Meet the Team

Lilah M. Besser, PhD, MSPH

Lilah M. Besser, PhD, MSPH is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology, Miller School of Medicine at University of Miami. Dr. Besser’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Science in Biology, a dual-degree Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH) in Epidemiology and Environmental and Occupational Health, and a PhD in City and Regional Planning. As of February 2022, she has published 60 peer-reviewed scientific papers, many of which were focused primarily on clinical progression, neuropathology, and risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD).  Her current research program centers on the intersections between neighborhoods, built and social environments, healthy aging, and brain health. Dr. Besser is principal investigator on two grant-funded projects. The first is a 5-year National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Aging career development award (K01- AG063895), on “Longitudinal associations between neighborhood greenspace and brain aging in cognitively normal older adults” (02/2020-01/2025). The second is a 3-year Alzheimer’s Association Research Grant study (AARG-21-850963) on “Neighborhood segregation and longitudinal change in brain health measures” (02/2022-01/2025).  For her PhD dissertation, completed in 2017, Dr. Besser investigated how neighborhood built environment characteristics such as density of walking destinations are associated with cognition in non-demented older adults. Her research program builds upon her dissertation work to examine associations between social and built environments and brain health across the life course. Dr. Besser’s ultimate goal is to provide evidence to planners, architects, urban designers, policy makers, and public health professionals (among other disciplines) on the neighborhood characteristics that can help maintain cognitive function into older ages, reduce ADRD risk, and allow for aging in place.