Peter J. Whitehouse, MD, PhD and MA (Bioethics) is Professor of Neurology as well as current or former Professor of Cognitive Science, Psychiatry, Neuroscience, Psychology, Nursing, Organizational Behavior, Bioethics and History. His is also a member of the faculty associates of the Fowler Center for Sustainable Value at the Weatherhead School of Management and the Center for Aging and Health. 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 led 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 (www.tisonline.org) . This high performing and 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 at Case and teaches in various programs including Foundations of Clinical Medicine, a longitudinal program focusing on professionalism and leadership. He has co-learned in a variety of Weatherhead executive education programs including Health Systems Management, Professional Fellows, Masters of Positive organizational Development, and Executive Doctorate of Management. He helped found the Cleveland Educators for Sustainability and works actively on environmental issues including watersheds. His photographs were featured in a recent book titled The Legacy of the Clark Freeway Fighters which describes a project he developed in which children interviewed elders whose activism protected a local community’s nature center from a corrupt politician who wanted to place a highway through it. 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. Increasingly he is using multimedia and transmedia, such as virtual reality and broadband connectivity to create health and learning environments. These projects include many visual arts, theater, dance and musical components.
He has been active internationally his entire career including sabbaticals in Japan and the United Kingdom and maintains many global collaborations. He founded the International Working Group for the Harmonization of Dementia Drug Guidelines and co-founded and/or has had leadership roles in other national and international groups focusing on the consequences of aging on the world. Currently he is on a part-time Leave of Absence from Case working as an advisor in strategic innovation at Baycrest, a world-class geriatric care complex and brain research institute in Toronto.
He is clinically active at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in the Joseph Foley Elder Health Center caring for individuals with concerns about their cognitive abilities as they age. He is working to develop integrative intergenerative health practices focused on the healing power of storytelling and the conceptual model of ecopsychosocial health. This practice will be located in several sites including a geriatric clinic, a brain health coaching program, and a school-based primary care and public health center 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 i.e. psychosocial/educational 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. His recent and current NIH and other grants focus on quality of life, treatment interventions, and genetic testing in dementia. He is the author and editor of hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific articles, book chapters and books.
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.” (www.themythofalzheimers.com) 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.