Research Expertise & Professional Interests
Alexa Beiser has been on the faculty at Boston University School of Public Health since 1985, engaged in teaching and collaborative public health research; she co-developed the doctoral program in biostatistics; co-directed the biostatistics program from 2000-2004, and served as Associate Chair for Education from 2015-2018. She formerly taught and coordinated the sections of Introduction to Statistical Computing. For more than twenty-five years, Dr. Beiser has served as the lead biostatistician for the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) neurology group, examining risk factors and prevalence and incidence of clinical and sub-clinical neurological outcomes including MRI and PET measures of brain structure, cognitive performance, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy. Dr. Beiser currently leads the FHS neurology group data management team, responsible for surveillance and tracking of incident dementia, for supervision of recruitment of participants for various grant-funded studies, and for management of data collected at FHS as well as those measured or processed at other institutions (e.g., brain MRI or PET scans); and the FHS neurology group biostatistics team of six biostatisticians. Decades of examining risk factors for neurological diseases has naturally led to studying factors associated with accelerated brain aging. Dr. Beiser has coauthored FHS publications relating risk factors including midlife vascular factors, plasma homocysteine, plasma leptin levels, cardiac index, red blood cell omega-3 fatty acids, metabolic dysregulation, visceral fat, air pollution; serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor; and insulin-like growth factor 1, to measures of brain aging. Dr. Beiser also has made use of the richness of the multigenerational Framingham data to relate documented parental dementia and stroke to offspring stroke, cognitive performance, and MRI measures of brain structure. In investigations of clinical neurological endpoints, she has applied competing risk analyses and has also been able to investigate temporal trends in prevalent and incident neurological disease due to the availability of event surveillance over many decades. In all these studies, Dr. Beiser plays a key role in project conceptualization, is responsible for supervision of statistical data management, analysis, and interpretation of results, and contributes to manuscript preparation and critical review.