Meet the Team

Photo of Dr. Kinga Szigeti.

Director, Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center

Co-Primary Investigator

Dr. Szigeti is a board certified neurologist with subspecialty training in genetics and cognitive disorders. She is the founding director of the Alzheimer Disease and Memory Disorders Center (ADMDC) at the University at Buffalo. The ADMDC was founded in 2010 to provide state of the art medical services consistent with evolving practice standards which enhances and standardizes AD/D care in the region. The ADMDC's emphasis on early diagnosis and treatment is consistent with the public health mandate, as it translates into better outcomes and delayed institutionalization.

At the ADMDC our mission is to provide compassionate, state of the art care for patients and families affected by Alzheimer disease and other cognitive disorders. We have a multidisciplinary approach with a team of professionals caring for the patients and families. The team includes neurologists, neuropsychologists, psychiatrists, neuroimagers, social workers and nursing to address all the needs of the patients and caregivers.

Director, Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center

Read more

When it comes to Alzheimer's disease and dementia, a drug that can completely stop or prevent the disease is the greatest hope of patients, family members and health care providers. This is what our patients at the UB Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorders Center tell us repeatedly and what patients all over the globe are wishing for. Current therapies do help slow the progress of Alzheimer's disease, but finding the cure is a huge endeavor requiring collaboration between patients, caregivers, doctors, universities, pharmaceutical companies and funding agencies.

As part of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and UBMD Neurology, the UB Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorders Center is able to confront this critical public health issue not only by treating patients but by researching new discoveries that will lead us closer to a cure for Alzheimer's and dementia. The ADMDC facilitates patient participation in clinical trials for promising new Alzheimer's drugs.

The ADMDC incorporates an active translational research program housed in the UB Clinical and Translational Research center and is affiliated with the prestigious Clinical and Translational Research Award. Dr. Szigeti has had external funding from the Alzheimer's Association and from the National Institute of Aging of the National Institutes of Health over the years. Her work focuses on the genetics of Alzheimer's disease, a very heterogeneous disorder with a strong genetic component. Analysis of the genetic background will enable better classification of disease subgroups that should then lead to new and more effective medications to either delay disease onset or prolong the earlier stage of the disease when symptoms are very mild and patients still function relatively well.

Images of Leilani Joven Pelletier.

Program Director

Leilani is an experienced dementia care professional. She began her career as an adult protective caseworker, transitioning then into nine years as the Director of Social Work in the Skilled Nursing setting. There she developed her passion for caring for those with dementia. That led her to the Alzheimer’s Association, where she served eight years as the Program Director then eight years as Executive Director. In that capacity, she developed the drive and ability to support the larger public health issue of dementia through advocacy, which ultimately supported the development of the Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease. She serves now as the Program Director for the Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease in Western New York.

Leilani’s skill and passion for caring for those with dementia have been recognized by her peers and our community. Business First magazine named her as a Woman of Influence in 2014 and among the Health Care Top 50 in 2011. She is the 2017 recipient of the annual Dr. Evan J. Calkins Meritorious Service Award from the Network in Aging, which honors one individual’s lifetime achievement making significant contributions to the field of aging in Western New York. Ms. Pelletier can be found speaking at many Alzheimer's and dementia symposiums, training panels, and seminars. She can also be seen as the host of “Aging is for Everyone” airing monthly on WKBW-TV Channel 7.

Photo of Lesley Kennedy.

Lesley Kennedy, MSW

Care Manager

Lesley E.  Kennedy brings a wealth of experience to her position as the Care Manager for the Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s disease.  Beginning her career working in skilled nursing facilities as a CNA Lesley learned early that she loved working with individuals with a diagnosis of dementia and their family systems.  Lesley gained her License of Practical Nursing which allowed her to gain further experiences working as a charge nurse on Dementia Units and as an office nurse in a rural primary care practice.  Seeing the need for advocacy regarding this population Lesley again returned to academia to advance her knowledge base attaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Health and Human Services with a special concentration in social gerontology and finally a Master’s Degree in Social Work from SUNY Buffalo.    All of these experiences combined well allowing Ms. Kennedy to function at various levels in the medical and aging services fields.  Some positions Lesley has held are Medical Social Worker, Health Service Administrator for the Seneca Nation Health System, Screener/Liaison for a Neurosciences Center of Excellence, Program Director for the Alzheimer’s Association of Western New York and most recently Director of the Seneca Nation Area Office for the Aging.  Lesley plans to use all of the knowledge, skills and experiences she has gain throughout three decades of work to enhance the vital work of the UB Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s disease.  ​

Photo of Lisa Nevins.

Lisa Nevins

Program Assistant

A seasoned administrative professional who has acquired several decades of experience in administrative management and central office coordination. She has worked in a wide range of business and volunteer capacities in the Western New York area.
As Lisa has endured the loss of her own mother to Alzheimer's Disease, she has gained valuable insight into many of the issues surrounding Alzheimer's, Disease and has developed a great deal of compassion and understanding for patients and families who are affected by it.

Image of Allison Case.

