2016 - 2017

Healthy Aging Study Annual Report

Over the past year, the Emory Healthy Aging Study has worked to identify how aging affects our bodies and minds. We reached some incredible milestones in 2016. See what we learned, meet the researchers who helped us get there, and the participants who made it all possible.

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If you had the chance to change the world, would you?

Welcome to the Emory Healthy Aging Study. This is your opportunity to partner with leading physicians at Emory University and help make discoveries that will change our understanding of aging and age-related diseases for generations to come.

It’s easy. It’s historic. It’s one for the ages.

Emory Healthy Aging Study

Our 100,000 Goal

100,000 registrants. That's the number we're aiming for, and we're proud to say we're 14.5% of the way there. Our participants come from all ages, races, and walks of life. Because of the diversity required for this study, we utilized several different methods to reach potential candidates.

From Lead to Participant

How will we hit our 100,000 registrant goal? We start by generating leads. The first step is to garner interest and engagement in this historic research endeavor. By participating in local health events, contacting patients at our clinics, and using social media, we taught 60,086 people about the Emory Healthy Aging Study in 2016.

From there, we ask these leads to register for more information. Preliminary data is gathered to determine the potential participant's age and email address. They'll create a password so that if they pause this step, it’s easily accessible at a later date.

Participation in this study relies entirely on consent from the volunteer. We make everything easy and transparent for each participant, so that they know what they are agreeing to by joining the study. After they've given their approval, we gather their contact information.

How We’re Using Your Data

What We’ve Found So Far

While the Emory Healthy Aging Study is still in its early stages, data collected from the participants has already been utilized to draw some interesting preliminary conclusions on the effects of aging.

On Cognitive Function

Other research studies have suggested that parental history of Alzheimer’s disease and related memory problems have an influence on how people perceive the effects of aging on their own mental capability. We put this theory to the test, with data from 3,124 of our own participants.

Interestingly, we found no evidence to support the conclusion derived from the other research studies. Instead, we saw that there were significant differences in cognitive function between African American and Caucasian participants. This type of information is very helpful in conducting future studies, as it might help provide a rationale or explanation for otherwise confusing results.

On Cardiovascular Disease

In a separate study, our researchers used the data of 3,801 Emory Healthy Aging Study participants to determine the relationship between family history of cardiovascular disease and self-reported cognitive function. Past research has shown that a family history of heart disease and stroke is a risk factor for heart disease and that factors related to heart health are related to brain health. (1-3)

While a family history of cardiovascular disease can help predict heart disease, its relationship to brain health is unknown. What do we know? Using participants' data, we found that the correlation between a family history of cardiovascular disease and poor cognitive function was similar to having a first-degree family member with cognitive impairment.

The Next Step

So far, the results have been incredibly exciting. Due to the long-term nature of the Emory Healthy Aging Study, we will have the ability to re-evaluate a sample of our participants to see how their self-reported responses have changed. What we find could provide a basis for future research on heart and brain health, and how they are affected by aging.

Beyond the data presented in this annual report, we still have even more information collected from participants that we are eager to delve into in the short and long-term future. We've already begun to explore the details of the previous two studies that were conducted, in addition to related topics such as diabetes and hypertension. We're also evaluating how exposure to chemicals affects the development of age-related diseases. The broad nature of the data we're gathering and the vast amount of study volunteers we have to work with means that our research and analysis will only speed up as time passes.

Total Leads To Date Leads Registration Rate: 20.1% Registrants Consent Completed: 78.1% Registrants Contact Completed: 65.4%
Total Leads 62242
Registrants 12065
Completed Contact Info 7895
Health History Questionare’s Completed 0.0


Kivipelto M, Helkala EL, Laakso MP, et al. Midlife vascular risk factors and Alzheimer's disease in later life: longitudinal, population based study. BMJ (Clinical research ed) 2001;322:1447-51.

Thacker EL, Gillett SR, Wadley VG, et al. The American Heart Association Life's Simple 7 and incident cognitive impairment: The Reasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study. Journal of the American Heart Association 2014;3:e000635.

Scheuner MT, Whitworth WC, McGruder H, Yoon PW, Khoury MJ. Expanding the definition of a positive family history for early-onset coronary heart disease. Genetics in medicine : official journal of the American College of Medical Genetics 2006;8:491-501.


Meet the people who made it all possible; our participants. Their willingness to volunteer their time to our research has led to some astounding discoveries.

More about Participants

Registrants by Age

The mystery of aging is the entire reason for the Emory Healthy Aging Study, and therefore is an important factor in determining if a candidate is eligible to participate. While we're open to participants over the age of 18, our largest pool comes from the 56 - 75 range. These are the people that feel the effects of aging most, and are learning about their own health as well as helping the study.

