Mirella Díaz-Santos is Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine, Director of Research of the Hispanic Neuropsychiatric Center of Excellence at Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, and Research Psychologist at the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research. By training, she is a neuropsychologist with an expertise in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias working primarily with the Latino/a older adult community and their families. Her clinical-research program focuses on: (1) engaging in community outreach programs to increase knowledge about Alzheimer’s disease, comorbid medical conditions and healthy aging, (2) collaborating with community organizations and UCLA academic centers to improve access to culturally and linguistically congruent assessments and treatments, (3) collaborating with interdisciplinary teams to increase the available Spanish and bilingual cognitive assessments validated and normed in the Latino/a community, (4) using neuroimaging techniques to uncover how the cultural, linguistic, and socio-political nuances of our Latino/a communities changes brain structures and functions, and consequently, the clinical expression of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, and (5) using neuroscience, psychological, socio-cultural-political principles to understand and improve the participation of Latinos/as in Alzheimer’s disease clinical research.
She completed two post-doctoral fellowships at UCLA: a clinical neuropsychology fellowship from the Medical Psychological Assessment Clinical (MPAC)/Cultural Neuropsychology Program (CNP; now part of the Hispanic Neuropsychiatric Center of Excellence), and, a combined research fellowship with the Human Connectome Project – Aging, and the Depression Grand Challenge. Dr. Díaz-Santos is currently the chair of the mentoring and education committee from the Hispanic Neuropsychological Society (HNS), and an active member of UCLA’s Psychiatry Diversity Advisory Committee. Dr. Díaz-Santos completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus, before moving to the States and receiving her doctoral degree in clinical psychology-neuropsychology from Boston University.