeas N. Mediterranean diet, inflammatory and metabolic biomarkers, and risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Alzheimers disease; 2010; 22 (2): 483-492.
38. Cosentino S.A., Stern Y., Sokolov E., Scarmeas N., Manly J.J., Tang M.X., Scupf N., Mayeux R.P. Plasma β-amyloid and cognitive decline. Archives of Neurology 2010; 67(12): 1485 -1490.
39. Scarmeas N., Luchsinger J., Stern Y., Gu Y., He J., DeCarli C., Brown T., Brickman A.M. Mediterranean diet and magnetic resonance imaging – assessed cerebrovascular disease. Annals of Neurology 2011; 69 (2): 257 -268.
40. Scarmeas N., Luchsinger J.A., Brickman A.M., Cosentino S., Schupf N., Xin-Tang M., Gu Y., Stern Y. Physical activity and Alzheimer’s disease course. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 2011; 19 (5): 471 – 481.
41. Gu Y., Nieves J., Luchsinger J., Scarmeas N. Dietary inflammation factor rating system and risk of Alzheimer Disease in elders. Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders 2011; 25 (2); 149-154.
42. Gu Y. Scarmeas N. Dietary patterns in Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive aging. Current Alzheimer’s Research 2011, 8, 510-519.
43. Scarmeas N. Olive oil: pertinent to neurologic diseases too? Neurology 2011; 8 (5): 412-413.
44. Gardener H., Wright C.B., Gu Y., Demmer R.T., Boden-Albala B., Elkind M., Sacco R.L., Scarmeas N. Mediterranean-style diet and risk of ischemic stroke, myocardiac infarction, and vascular death: the Northern Manhattan Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2011; 94 (6): 1458 – 1464.
45. Tangney C.C., Scarmeas N. The good the bad and the ugly? How blood nutrient concentrations may reflect cognitive performance. Neurology 2012; 78: 230 - 231.
46. Gardener H., Scarmeas N., Gu Y., Boden-Albala B., Elkind M.S., Sacco R.L., DeCarli C., Wright C.B., Mediterranean diet and white matter hyperintensity volume in the Nortern Manhattan study. Archives of Neurology 2012; 69 (2): 251 – 256.
47. Alcalay R.N., Gu Y., Mejia-Santana H., Cote L., Marder K.S., Scarmeas N. The association between Mediterranean Diet adherence and Parkinson’s disease. Movement Disorders 2012; 27 (6): 771 – 774.
48. Gu Y., Schupf N., Cosentino S.A., Luchsinger J.A., Scarmeas N. Nutrient intake and plasma β-amyloid. Neurology 2012; 78: 1832 – 1840.

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