76+ 56-75 36-55 18-35 0 0 0 0
Health History Questionnaire Registrants by Age
Age 86+ 51
Age 76-85 432
Age 66-75 1984
Age 56-65 2131
Age 46-55 1114
Age 36-45 354
Age 26-35 289
Age 18-25 74
18-25 26-35 36-45 46-55 56-65 66-75 76-85 86+ AGE

Registrants by Gender & Race

We strive for diversity within the Emory Healthy Aging Study. It's important that our research discovers how different people from all walks of life are impacted by aging. In 2016, we saw that a large portion of our volunteers were Caucasian females. To diversify our candidate pool, we used Facebook to reach other races and genders. By targeting African-Americans and male audiences with highly segmented social media advertising, we're helping to bridge the gap in race and gender with our current volunteers.

Share the Study

A diverse group of volunteers is essential to our research. While aging is a universal process, its affects are nuanced among different races and genders. It’s important that our participant pool equally represents all members of our society. To help us ensure that our research is working towards healthy aging for all, please share our study with your friends!

Registrants by age
Registrants by race
Registrants by location
62.9% of Registrants from Atlanta MSA

Registrants by Location

Emory University Hospital is located in Atlanta, Georgia, on Emory University’s campus. Because of our community involvement and the need to see our Emory Healthy Brain Study volunteers in person, a vast majority of our participants are from the metro-Atlanta area. However, our self-reported Health History Questionnaire can be answered from any part of the country. While our more in-depth brain research requires a clinical visit, people from any state can join the Emory Healthy Aging study just by visiting our website!

Participant Story:Lee

As a first-time volunteer in any clinical research study, Lee is helping us understand how our minds age by participating in the Emory Healthy Brain Study.

Questionnaire Responses

A large part of our research involves self-reported data from our participants. Our Health History Questionnaire aims to tell us about the personal lives of our volunteers, as well as their family history with age-related diseases. What would your answers look like if you joined the study? Find out below!


What time do you typically go to bed at night?

Think about the walking you do outside of the home. How often do you walk outside the home for more than 10 minutes without stopping?

Number of alcoholic drinks per week?

Health History

Do you have a family history of Alzheimer's Disease (biological mother, father or sibling)?

Do you have a personal history of High Blood Pressure?

Do you have a personal History of Diabetes?

Participant Story:Karstin

As a member of the baby boomer generation, Karstin joined the Emory Healthy Aging Study to determine why Alzheimer’s and Dementia are more prevalent in elderly women.


How do we reach our potential participants? From highly targeted media campaigns to attending community events, we're raising awareness of the Emory Healthy Aging Study through multiple channels.

More about Sources

HHQ Completions and Registrants by Source

Educating our community about the Emory Healthy Aging Study is a crucial part of reaching our registration goal. We reached potential participants in a number of ways last year, with the hopes that they would take the next step and complete a Health History Questionnaire. The chart below indicates which channels drove the most registrations and Health History Questionnaire completions.

Registrants Health History Questionnaire Completions
4,789,410 Impressions 157,832 Link Clicks 20,695 Guide Downloads


With its vast user-base, it was no surprise that the highest amount of Health History Questionnaire completions came from Facebook. Using niche targeting, creative messaging, and relatable imagery, we were able to hone in on our ideal candidate for participation.

2440 Health History Questionnaire Completions from Clinics
Emory St. Joseph’s Primary Care
Emory 1525 Clifton Road-Primary Care
Emory Clinic at Midtown
Emory Clinic at Decatur
Emory at Dunwoody Family Practice
Emory at Dunwoody Family Practice

Clinic Approached

Though Facebook saw the most completed Health History Questionnaires, another method saw the most registrations. With the help of students from the Rollins College of Public Health at Emory, we approached eligible candidates at our clinics. These patients were provided an iPad or kiosk to easily sign up for the study.

617 Health History Questionnaire Completions from Events


Establishing a connection to our community is an important initiative of the Emory Healthy Aging Study. Our team has attended thirteen local public health events and forums, with the goals of recruiting new participants and educating other attendees. We successfully gained over 600 registrants from these events, and discussed important health information concerning aging and chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s, Cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

3628 Health History Questionnaire Completions from Emory Patients

Emory Patients

At Emory Hospital, our renowned medical team is helping treat patients on a daily basis. For the Emory Healthy Aging Study, we saw a large portion of these patients return the favor and volunteer for our study. Their participation in the Emory Healthy Aging Study or any of our substudies in no way impacts the care they receive in any other setting.


The Emory Healthy Aging Study is a multi-faceted, large-scale research effort to unlock the mysteries of how we age. While we look into the broad impacts of age-related diseases, we're also diving deeper into how the brain is affected through our sub-studies.

More about Research

Emory Healthy Aging Substudies & Assessments

We've identified four specific aspects of the aging process to further study, within the realm of the Emory Healthy Aging Study. These substudies of the Emory Healthy Aging Study help us learn more about how our brain and mental health change as we grow older.

Meet Our Team

James Lah, MD, PHD

James Lah, MD, PHD

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Monica W. Parker, MD

Monica W. Parker, MD

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Felicia C. Goldstein, PHD

Felicia C. Goldstein, PHD

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Bruce Crosson, PHD

Bruce Crosson, PHD

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