Dr. Ann McKee: How I Got Interested in Neuropathology

Dr. Ann McKee explains her interest in neuropathology and why the study of brain tissue is the "final frontier." Her work covers conditions such as Alzheimer's. Parkenson's, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

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Neuropathology, the study of brain tissue, is still the final frontier. I mean you can be fairly certain what a person has died from. You can do an extensive and very complicated tests, but you can never be 100% sure. And that’s all true for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and Lewy bodies and chronic traumatic encephalopathy than for any other disorder. You can’t – it’s the gold standard of diagnosis. It’s the absolute last word. And so that’s part of the reason I got interested in it. I was a neurologist. I saw patients for many years. I started out actually as an intern and then went into neurology. But when I had a year of some pretty intense neuropathology during my neurology training and I became fascinated with understanding the real basis for why that person behaved the way they did or why they were affected the way they were. And after I’d had that window into what was really going on, I could never get away from it. So I then trained in neuropathology so that I could always understand the patients by understanding their brain. I’ve studied thousands of brains. I can’t keep track, but I don’t know. Many, many thousands. And for the last 25 years I’ve been really involved in a very complex analysis of the brain. So we do a very detailed exam and we really look for many, many disorders. It’s very comprehensive. It’s a research analysis, which looks for everything under the sun, so we can really understand what’s going on.
Posted on BrainLine January 11, 2019.

This video was produced by BrainLine thanks to generous support from the Infinite Hero Foundation.

About the author: Ann McKee, MD

Ann McKee, MD is the chief neuropathologist for the Framingham Heart Study and the Boston University-based Centenarian Study. She is also the chief neuropathologist for the Boston-based Veterans Administration Medical Centers and for the Sports Legacy Institute.

Ann McKee