Dr Mario Parra Rodriguez

Senior Lecturer


Personal statement

Research interests: Mechanisms underlying normal and abnormal cognitive ageing. Cognitive and behavioural changes in neurodegenerative diseases, with emphasis on Alzheimer’s Disease. The investigation of functional brain changes (fMRI, EEG, ERP, Brain Connectivity) in the course of dementing illnesses and other brain disorders. Development of cognitive tests for the early detection of dementia with emphasis on Alzheimer’s disease. Development of technology-based intervention procedures to enhance functions of everyday life in older people who are experiencing cognitive decline. I also have an interest in the biopsychosocial mechanisms of abnormal behaviours (e.g., violence) in the context of social conflicts.  

Biography: I graduated as a Medical Doctor in 1993 and as a Clinical Neurophysiologist in 1997. I worked at the Cuban Neuroscience Centre and at different University Hospitals in Cuba and in Colombia. During my clinical work I focused on neuropsychological and neurophysiological aspects of dementia syndromes and other neurological disorders. I taught neuroscience related subjects in the field of medicine and psychology. My motivation for teaching and research led me to a major career change into academia. This started with my PhD in 2005 at the University of Edinburgh and continued with three Postdoctoral Fellowships and a position as a Clinical Studies Officer within the NHS Scotland. I was as an Assistant Professor in Psychology at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh from 2015 until 2018. I am currently a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

Prizes and awards

Nuffield Council on Bioethics, New in-depth inquiry: the future of ageing
International Neuropsychological Society Arthur Benton Mid-Career Research Award
Assessor Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Healthy Ageing Challange
Coordinator of the Latin American and Caribbean Consortium on Dementia (LAC-CD).
Scientific Board Director
Honorary Fellow, School of Psychology, Philosophy and Language Science, Edinburgh University

More prizes and awards


Functional assessment of cognitively impaired older adults : are we asking the right questions?
Calia Clara, Pickett Eleanor, O'Donald Freddie, Parra Mario A
Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2020 (2020)
Does feature binding account for functional decline in patients with mild cognitive impairment? Evidence from the details of function of everyday life questionnaire (DoFEL)
Calia Clara, O'Donald Freddie, Pickett Eleanor, Parra Mario A
Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2020 (2020)
Cultural validity of cognitive markers for Alzheimer's disease (AD) : evidence for global strategies
Parra Mario A, Custodio Nilton, Montesinos Rosa, Pintado Maritza, Reynoso-Guzman Wylliams, Slachevsky Andrea
Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2020 (2020)
Patterns of brain atrophy in dysexecutive amnestic mild cognitive impairment raise confidence about prodromal AD dementia
Junquera Fernández Almudena, García-Zamora Estefania, Parra Mario A, Fernandez Guinea Sara
Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2020 (2020)
Impact of intrathecal cell therapy with autologous stromal cells on short-term memory binding in early Alzheimer's disease : one-year follow-up assessment of two cases
Fernandez Guinea Sara, Zurita Mercedes, Mucientes Jorge, García-Zamora Estefania, González Marqués Javier, Parra Mario A, Vaquero Jesús
Alzheimer's Association International Conference (2020)
Visual short-term memory relates to tau and amyloid burdens in preclinical autosomal dominant Alzheimer's disease
Norton D J, Parra Rodriguez M A, Sperling R A, Baena A, Guzman-Velez E, Jin D S, Andrea N, Khang J, Schultz A, Rentz DM, Pardilla-Delgado E, Fuller J, Johnson K, Reiman EM, Lopera F, Quiroz YT
Alzheimer's research & therapy (2020)

More publications

Professional activities

Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2020
Latin American and Caribbean Consortium on Dementia (LAC-CD) Annual Meeting
Manual for best practices for the dementia diagnosis
Role of nurses in addressing modifiable risk factors for early Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment
Neuroscience and Complex Systems Networking Event
Glasgow University Psychology Society Conference

