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Neuroepidemiology Section

Lenore J. Launer, Ph.D., Chief

Osorio Meirelles, Ph.D., Staff Scientist

The research in the NES is aimed at investigating the interaction among brain pathologies and risk factors; identifying new risk factors for brain aging; developing new hypotheses about AD based on population research; and translating these factors to relevant public health prevention strategies to prevent brain changes leading to dementia.  To address these aims, we have taken a ‘virtual life course’ approach and developed carefully selected cohorts [HAAS, AGES-RS, CARDIA] that are both horizontal (i.e., ranging in baseline age from young adulthood to early late-life) and vertical (i.e., from clinical dementia, MRI measures, cognitive function and if possible, neuropathology), all with longitudinal follow-up. In addition, we develop or participate in clinical trials aimed at prevention of cognitive decline [i.e., ACCORD MIND and SPRINT MIND].

Studies in the Neuroepidemiology Section currently focus on understanding the contribution of cardio-vascular and metabolic mechanisms, sub-clinical and clinical disease, genetic risk, and life style factors to micro-vascular disease, regional brain atrophy patterns, connectivity in the brain, cognition, and dementia, as well as investigating the links between brain disease and other common diseases of old age. We also investigate trajectories of risk factors, and how they relate to different aspects of brain structure and physiology, leading to distinguishing trajectories to a pure AD pathology, mixed, or only vascular-based dementia and cognitive impairment.

Portfolio/Research Areas

  • Brain aging
  • Cardiovascular risk
  • Dementia
  • Brain MRI
  • Multi-dimensional biomarkers
  • Life course approach
  • Small vessel disease
  • Genetic risk scores
  • Neuro-Epidemiology

Findings and Publications

Muller M, Sigurdsson S, Kjartansson O, Gunnarsdottir I, Thorsdottir I, Harris TB, van Buchem M, Gudnason V, Launer LJ. Late-life brain volume: a life-course approach. The AGES-Reykjavik study. Neurobiol Aging. 2016 May;41:86-92.

SPRINT MIND Investigators for the SPRINT Research Group, Williamson JD, Pajewski NM, et al. Effect of Intensive vs Standard Blood Pressure Control on Probable Dementia: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2019;321(6):553-561.

Elbejjani M, Auer R, Jacobs DR Jr, et al. Cigarette smoking and gray matter brain volumes in middle age adults: the CARDIA Brain MRI sub-study. Transl Psychiatry. 2019;9(1):78. Published 2019 Feb 11.

Caunca MR, Odden MC, Glymour MM, et al. Association of Racial Residential Segregation Throughout Young Adulthood and Cognitive Performance in Middle-aged Participants in the CARDIA Study . JAMA Neurol. 2020;e200860. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2020.0860

Chosy EJ, Gross N, Meyer M, et al. Brain Injury and Later-Life Cognitive Impairment and Neuropathology: The Honolulu-Asia Aging Study. J Alzheimers Dis. 2020;73(1):317-325.

Ding J, Davis-Plourde KL, Sedaghat S, et al. Antihypertensive medications and risk for incident dementia and Alzheimer's disease: a meta-analysis of individual participant data from prospective cohort studies. Lancet Neurol. 2020;19(1):61-70.