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Leah Acosta, M.D., M.P.H.

Biographical Summary

AcostaDr. Lealani Mae (Leah) Acosta is an Assistant Professor of Neurology and a board-certified neurologist specializing in neurodegenerative memory disorders. She attended The George Washington University, graduating summa cum laude in psychology. She completed graduate studies in psychology, philosophy, and physiology at Oxford University in Oxford, UK. On returning to the United States, she finished both her medical education and residency training in Neurology at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. She completed fellowship in Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL, under the mentorship of Dr. Kenneth Heilman, focusing on creativity. Her interest in this topic stems in part from her own hobbies of poetry, drawing, and calligraphy. Her range of publications reflects these varied interests, including peer-reviewed research articles and poetry. Dr. Acosta joined the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine faculty in 2013. She completed graduate studies, obtaining a master's in public health at Vanderbilt, with her research focused on error frequency and quality in a task of semantic fluency in patients with mild cognitive impairment.

Research Summary

Dr. Acosta is the principal investigator for the Vanderbilt site of the Aware Study, a clinical trial for an investigational medicine targeting tau in mild cognitive impairment secondary to Alzheimer's disease. At the Vanderbilt Memory & Alzheimer’s Center, Dr. Acosta serves as the study physician for the Memory & Aging Project and for the NOBLE Study of T-817, a clinical trial for a new Alzheimer's drug. As the study physician, she performs clinical evaluations and lumbar punctures for cerebrospinal fluid acquisition, and she reviews laboratory findings. She also is a sub-investigator or study physician for other research projects in Alzheimer's disease and other clinical trials at Vanderbilt. She is one of the Master Clinical Teachers who frequently works one-on-one educating medical students. She has also been instrumental in protocol implementation for evaluation of normal pressure hydrocephalus and the lumbar puncture clinic for the neurology residents.

Selected Publications

Acosta LM, Williamson JB, Heilman KM. Which cheek did Jesus turn? Religion, Brain, and Behavior. November 7, 2012. DOI: 10.1080/2153599X.2012.739738
Acosta LM. Alzheimer’s Pantoum. Neurology 80(19): 1814.
Acosta LM. Caregiver’s Pantoum. Neurology 81(2): 195-196.
Acosta LM, Bennett JA, Heilman KM. Callosal disconnection and limb kinetic apraxia August 23, 2013. DOI: 10.1080/13554794.2013.826683Neurocase.
Acosta LM, Williamson JB, Heilman KM. Agency and the Annunciation. Journal of Religion and Health. May 15, 2013. 10.1007/s10943-013-9725-y
Acosta LM, Goodman IJ, Heilman KM. Unilateral Perseverationnnn. Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology. 2013; 26(4): 181-188. doi: 10.1097/WNN.0000000000000014
Acosta LM, Heilman KM. Visual artistic creativity and the brain. Prog Brain Res. 2013; 204:19-43.DOI:10.1016/B978-0-444-63287-6.00002-6.
Acosta, LM. Creativity and neurological disease. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2014; 14: 464. DOI: 10.1007/s11910-014-0464-6
Acosta LM, Williamson JB, Heilman KM. Which cheek did the resurrected Jesus turn? Journal of Religion and Health. 2014. DOI: 10.1007/s10943-014-9945-9.
Acosta LM. Left MCA Stroke Sonnet: The Melody Bereft. Neurology. 2013; 81(20): 1799. DOI: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000435565.92609.65
Acosta, LM. Frontotemporal Dementia Pantoum: My Mother’s Keeper. Neurology. 2014; 82 (21): e176-177. DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000000459
Jefferson AL, Gifford KA, Acosta LM, Bell SP, Donahue MJ, Davis LT, Gottlieb J, Gupta DK, Hohman TJ, Lane EM, Libon DJ, Mendes LA, Niswender K, Pechman KR, Rane S, Ruberg FL, Su YR, Zetterberg H, Liu D. The Vanderbilt Memory & Aging Project: Study design and baseline cohort overview. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 2016; 52(2): 539-59.
Acosta, LM. A sacrifice greater than lunch. Neurology. 2018; 90: 893-894.
Osborn KE, Samuels LR, Liu D, Moore EE, Cambronero FE, Acosta LMY, Bell SP, Babicz MA, Gordon EA, Pechman KR, Gifford KA, Hohman TJ, Blennow K, Zetterberg H, Jefferson AL. Cerebrospinal fluid b-amyloid42 and neurofilament light relate to white matter hyperintensities. Neurobiology of Aging. (In press). PMC pending.