More professional activities


Novel technologies to support older adults with cognitive impairment
Parra Rodriguez, Mario (Academic) Whear, Sarah (Principal Investigator)
Vacation Scholarships Awarded by Carnegie Trust for a 2020 Summer Project (my Lab (12 weeks)
08-Jan-2020 - 24-Jan-2020
Novel electrophysiological markers for the early detection of Alzheimer´s disease
Parra Rodriguez, Mario (Principal Investigator) Clark, Ruaridh (Co-investigator) Escudero, Javier (Co-investigator) Smith, Keith (Co-investigator)
I have set up a new collaboration between the University of Strathclyde, University of Edinburgh and Latin America (Dr Ruaridh Clark, Research Associate from our Electronic and Electrical Engineering department of our Faculty of Engineering, Dr Javier Escudero from the Digital Communications Research Institute at Edinburgh University and Dr Keith Smith from the Usher Institute at Edinburgh University). We will apply novel brain network approaches to data collected in labs from our UK- Latin American Brain Connectivity Research Network (UL-BCRN).
VETSA Longitudinal Twin Study of Cognition and Aging (VETSA 4)
Parra Rodriguez, Mario (Research Co-investigator) S. Kremen, William (Principal Investigator)
This is a collaboration with Dr William S. Kremen, from the University of California San Diego. The project funded by NIH/NIA Grant Number: R01 AG050595-05, incorporates the methodology I developed (visual-short term memory binding tests) to assess older people at different risk levels of dementia. My role in the project is to provide advice regarding the administration and interpretation of this methodology.
04-Jan-2020 - 31-Jan-2025
Multi-partner consortium to expand dementia research in Latin America
Parra Rodriguez, Mario (Research Co-investigator) Ibanez, Agustin (Principal Investigator)
The Consortium aims to combine genomic, neuroimaging and behavioral (clinical, cognitive, socioeconomic) data to improve dementia characterization and identify novel inroads to treat neurodegeneration in diverse populations.
01-Jan-2020 - 31-Jan-2025
US-South American Initiative for Genetic-Neural-Behavioral Interactions in Human Neurodegenerative Research
Parra Rodriguez, Mario (Research Co-investigator) Ibanez, Agustin (Principal Investigator)
We combine a R01 funding (“US-South American initiative for genetic-neural-behavioral interactions in human neurodegenerative research”, R01 AG057234) with additional support. The R01 project will provide a basic platform anchored in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Peru, that is supplemented with clinical research expertise from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Memory and Aging Center, genomics expertise from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and bioinformatics infrastructure and expertise from Hudson Alpha. This proposal is extended to collaborators in Mexico and Chile. We also will assess novel families across LAC via the Latin America and Caribbean consortium on Dementia (LAC-CD). In addition to the R01 strategy based on patients with familial and sporadic presentations tested for genetic risks (risk scores), it would also support recruitment of AD and FTD families with an autosomal dominant-like presentation from the LAC-CD. This platform will facilitate numerous research projects from additional groups of the LAC-CD; leverage regional expertise in aging and dementia to establish a multidisciplinary, collaborative consortium of diverse, international clinicians and researchers; and promote the development of the next generation of aging and dementia investigators in LAC. In this expanded framework, we would first screen all patients for known AD/FTD/ALS genes and then, for those who screen negative for known genetic causes of disease, we will perform whole-genome sequencing (WGS) for gene discovery. By leveraging the R01 efforts and extending the project scope to include Mexico, Chile, and novel families from LAC-CD, we will establish a network of AD and FTD families and clinicians/researchers, enabling large-scale research to identify novel genetic and SES contributions to AD and FTD in diverse populations. By establishing this collaborative framework, which capitalizes on unique regional populations, our proposal can consolidate a LAC-based platform for future translational research and assessment. Our long-term goal is to identify the unique genetic and SES factors that drive AD and FTD presentation in LAC relative to the US, including risk factors, cognitive profiles and brain imaging. To this end, we will establish a first-in-class cohort anchored in six LAC (Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru), compared to US samples (totaling > 4200 participants, including 2100 controls, 1050 AD patients, and 1050 FTD patients), led by world-renowned leaders in dementia research. We will couple standardized clinical assessments with innovative analytical techniques to account for heterogeneity in these diverse populations. By combining standardized genetic, neuroimaging, and behavioral (cognitive and SES) measures, we will test the underlying hypothesis that there are unique risk factors for AD and FTD in LAC (e.g., genetic risk factors enriched in LAC populations; underlying cognitive and neural vulnerability due to SES) compared to US populations. Our plan to recruit large numbers of controls and patients across these diverse populations will provide excellent opportunities to identify new genetic and SES risks for AD and FTD. In addition, the machine learning strategies we have developed to reduce the impact of background heterogeneity will allow us to refine the accuracy of our association studies.
01-Jan-2019 - 30-Jan-2024
Screening patients at different risk levels of dementia using the visual short-term memory binding test
Parra Rodriguez, Mario (Co-investigator) Cucca, Francesco (Principal Investigator) Della Sala, Sergio (Co-investigator)
I will provide the computer software for a cognitive test of temporary feature binding test to the Sardinia Group. I will support to set up of the test at the Sardinia, training the Sardinia Group staff in the use of the test and guidance in the interpretation of results from use of the test.

More projects