Professor of Neurology and founding member of the Department of Cognitive Science
Peter J. Whitehouse, MD, PhD is Professor of Neurology as well as former Professor of Cognitive Science, Psychiatry, Neuroscience, Psychology, Nursing, Organizational Behavior, Bioethics and History. He received his undergraduate degree from Brown University and MD-PhD (Psychology) from The Johns Hopkins University (with field work at Harvard and Boston Universities, followed by a Fellowship in Neuroscience and Psychiatry and a faculty appointment at Hopkins. With colleagues he discovered fundamental aspects of the cholinergic pathology in Alzheimer’s and related dementias, which lead to the development of our current generation drugs to treat these conditions. In 1986 he moved to Case Western Reserve University to develop the University Alzheimer Center, now a part of the University Neurological Institute at University Hospitals Case Medical Center. This center became one of the ten best funded in the world. He continued his own life-long learning with a Masters Degree in Bioethics and Fellowship in Organizational Behavior at Case. In 1999, he founded with his wife, Catherine, The Intergenerational School, a unique public multiage, community school. This award-winning school serves learners of all ages from Cleveland and the surrounding suburbs and is committed to excellence in life-long learning and spirited citizenship. He has been active in SAGES (Seminar Approach to General Education and Scholarship) and CSP (College Scholars Program). He developed courses for undergraduates focusing on the theme of wisdom. He helped develop the new medical school curriculum and teaches in various programs including Foundations of Clinical Medicine, a longitudinal program focusing on professionalism and leadership. He plans to spend the rest of his life developing and participating in innovative learning environments that promote the creation of collective wisdom and contribute to environmental sustainability and social justice.
He is clinically active at University Hospitals of Cleveland in the Joseph Foley Elder Health Center at Fairhill Center caring for individuals with concerns about their cognitive abilities as they age. He is working to develop an integrative health practice focused on the healing power of storytelling. He envisioned and cofounded the Greenwall Foundation supported StoryBank, a regional resource for transdisciplinary analysis and utilization of narratives of illness and health that foster community well-being.
His research interests include the neurobiology of what he used to refer to as Alzheimer's disease and related conditions, the development of more effective treatments for individuals with cognitive impairment, including drugs and non-biological interventions, ethical issues in the medical profession and integrative health care systems. He has a particular interest in narrative medicine and has developed a number of programs focusing on the value of reading and writing for cognitive vitality. These include a National Institutes of Health funded project to examine whether reading delays cognitive impairment as we age and various multimedia family interventions to promote re-membering. His other current NIH grants focus on quality of life, treatment interventions and genetic testing in dementia.
He founded the International Working Group for the Harmonization of Dementia Drug Guidelines and co-founded or has leadership roles in other national and international groups focusing on the consequences of aging on the world.
He is the author (with Danny George) of a provocative book entitled The Myth of Alzheimer’s: What You Aren’t Being Told About Today’s Most Dreaded Diagnosis. Through this book and related projects he hopes to transform our thinking about brain aging and contribute to his own successful cognitive aging.
He is the grateful husband of Catherine, father of three vibrant young women, and the son of wonderful parents.
For more information, check out the slideshow presentation of our department: