Keoni Kauwe, PhD, is an internationally recognized researcher specializing in Alzheimer’s disease genetics. He has 85 peer-reviewed publications, more than $2.5 million dollars in research grants, and has mentored over 100 undergraduate student researchers at BYU. Kauwe graduated as valedictorian of the class of 1996 at Moloka’i High School and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at BYU. He then completed his PhD at Washington University in St. Louis in 2007 and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Washington University School of Medicine in 2008. He is currently an associate professor in the Department of Biology and coordinator of the bioinformatics program.
Kauwe’s research focuses on innovative approaches to characterize the genetic architecture of Alzheimer’s disease and is funded by grants from various organizations such as the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging, the Alzheimer’s Association, the Charleston Conference on Alzheimer’s disease, and partnerships with other organizations. He has made important contributions towards discovering more than a dozen new genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, resulting in publications in respected journals such as The New England Journal of Medicine, Nature, Nature Genetics, Neuron, Neurology, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Kauwe also plays an important role in the nonprofit group Rheumatic Rescue, which conducts research and clinical diagnosis of rheumatic heart disease in Samoa.
In alignment with BYU’s mission, Kauwe’s research efforts are designed to include significant contributions from BYU undergraduates and significant outreach components. Since 2009, five of his students have been first authors on peer-reviewed publications, twenty-two have been coauthors, and twenty-eight have received BYU ORCA Awards. Among these awardees are several Pacific Islander students. In addition, Kauwe has partnered with local companies to develop scientific internship programs for current students at Moloka’i High School.
Kauwe’s work has been recognized nationally and internationally as evidenced by his appointment as a senior editor for the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia, his recent service as a panelist for the NIH Summit on Alzheimer’s disease research, and as the scientific lead for the international Alzheimer’s disease DREAM Challenge.
Kauwe and his wife, Monica, live in Springville with their four children: Sai, Mealani, Nawai, and Keawe. They enjoy gardening, hiking, and playing sports together.