Headshot photo of Walt Dawson, D.Phil.

Walt Dawson, D.Phil.

  • Assistant Professor of Neurology, School of Medicine
  • Assistant Professor, OHSU-PSU School of Public Health


Dr. Walter Dawson studies the public policy implications of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias including the financial impact on families and the public programs that finance care. His specific research interests include global health policy, long-term services and supports financing, and interventions to better support people living with dementia including improved cognitive screening and dementia detection.

In addition to an appointment at the OHSU School of Medicine, Dr. Dawson is a Senior Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health with the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI) at the University of California, San Francisco and faculty at Portland State University’s Institute on Aging. Dr. Dawson has extensive direct experience in national and state-level public policy. As staff at the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, he worked on provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to increase access to long-term services and supports. Dr. Dawson is an elected member of the National Academy of Social Insurance.


Dawson W, Boucher N, Stone R, & Van Houtven C (2021). COVID-19: The Time for Collaboration between Long-Term Services and Supports, Health Care Systems and Public Health is Now. The Milbank Quarterly.

Dawson W, Bobrow K, Ibanez A, Booi L, Pintado-Caipa M, Yamamoto S, Tarnanas I, Evans T, Comas-Herrera A, Cummings J, Kaye J, Yaffe K, Miller B, & Eyre H (2020). The Necessity of Diplomacy in Brain Health. Lancet Neurology, 19(12):972–974.

Boucher N, Van Houtven C, and Dawson W (2020). Older Adults Post-Incarceration: Restructuring Long-Term Services and Supports in the Time of COVID-19. JAMDA, 22(3): 504-509.

Dawson W, Bangerter L, & Splaine M (2020). The Politics of Caregiving: Taking Stock of State Level Policies to Support Family Caregivers. Public Policy & Aging Report, 30(2): 62-66.

Ternes K, Iyengar V, Lavretsky H, Dawson W, Booi L, Ibanez A, Vahia I, Reynolds C, DeKosky S, Cummings J, Miller B, Perissinotto C, Kaye J, & Eyre H (2020). Brain health INnovation Diplomacy: a model binding diverse disciplines to manage the promise and perils of technological innovation. International Psychogeriatrics, 32(8):955-979.

Dawson W and Cutler J (2020). Addressing Long-Term Services and Supports Reform via Medicare. Yes, Medicare, that Post-Acute Care Program. Journal of Aging & Social Policy, 32(2):108-124.

Dawson W (2017). Winning the Fight to End Alzheimer Disease. JAMA Neurology, 74(8): 896–897.

Education and training

  • Degrees

    • B.A., 2004, University of Portland
    • M.S., 2006, London School of Economics
    • M.S., 2008, University of Oxford
    • D.Phil., 2014, University of Oxford
  • Fellowship

    • Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health, University of California, San Francisco, 2018-2020
    • Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in Governance and Public Policy, McMaster University, Canada, 2015

Memberships and associations:

  • AcademyHealth
  • American Society on Aging
  • Gerontological Society of America
  • International Society to Advance Alzheimer's Research and Treatment
  • National Academy of Social Insurance

Areas of interest

  • Global health policy
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Long-term care
  • Caregiving
  • Technology and dementia

Honors and awards

  • Fulbright Scholar