Lauren Massimo, PhD, CRNP, FAAN

Assistant Professor of Nursing

Neurodegenerative disease refers to progressive neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Frontotemporal degeneration, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis that change the way people think, behave, remember, and much more. My program of research utilizes state of the art neuroscience methods to understand the cognitive and neural mechanisms that contribute to symptoms in neurodegenerative disease.

My theoretical foundation in nursing science and neuroscience has positioned me to build a translational research program that integrates behavioral and biological markers to improve our understanding and treatment of individuals with neurodegenerative disease.


  • PhD, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, 2014
  • Post-Master’s, University of Pennsylvania, Teacher Education Program, 2012
  • MSN, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, 2005
  • BSN, Pennsylvania State University, 2002


Dr. Massimo has extensive experience teaching in undergraduate and graduate courses at Penn Nursing and often serves as a guest lecturer on the topic of geriatric mental health and cognitive disorders.


Dr. Massimo’s research program focuses on identifying the cognitive and neural basis for symptoms of neurodegenerative disease. Her rich clinical experience and background in neuroscience enable her to translate these findings to design interventions based on an understanding of underlying neurobiological mechanisms.

Clinical Practice

Over her decade-long career as a Nurse Practitioner in Cognitive Neurology, Dr. Massimo has enjoyed the opportunity to work with and support many patients with neurodegenerative disease and their families. 

Opportunities to Learn and Collaborate at Penn Nursing

Dr. Massimo is an active investigator in the University of Pennsylvania Frontotemporal Degeneration Center. Dr. Massimo works closely with other Center members including neurologists, neuropathologists, neuroscientists, geneticists, genetic counselors, neuropsychologists and social workers. She has supervised and mentored research assistants, undergraduate students and doctoral students on projects related to neurodegenerative disease and feels strongly about the mission to train the next generation of scientists to engage in research to improve the lives of individuals living with neurodegenerative disease and their family.

Selected Career Highlights


  • 2023, Fellow, American Academy of Nursing
  • 2023, Barbara J. Lowery Doctoral Student Organization Faculty Award
  • 2020 “Emerging Leader in Gerontological Nursing,” (Geriatric Nursing, 41:7-13)
  • 2018 Abstract of Distinction, State of the Science Congress on Nursing Research, Council for the Advancement of Nursing Science
  • 2011-2013 John A. Hartford Foundation, Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity Scholar
  • 2014, Marion R. Gregory Award for a distinguished completed doctoral dissertation, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
  • Member, Geropsychiatric Nursing Collaborative (GPNC)
  • Ambassador, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Loan Repayment Award Program

Accepting Mentees?

  • Yes

Featured Publications

  • Jin, H., McMillan, C.T., Yannatos, I., Fisher, L., Rhodes, E., Jacoby, S.F., Irwin, D. & Massimo, L. (2023). Racial differences in clinical presentation in individuals diagnosed with frontotemporal degeneration. JAMA Neurology. (epub ahead of print). PMID: 37695629

  • Massimo, L., Hirschman, K., Aryal, S., Quinn, R., Fisher, L., Sharkey, M., Thomas, G., Bowles, K., & Riegel, B. iCare4Me for FTD: A pilot randomized study to improve self-care in caregivers of persons with frontotemporal degeneration. Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Translational Research and Clinical Interventions. 9:e12381. PMID: 37143583. DOI: 10.1002/trc2.12381DOI: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2023.3093

  • Mechanic-Hamilton, D., Lydon, S., Xie, S.X., Zhang, P., Miller, A., Rascovsky, K., Rhodes, E. & Massimo, L. Turning apathy into action in neurodegenerative disease: Development of a goal-directed behavior app. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation. 26(6), 1-16. PMID: 37128648. DOI: 10.1080/09602011.2023.2203403

  • Massimo, L., Rennert, L., Xie, S. X., Olm, C., Bove, J., Van Deerlin, V., Irwin, D. J., Grossman, M., & McMillan, C. T. (2021). Common genetic variation is associated with longitudinal decline and network features in behavioral variant frontotemporal degeneration. Neurobiology of Aging, 108, 16–23. PMID: 34474300. DOI: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2021.07.018

  • Kinney, N. G., Bove, J., Phillips, J. S., Cousins, K., Olm, C. A., Wakeman, D. G., McMillan, C. T., & Massimo, L. (2021). Social and leisure activity are associated with attenuated cortical loss in behavioral variant frontotemporal degeneration. NeuroImage.Clinical, 30, 102629. PMID: 33770546. PMCID: PMC8024767. DOI: 10.1016/j.nicl.2021.102629

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American Academy of Nursing Announces New Fellows

Eleven nursing professionals with ties to Penn Nursing will be inducted as 2023 Fellows of the American Academy of Nursing (AAN). One is a current Penn Nursing faculty member and an alumna; nine are Penn Nursing alumni; and one has been named an honorary Fellow. All of the inductees will be honored at a ceremony during the AAN’s 2023 Health Policy Conference, taking place on October 5-7, 2023.

Read MoreAmerican Academy of Nursing Announces New Fellows