• As a public health social worker, Dr. Burke’s research focuses on cognition and cognitive impairment, including neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Her translational objective is to decrease health disparities through the identification of midlife risk factors for late-life neurodegeneration, the utilization of culturally responsive multi-modal assessment procedures, diagnostic methods, and interventions targeting cognitive impairments and chronic diseases across the lifespan.

    At FIU, she has received funding for more than 20 studies from foundation, internal, state, and federal sources. She has been funded by the Florida Department of Public Health twice (2017 and 2019). Her first project aimed to computerize a consensus diagnostic algorithm to predict mild cognitive impairment and dementia in diagnostic batteries used at Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers. She was also funded by the Florida Department of Health to assess the impact of psychiatric conditions on brain structure and volume, and how these changes impact Alzheimer’s disease risk and development. In 2017, Dr. Burke was awarded the New Investigator Award from the American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology.

    More recently, Dr. Burke’s research investigations have focused on midlife risk factors for later-in-life neurodegeneration. With both internal funding and funding from the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIH/NIMHD), Dr. Burke has investigated the role of sleep as a risk factor for cognitive impacts in 40-60-year-old Latinx and Black/African American adults with first-degree relatives diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Building upon these investigations, Dr. Burke was recently awarded funding to conduct an R01-equivalent study on the interactions between the gut microbiome, sleep, and cognition in 40-60-year-old Latinx adults with at least one first-degree relative diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This latest funding is part of the renewal of the Research Center in a Minority Institution (RCMI) at FIU and is one of three R01-equivalent projects that are part of the 5-year, $19.4 million grant, which is the university's largest NIH award to date.

    In 2021, Dr. Burke was named Educator of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers, Miami-Dade chapter. Later that same year, she was named Educator of the Year by the statewide Florida chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. She has taught doctoral courses at FIU on dissertation proposal development and writing (SOW 7936) as well as the History and Systems of Social Work Research (SOW 7406). For the MSW program, Dr. Burke has taught courses on research methodology, clinical assessment and intervention, and clinical gerontology practice.

research interests

  • Neurodegenerative and Neurodevelopmental Conditions

selected scholarly works & creative activities

principal investigator on

full name

  • Shanna Burke