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Meet the PI Lecture September 20, 2013, 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm WPIC Auditorium

Brain Structure, Cognitive Function and HIV Disease

  James Becker, PhD

Departments of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neurology
University of Pittsburgh




Dr. Becker completed graduate training in Physiological and Neuro-psychology at Northeastern University under the mentorship of Helen Mahut, PhD and at Johns Hopkins University  in the laboratory of David Olton, PhD.  Prior to his faculty appointment at the University of Pittsburgh in 1984, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Boston VA Hospital and at the University of Connecticut Health Center.  Dr. Becker’s early career at the University of Pittsburgh was in the former Alzheimer Research Program, which later developed into the University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer's Disease Research Center.  In 1987 Dr. Becker and his colleagues collaborated on the development of the Neuropsychology Substudy of the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study, and have continued their work through their research with the Pitt Mens Study (the Pittsburgh site of the MACS) for 26 years.  
With support from the NIMH, NIA and NIDA, Dr. Becker’s research investigates various aspects of the effects of HIV disease on brain structure/function and cognitive disorders.  He was part of the working group to develop the current criteria for the diagnosis of HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorders (HAND) in 2007.  In addition, his research team has developed the largest cohort of HIV-infected individuals with both brain imaging data and as many as 30 years of antecedent clinical information, and also lead the field in the use of novel imaging technologies (i.e., magnetoencephalography) to identify the earliest changes in neuronal function prior to the development of clinical abnormalities in HIV-infected individuals.  Dr. Becker and his collaborators have widely disseminated their work, contributing more than 275 primary research reports, book chapters and review papers to the scientific literature.

Learning Objectives:   At the conclusion of this lecture, participants will be able to

  1. Summarize the criteria for HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorder.
  2. Describe the effects of HIV infection on brain structure.
  3. Describe the contribution of HIV and non-HIV-associated factors on cognitive functions.

Continuing Education Credit: The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine designates this educational activity for a maximum of 1.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits TM. Each physician should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Other health care professionals are awarded .15 continuing education units (CEUs), which are equal to 1.5 contact hours. In accordance with Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education requirements on disclosure, information about relationships of presenters with commercial interests (if any) will be included in materials which will be distributed at the time of the conference.  WPIC is approved by the American Psychological Association to offer continuing education for psychologists.  WPIC maintains responsibility for this program and its contents.  This program is being offered for 1.5 continuing education credits.


For more information on this lecture and other events, please contact Courtney Wallace at