David Merrill, MD, PhD

David A. Merrill, MD, PhD

Director, Brain Health Center; Geriatric Psychiatry

David A. Merrill, MD, PhD, is an adult and geriatric psychiatrist with double-board certification by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. He is director of the Pacific Brain Health Center at Pacific Neuroscience Institute.

Dr. David A. Merrill graduated Phi Beta Kappa completing a double major with Highest Honors in Psychology and High Honors Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. He continued his education in the National Institutes of Health funded Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of California, San Diego. He earned his PhD in Neurosciences at UCSD studying brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) amelioration of age-related cognitive deficits. His graduate studies led to the publication of a seminal work in the field of plasticity and aging in the journal Nature Medicine.

He completed his Adult Psychiatry Residency at the University of California, Los Angeles, which included a final year as program Chief Resident. He then completed a two-year combined clinical and research Geriatric Psychiatry Fellowship at UCLA before joining the faculty.

During his 8-year tenure on the full-time UCLA Psychiatry Faculty, Dr. Merrill fulfilled multiple teaching, service, and research roles. He was nominated multiple times for the annual Resident Teaching Award of Psychiatry trainees for his work supervising in both hospital and clinic-based settings. He was awarded competitive career development awards from both the UCLA Older Adults Independence Center and then the UCLA Center for Translational Science Institute. His work on studies examining the brain effects of health lifestyle habits (including diet, exercise, and stress reduction) resulted in multiple high-impact publications and wide social media coverage. Dr. Merrill continues to collaborate across institutions as an active member of the UCLA Psychiatry Volunteer Clinical Faculty.

Dr. Merrill has worked for several decades with patients suffering the behavioral health sequelae of age-related neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disorder. His more recent clinical and research work have expanded to include patients with history of head trauma, tumor, and stroke. Through his early adoption of emerging clinical practice technologies, Dr. Merrill has developed a “precision holistics” approach that combines personalized genetic and biomarker data with the best evidenced-based treatments available for alleviating depression and cognitive dysfunction within the context of aging.

Research Interests

  • Aging and Memory
  • Mood Disorders
  • Fitness and Cognition
  • Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias
Medical Degree:MD – UC San Diego School of Medicine
PhD – University of California, San Diego-Neurosciences Graduate Program
Residency:Psychiatry, UCLA School of Medicine
Fellowship:Geriatric Psychiatry, UCLA School of Medicine
Certifications:Psychiatry and Neurology, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
Geriatric Psychiatry, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology