How Do We Age?

A major clinical study will help count the ways

At 18, you may feel like you will never grow old—but Emory researchers know better. They want to watch to see how it happens so they can help people maintain that youthful vigor longer.

Over the next four years, the Emory Healthy Aging Study will enroll people from all over the country with the goal of gathering 100,000 participants for the largest-ever clinical research study in Atlanta. Researchers are seeking to better understand aging and age-related diseases by observing what happens as we age and using that information to lead to more effective treatments and methods to prevent conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.

“This is an ambitious effort that we hope will allow us to find ways to predict which people are destined to have certain diseases as they get older,” says James Lah, the study’s principal investigator and associate professor and vice chair of the Department of Neurology at Emory School of Medicine. Allan Levey, professor and chair of the Department of Neurology at Emory and Goizueta Foundation Endowed Chair for Alzheimer’s Disease Research, is coprincipal investigator.

Any resident of the US and its territories over the age of 18 is eligible to participate in the online Emory Healthy Aging Study, and can join by signing up online at the study’s website. Participants fill out a brief health history questionnaire and will be asked periodically to complete online memory tasks and respond to surveys about their health habits. Based on information provided, a subset of participants will be invited to take part in additional studies that include visits to Emory. Participation in the studies is completely voluntary.

The research effort, supported by the Goizueta Foundation, represents an unprecedented collaboration by a multidisciplinary team from a variety of clinical and research specialties including neurology, cardiology, internal medicine, epidemiology, biochemistry, immunology, statistics, psychiatry, genetics, and radiology.

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