Lealani Mae (Leah) Acosta, MD, MPH

Assistant Professor

Dr. Lealani Mae (Leah) Acosta is an Assistant Professor of Neurology and a board-certified neurologist specializing in neurodegenerative memory disorders. Currently she serves as co-editor of the Humanities section of the journal Neurology. 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. 

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 creative writing, primarily poetry.

Research Information

Dr. Acosta is the principal investigator for Alector Frontotemporal Dementia clinical trial in patients with the progranulin gene mutation and another Alzheimer's disease clinical trial. At the Vanderbilt Memory & Alzheimer’s Center, Dr. Acosta serves as the study physician for the Memory & Aging Project. As the study physician, she performs clinical evaluations, lumbar punctures for cerebrospinal fluid acquisition, and 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, such as the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, the MIND (Memory Improvement through Nicotine Dosing) Study, and the Bringing to Light the Risk Factors and Incidence of Neuropsychological Dysfunction in ICU Survivors (BRAIN-2). She has served as a Master Clinical Teacher, working one-on-one educating medical students, and currently serves as a Portfolio Coach for 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.