Robert Stern, PhD

Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Director, ADC Clinical Core

RobertSternDr. Stern received his undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University and his Masters and Ph.D. degrees in Clinical Psychology from the University of Rhode Island. He completed his neuropsychology internship training at the Boston VA Medical Center, under the supervision of Dr. Edith Kaplan, and his postdoctoral fellowship training in both neuropsychology and psychoneuroendocrinology at the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine. He was on the faculty at UNC from 1990-1993, where he was Associate Director of the NIMH-funded Mental Health Clinical Research Center and Director of the Neurobehavioral Assessment Core. He then joined the faculty at Brown Medical School, where he was Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology, as well as Director of Neuropsychology and the Memory and Cognitive Assessment Program at Rhode Island Hospital. He was also directed the Brown Clinical Neuropsychology Internship Training Program.  In 2004, Dr. Stern joined the Boston University School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology as an Associate Professor. He was promoted to Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery in 2011. Dr. Stern and his wife, Susan Ryerson, live in Needham, MA and have four children.

Research Interests

Dr. Robert Stern is Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery at Boston University (BU) School of Medicine, where he is also Director of the Clinical Core of the BU Alzheimer’s Disease Center, one of 29 similar centers around the U.S. funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  He also oversees clinical research on the long-term effects of repetitive brain trauma in athletes, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). He has grant funding from the NIH for his work on developing methods of detecting and diagnosing CTE during life.  His other major areas of funded research include the assessment and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, driving and dementia, thyroid-brain relationships, and the cognitive effects of chemotherapy in the elderly.  Dr. Stern has received over 20 NIH and other national and local grants, has published over 250 journal articles, chapters, and abstracts, and is a Fellow of both the American Neuropsychiatric Association and the National Academy of Neuropsychology.  He is on several editorial boards and is on the Medical and Scientific Advisory Boards of the MA/NH Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and Sports Legacy Institute, and is also a member of the Mackey-White Traumatic Brain Injury Committee of the NFL Players Association.  Dr. Stern has appeared frequently in national and international media, including CNN, NPR, ABC (Frontline, GMA, Nightly News), Fox, USA Today, New York Times, and others, for his work on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and Alzheimer’s disease.  He also appears in the feature length documentaries, “Head Games” (2012) and “I Remember Better When I Paint” (2009).

ADC Role

Dr. Stern currently oversees several clinical research studies at both the BU ADC and the Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center (CTE Center), including HOPE, LEGEND, DETECT, and the AthenaAD clinical trial.  He is also the BU Site Principal Investigator and Steering Committee Member for the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS).

Educator and Mentor Roles

Dr. Stern is an active educator.  He has served as a mentor for over 50 graduate and medical students, neuropsychology interns and fellows, and neurology, neurosurgery, and geriatrics residents and fellows.  He is a senior member of several training programs at BUSM, including the Behavioral Neurosciences PhD Program, the Alzheimer’s Disease Translational Research Training Program (National Institute on Aging T32), and the Geriatric Medicine, Dentistry & Psychiatry Fellowship Program.  He is a frequent invited lecturer for national and international medical and scientific conferences and continuing medical education (CME) courses and he is Co-Chair of the annual BUSM Brain Trauma and the Athlete CME conference and the Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy conference, jointly sponsored by BUSM and the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

Neuropsychological Test Development

Dr. Stern has also published on various aspects of cognitive assessment and is the senior author of many widely used neuropsychological tests, including the Neuropsychological Assessment Battery (NAB), the Boston Qualitative Scoring System (BQSS) for the Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure, and the Visual Analog Mood Scales (VAMS).

Clinical Roles

In addition to being a researcher and educator, Dr. Stern is a clinician providing diagnostic and evaluation services for patients with known or suspected Alzheimer’s disease, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, and other neurodegenerative diseases, as well as consultation and education to families dealing with the difficult challenges faced when dealing with these diseases in a loved one.  He is a licensed clinical neuropsychologist on staff at Boston Medical Center and is a member of the Boston University Neurology Associates.

Dr. Stern in the News
See Dr. Stern and other BU CTE Center researchers in the Frontline documentary League of Denial.