Registered Nurse

Allison is Registered Nurse with Center of Excellence for Alzheimer's Disease. She has been working with Dr. Kinga Szigeti and her patient's in the clinic for the past 5 years. She works both in the community with the CEAD and also in the clinical setting. Originally from Syracuse, NY, Allison is a graduate of SUNY Oswego with a Bachelor's degree in Wellness Management. She came to Buffalo in 2007 to attend Canisius College to obtain a Master's in Health and Human Performance. Her nursing degree was first obtained as a Licensed Practical Nurse at Trocaire College in Buffalo and she recently completed her Associates in Nursing at Excelsior College.

Image of Mary Karpinski.

Social Worker

Mary Karpinski is a licensed social worker with a wealth of experience with a wide variety of clients. She coordinates care plans, offers support, counseling and refers patients to community resources.

Veterans Administration WNY Healthcare System Geriatric Evaluation and Management (GEM) Clinic

Geriatric Evaluation and Management (GEM) Clinic

Picture of Dr. Charito Saludades.

Medical Director, VAWNYHS Geriatric Evaluation and Management (GEM) Clinic

Dr. Charito Saludades, is the Medical Director of the Geriatric Evaluation and Management (GEM) clinic for the Veterans Administration Western New York Healthcare System.  She is Board Certified in Geriatric Medicine.  In addition to her role as Medical Director, Dr. Saludades is an Assistant Professor at the University at Buffalo, Medicine Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Care and Site Director for the Veterans Administration Western New York Healthcare System. Dr. Saluadades was previously Acting Director for the GEC Careline and worked in Subacute Rehabilitation, Palliative Care and Home Based Primary Care.

Picture of Anna Kusche, PhD.

Psychologist

Dr. Kusche is a licensed psychologist at the VA Western New York Heathcare System with dual assignments in the Buffalo, NY Geriatric Evaluation and Management (GEM) Clinic and in the Batavia, NY Home Based Primary Care Program.  During her training, Dr. Kusche completed a year-long fellowship with the VISN 2 Center for Integrated Healthcare with focus on geropsychology and integrated primary care.  Prior to that, she completed her pre-doctoral psychology internship at the VA Western New York Healthcare System.  Dr. Kusche earned both her MA and PhD from the State University of New York at Buffalo.  Her clinical interest reside in geriatrics, issues that predominately impact women and supervision/training.

Picture of Clare Kurzanski, RN.

Clare Kurzanski, RN

Dementia Care Manager

M. Clare Kurzanski, RN, is the Dementia Care Manager and Coordinator of the ADHC Program at the Veteran’s Administration Western New York Healthcare System.  She received her BSN from Niagara University and her MSN from D’Youville College.  Clare has over 30 years of experience in various nursing settings, med-surg., ICU, education, management, LTC and discharge planning.  She is a resource for VA GEC programs and works closely with primary care teams, especially nursing and social work.

Picture of Talisa Cross, LMSW.

Talisa Cross, LMSW

Social Worker

Talisa Cross a licensed Social Worker in the Geriatric Evaluation and Management Clinic at the Veterans Administration Hospital.  As Geriatric Specialist Social Worker, her role is to locate and coordinate services and resources, identify problems, address family concerns, explain medical terms and assessments and collaborate with the entire GEM Team to ensure that patients with Alzheimer’s and cognitive disorders are given the very best care.  Talisha is a graduate of the University at Buffalo with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Social Work.

Dent Neurologic Institute

Picture of Sarah Harlock, MBA.

Sarah Harlock, MBA

Program Director, Integrative Center for Memory

Sarah Harlock, Program Director of the DENT Integrative Center for Memory, has been working in the field of geriatrics for 23 years. Sarah began her career in long term care as an activity director, where she quickly developed a passion for dementia care.

In her current role as Program Director of the Integrative Center for Memory at Dent Neurologic Institute, she oversees the day to day operations of a multi-faceted dementia program supporting medical providers, patients and families.

Picture of Dr. Bela Ajtai, PH.D.

Dr. Bela Ajtai, PH.D

Dr. Ajtai is an attending Neurologist at DENT Neurologic Institute specializing in memory disorders, dementia and neuroimaging diagnostics. In addition to multiple peer-reviewed journal articles and congress abstracts, Dr. Ajtai authored an MRI anatomy atlas and is co-author of the Neuroimaging CD-ROM of the Continuum series and the anatomy chapter for the 4th ed. of “Cerebral SPECT and PET” by Drs. Van Heertum and Tykofsky. He is first author of the Structural Neuroimaging chapter of Bradley’s Neurology in Clinical Practice textbook, 6th & 7th editions. Dr. Ajtai is a member of the American Academy of Neurology and the American Society of Neuroimaging.

Picture of Dr. Erica Colligan, MD.

Dr. Erica Colligan, MD

Dr. Erica Colligan joined DENT Neurologic Institute in 2018 after two years of practicing neurology at Northwell Health in Long Island, NY. She attended SUNY at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and then went on to complete her neurology residency and fellowship in clinical neurophysiology at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Colligan practices general neurology, performs EMGs and specializes in memory disorders and dementia. She is a Buffalo native and coaches girls ice hockey in her spare time.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center (ADMDC)

Photo of Dr. Szigeti.

Director, Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center

Co-Primary Investigator