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Cambridge Centre for Frontotemporal Dementia and Related Disorders

Department of Clinical Neurosciences

I am a Race Against Dementia Alzheimer’s Research UK Fellow at the Cambridge Centre for Frontotemporal Dementia and Related disorders. I am interested in the study of neuropathology, biomarkers and clinical features of neurodegenerative diseases, with special interest in frontotemporal lobar degeneration and Alzheimer's disease.



I originally trained in Italy for my BSc and MSc at the Vita-Salute San Raffaele, where I worked with FDG PET in Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia. I then moved to the University of Cambridge for my PhD in Clinical Neurosciences working on in vivo neuroimaging makers (i.e. multi-tracer PET and MRI), longitudinal and prognostic modelling in tauopathies. In 2021-2022, I joined the RabLab at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) as a visiting scholar with an exchange fellowship.


My work focuses on the application of neuroimaging techniques (multi-tracer PET and MRI) to investigate the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative diseases, in order to identify early diagnostic and prognostic markers in dementia. As a Race Against Dementia Fellow, I am studying novel clinically viable PET and other biomarkers for inflammation, tau and synaptic loss in frontotemporal dementia and related disorders. To this end, I am applying an interdisciplinary approach that integrates imaging and clinical data with fluid markers and post-mortem pathology.


My main projects focus on:

i) characterising the predictive value of in vivo PET imaging for molecular pathology and inflammation in tauopathies;

ii) identifying novel clinically viable PET and fluid biomarkers in dementias;

iii) investigating the role of behavioural and brain changes in pre-symptomatic genetic frontotemporal dementia.


Key publications: 


  1. Malpetti M, Cope TE, Street D, Jones PS, Hezemans FH, Mak E, Tsvetanov KA, Rittman T, Bevan-Jones WR, Patterson K, Passamonti L … O’Brien J and Rowe J. Microglial activation in the frontal cortex predicts cognitive decline in frontotemporal dementia. Brain. 2023 Mar 8:awad078.
  2. Malpetti M, Jones PS, Cope TE, Holland N, Naessens M, Rouse MA, Savulich G, Fryer TD, Hong YT, Aigbirhio FI, O’Brien JT, Rowe JB. Synaptic loss in behavioural variant of frontotemporal dementia revealed by [11C]UCB-J positron emission tomography. 2022, Annals of Neurology – doi: 10.1002/ana.26543
  3. Malpetti M, La Joie R, Rabinovici GD. Tau beats amyloid in predicting brain atrophy in Alzheimer’s disease: implications for prognosis and clinical trials. 2022, Journal of Nuclear Medicine – doi: 10.2967/jnumed.121.263694
  4. Chouliaras L, Thomas AJ, Malpetti M, Donaghy PC, Kane JP, Mak E, Savulich G, Sedano MP, Heslegrave A, Zetterberg H, Su L, Rowe JR, O’Brien JT. Differential levels of plasma biomarkers of neurodegeneration in Lewy body dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia and progressive supranuclear palsy. 2022, Journal of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry – BMJ, doi: 10.1136/jnnp-2021-327788
  5. Malpetti M, Kaalund SS, Tsvetanov KA, Rittman T, Briggs M, Allinson K, Passamonti L, Holland N, Jones PS, Fryer TD, Hong YT...Rowe JB. In vivo 18F-flortaucipir PET does not accurately support the staging of progressive supranuclear palsy. 2021, Journal of Nuclear Medicine, doi:
  6. Malpetti M, Rittman T, Jones PS, Cope TE, Passamonti L, Bevan-Jones WR, Patterson K, Fryer TD, Hong YT, Aigbirhio FI, O’Brien JT and Rowe JB. In vivo PET imaging of neuroinflammation in familial frontotemporal dementia. 2021, Journal of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry – BMJ (3), 319-322, doi: 10.1136/jnnp-2020-323698
  7. Malpetti M, Passamonti L, Jones PS, Street D, Rittman T, Fryer TD, Hong YT, Vasquez-Rodriguez P, Bevan-Jones WR, Aigbirhio FI, O’Brien JT, Rowe JB. Neuroinflammation predicts disease progression in progressive supranuclear palsy. 2021, Journal of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry – BMJ 92 (7), 769-775, doi: 10.1136/jnnp-2020-325549
  8. Malpetti M, Jones PS, Tsvetanov KA, Rittman T, van Swieten J, …. , Rohrer JD, Kievit RA, Rowe JB, Genetic FTD Initiative (GENFI). Apathy in pre-symptomatic genetic frontotemporal dementia predicts cognitive decline and is driven by structural brain changes. 2021, Alzheimer’s & Dementia: the Journal of the Alzheimer’s association 17 (6), 969-983 – doi: 10.1002/alz.12252
  9. Malpetti M, Passamonti L, Rittman T, Jones PS, Vázquez Rodríguez P, Bevan-Jones WR, Hong YT, Fryer TD, Aigbirhio FI, O’Brien JT and Rowe JB. Neuroinflammation and tau co-localize in vivo in progressive supranuclear palsy. 2020, Annals of Neurology 88 (6), 1194-1204, doi: 10.1002/ana.25911
  10. Malpetti M, Kievit RA, Passamonti L, Jones PS, Tsvetanov KA, Rittman T, Mak E, Nicastro N, Bevan-Jones WR, Su L, Hong YT, Fryer TD, Aigbirhio FI, O’Brien JT and Rowe JB. Microglial activation and tau burden predict cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s Disease. 2020, Brain 143 (5), 1588-1602, doi: 10.1093/brain/awaa088


Race Against Dementia ARUK Fellow
Senior Research Associate
E-mail: mm2243[at]

Contact Details

Cambridge Centre for
Frontotemporal Dementia and related disorders
Department of Clinical Neurosciences
University of Cambridge
Herchel Smith Building, Forvie Site
Robinson Way, Cambridge Biomedical Campus
Not available for consultancy



A new short film by Professor Rowe about his journey as a clinician and researcher. Sponsored by AlzheimersResearchUK.

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