Listen to a new podcast on Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) featuring Dr. Stern. This podcast is from Biome, a new feature from BioMed Central. It stems from a new Special Series on CTE edited by Dr. Stern, in the high impact journal, Alzheimer Research and Therapy.

The Traumatic Brain Injury Special Series on CTE, edited by Dr. Stern, is now taking submissions! Please go to the Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy website for more information.


Recent peer-reviewed publications of Dr. Stern’s work include:

Lin AP, Ramadan S, Stern RA, Box HC, Nowinski CJ, Ross BD, Mountford CE. (in press). Changes in the neurochemistry of athletes with repetitive brain trauma: Preliminary results using 2D correlated spectroscopy. Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy

Qiu WQ, Lai A, Mon T, Mwamburi DM, Taylor W, Rosenzweig J, Kowall N, Stern RA, Zhu H, Steffens DC. Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitors and Alzheimer’s disease in the Presence of Apolipoprotein E4 Allele. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2014 Feb; 22(2): 177-85 [PDF]

Qiu WQ, Mwamburi M, Besser LM, Zhu H, Li H, Wallack M, Phillips L, Qiao L, Budson A, Stern, RA, Kowall N. Angiotensin Converting Enzyme inhibitors and the reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease in the absence of Apoliprotein E4 allele. J Alzheimers Dis. 2013; 37(2): 421-28. [PDF]

Seichepine DR, Stamm JM, Daneshvar DH, Riley DO, Baugh CM, Gavett BE, Tripodis Y, Martin B, Chaisson C, McKee AC, Cantu RC, Nowinski CJ, Stern RA. Profile of self-reported problems with executive functioning in college and professional football players. J Neurotrauma. 2013 Jul 15; 30(14): 1299-304. [PDF]

Stern RA, Daneshvar DH, Baugh CM, Seichepine DR, Montenigro PH, Riley DO, Fritts NG, Stamm JM, Robbins CA, McHale L, Simkin I, Stein TD, Alvarez V, Goldstein LE, Budson AE, Kowall NW, Nowinski CJ, Cantu RC, McKee AC. Clinical presentation of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Neurology 2013 Sep 24; 81(13): 1122-29 [Abstract] [Purchase]

Mez J, Stern RA, McKee AC. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy: Where are we and where are we going? Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2013 Dec; 13(12): 407. [Abstract/Purchase]

McKee A, Stern R, Nowinski C, Stein T, Alvare V, Daneshvar D, Lee H, Wojtowicz S, Hall G, Baugh B, Riley D, Kubilis C, Cormier K, Jacobs M, Martin B, Abraham C, Ikezu T, Reichard R, Wolozin B, Budson A, Goldstein G, Kowall N, Cantu R. The spectrum of disease in chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Brain. 2013 Jan; 136(Pt 1): 43-64. [PDF]

Baugh CM, Stamm JM, Riley DO, Gavett BE, Shenton ME, Lin A, Stern RA. (2012). Chronic traumatic encephalopathy: neurodegeneration following repetitive concussive and subconcussive brain trauma. Brain Imaging Behav. 2012 Jun; 6(2): 244–54. [PDF]

Gavett BE, Lou KR, Daneshvar DH, Green RC, Jefferson AL, Stern RA. Diagnostic Accuracy Statistics for Seven Neuropsychological Assessment Battery (NAB) Test Variables in the Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease. Appl Neuropsychol Adult. 2012; 19(2): 108–15. [PDF]

Gavett BE, Stern RA. Dementia has a categorical, not dimensional, latent structure. Psychol Aging. 2012 Sep; 27(3): 791–97; author reply 798–800. [PDF]

Shenton ME, Hamoda HM, Schneiderman JS, Bouix S, Pasternak O, Rathi Y, Stern RA, Zafonte R. A review of magnetic resonance imaging and diffusion tensor imaging findings in mild traumatic brain injury. Brain Imaging Behav. 2012 Jun; 6(2): 137–92. [PDF]

Goldstein LE, Fisher AM, Tagge CA, Zhang X-L, Velisek L, Stern RA, Sullivan JA, McKee AC. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy in blast-exposed military veterans and a blast neurotrauma mouse model. Sci Transl Med. 2012 May 16; 4(134): 134ra60. [PDF]

