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Behavioral and Social Pathways to AD/ADRD


BSR supports research to identify behavioral, social, and biobehavioral risk and protective factors (e.g., educational attainment, work/occupation, personality, social engagement, smoking, obesity, sleep, physical activity, diet, adverse childhood experiences, socioeconomic status) on the pathway to cognitive decline and AD/ADRD. This portfolio includes basic behavioral and social research designed to elucidate causal mechanisms and processes accounting for associations between these factors and cognitive outcomes in later life. Studies range from deeply phenotyped longitudinal cohort studies to mechanistic studies that test, through experimentation, the malleability of behavioral and social intervention targets that are hypothesized to be linked to cognitive decline and AD/ADRD.

We also support the development of measures of additional social, psychological, and environmental exposures and constructs for inclusion in future larger scale observational and interventional studies of dementia risk and resilience.

Related AD+ADRD Research Implementation Milestones: 1B, 2J

Active Projects as of September 2021: Behavioral and social pathways

Research Programs and Contacts

Program Contact

Relevant Area(s)

Frank Bandiera

  • Structural racism
  • Immigration

Melissa Gerald

  • Vulnerable populations including sexual and gender minorities, the incarcerated, and populations at risk of elder mistreatment

Amelia Karraker

  • Family structure
  • Education and cognition

Jonathan W. King

  • Exposome
  • Longitudinal studies of cognitive aging

Liz Necka

  • Social engagement and interpersonal processes

Lisa Onken

  • Behavioral intervention development

John Phillips

  • Work/occupation factors
  • Socioeconomic status

Janine M. Simmons

  • Deeply phenotyped longitudinal cohort studies
  • Personality and adverse childhood experiences

Luke E. Stoeckel

  • Health behaviors and lifestyle factors; behavioral phenotypes

Funding Opportunities

Active funding opportunities related to behavioral and social pathways to AD/ADRD are listed below. In addition, any AD/ADRD-focused application can be submitted to NIA’s parent AD/ADRD R01 and R21 program announcements. Notices of Special Interest associated with these parent NOFOs specify high priority behavioral and social research topics. For a list of all of BSR’s active funding opportunities, visit our funding opportunities and applicant resources page.

Research Investments

BSR has supported research projects focused on behavioral and social pathways to AD/ADRD through targeted notice of funding opportunity (NOFO). Although some of these funding opportunities are no longer active, the topics outlined in the announcements remain priority research areas for BSR. Applications on these topics should be submitted through a relevant active NOFO or through NIA’s parent AD/ADRD R01 and R21 program announcements.

Related Workshops & Reports

Decadal Survey of Behavioral and Social Science Research on Alzheimer's Disease and Alzheimer's Disease-Related Dementias, August 14, 2019 - July 8, 2020

Understanding Pathways to Successful Aging: Behavioral and Social Factors Related to Alzheimer's Disease, June 2017

Childhood Adversity, Adult Health, and Preventive Interventions: The Potential Role of New Findings on Neuroplasticity, April 19-20, 2017

The Effect of Education on Recent Dementia Trends: A Look Forward (PDF, 307K), September 2016

Modifying Facets of Personality in Midlife to Promote Well-being and Healthier Aging, June 9-10, 2016

Return to BSR’s AD/ADRD Page

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