Emory Launches Largest-ever Clinical Research Study in Atlanta

Staff Report From Metro Atlanta CEO

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

Emory researchers seeking to better understand aging and age-related diseases have launched the Emory Healthy Aging Study.  It is the largest-ever clinical research study in Atlanta with a goal of enrolling 100,000 people over the next four years.

The study will help researchers better understand what happens as we age and lead to more effective treatments and methods to prevent conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and more.

"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, MD, PhD, the study’s principal investigator and associate professor and vice-chair of the Department of Neurology at the Emory University School of Medicine. 

"There is so much we still don’t know about brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, so it’s important to get as many people as possible to participate in research studies like this in order to increase our ability to prevent these diseases in the future," adds Allan Levey, MD, PhD, study co-principal investigator, professor and chair of the Department of Neurology at Emory, and The Goizueta Foundation Endowed Chair for Alzheimer’s Disease Research.

Anyone 18 years of age or older, who is a resident of the U.S. and its territories, 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 these studies is completely voluntary.

"My goal is to help people live healthier, longer lives. As providers, the more information we can obtain about the aging process, the greater our chances of changing the trajectory of aging," says Theodore Johnson, MD, MPH, a study investigator and physician lead for Emory Primary Care.

This effort 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. By working together and sharing information, the researchers agree this study has the potential to positively impact future generations.

"The personal information shared about activity levels, sleep, mood, diet and other health habits, together with biological data, will help us better understand the environmental factors that affect our health and how age-related conditions are inter-related," says Viola Vaccarino, MD, PhD, study investigator and Wilton Looney Chair of Cardiovascular Research in the Department of Epidemiology at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health.