Niewoehner PM, Henderson RR, Dalchow J, Beardsley TL, Stern RA, Carr DB. Predicting road test performance in adults with cognitive or visual impairment referred to a Veterans Affairs Medical Center driving clinic. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 60(11), 2070–2074. [PDF]

Daneshvar, D. H., Riley, D. O., Nowinski, C. J., McKee, A. C., Stern, R. A., & Cantu, R. C. (2011). Long-term consequences: effects on normal development profile after concussion. Physical medicine and rehabilitation clinics of North America, 22(4), 683–700. [PDF]

Gavett, B. E., Cantu, R. C., Shenton, M., Lin, A. P., Nowinski, C. J., McKee, A. C., & Stern, R. A. (2011). Clinical appraisal of chronic traumatic encephalopathy: current perspectives and future directions. Current opinion in neurology, 24(6), 525–531. [PDF]

Ready, R. E., Carvalho, J. O., Green, R. C., Gavett, B. E., & Stern, R. A. (2011). The structure and validity of self-reported affect in mild cognitive impairment and mild Alzheimer’s disease. International psychogeriatrics / IPA, 1–12. [PDF]

Stern, R. A., Riley, D. O., Daneshvar, D. H., Nowinski, C. J., Cantu, R. C., & McKee, A. C. (2011). Long-term consequences of repetitive brain trauma: chronic traumatic encephalopathy. PM & R: the journal of injury, function, and rehabilitation, 3(10 Suppl 2), S460–467. [PDF]

Daneshvar, D.H., Baugh, C.M., Nowinski, C.J., McKee, A.C., Stern, R.A., & Cantu, R.C. (2011). Helmets and mouth guards:  The role of personal equipment in preventing sport-related concussions. Clinics in Sports Medicine, 30, 145-163. [PDF]

Gavett BE, Stern, RA, McKee AC. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy: A potential late effect of sport-related concussive and subconcussive head trauma. Clin Sports Med. 2011 jan; 30(1): 179-88. [PDF]

Nair, A., Gavett, B.E., Damman, M., Dekker, W., Green, R.C., Mandel, A., Auerbach, S., Steinberg, E., Hubbard, E., and Stern, R.A. (2010). Clock Drawing Test ratings by practicing dementia specialists: Inter-rater reliability and diagnostic accuracy.  Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences. 22, 85-92. [PDF]

McKee, A.C., Gavett, B.E., Stern, R.A., Nowinski, C.J., Cantu, R.C., Kowall, N.W., Perl, D., Hedley-Whyte, E.T., Price, B., Sullivan, C., Morin, P., Lee, H.S., Kubilus, C.A., Daneshvar, D., Wulff, M., & Budson, A.E. (2010). TDP-43 proteinopathy and motor neuron disease in chronic traumatic encephalopathy.  Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology. 69, 918-929. [PDF]

Gavett BE, Ozonoff A, Doktor V, Palmisano J, Nair AK, Green RC, Jefferson AL, Stern RA. (2010). Predicting cognitive decline and conversion to Alzheimer’s disease in older adults using the NAB List Learning test. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 16, 651-660. [PDF]

Gavett BE, Stern RA, Cantu RC, Nowinski CJ, McKee AC. Mild traumatic brain injury: A risk factor for neurodegeneration. Alzheimers Res Ther. 2010 Jun 25; 2(3): 18. [PDF]

Eggermont, L.H., Gavett, B.E., Volkers, K.M., Blankevoort, C.G., Scherder, E.J., Jefferson, A.L., Steinberg, E., Nair, A., Green, R.C., & Stern, R.A. (2010). Lower extremity function in normal cognitive aging, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease.  Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 91, 584-588. [PDF]

McKee, A.C., Cantu, R.C., Nowinski, C.J., Hedley-Whyte, E.T., Lee, H.S., Kubilus, C.A., Gavett, B.E., Romero, R., Budson, A.E., Ryu, H., Santini, V.E., & Stern, R.A. (2009). Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in athletes: Progressive tauopathy following repetitive concussion. Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology, 68¸709-735.

Gavett, B.E., Poon, S.J., Ozonoff, A., Jefferson, A.L., Nair, A.K., Green, R.C., and Stern, R.A. (2009). Diagnostic utility of a list learning test in Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 15, 121-129. [PDF]

Dr. Stern’s curriculum vitae