2020 - 2021

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 2020. 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 32.5% 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. We continue to introduce people to the Emory Healthy Aging Study.

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. The final step in participation is the completion of the health history questionnaire. This valuable data is helping us better understand how we age and age-related diseases.

Total Leads To Date Leads Registration Rate: 20.1% Registrants Consent Completed: 78.1% Registrants Contact Completed: 65.4%
Total Leads 104588
Registrants 19686
Completed Contact Info 13536
Health History Questionnaires Completed 0.0


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

Participants 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 Participants by Age
Age 95+ .1%
Age 86-95 2%
Age 76-85 17%
Age 66-75 35%
Age 56-65 26%
Age 46-55 9%
Age 36-45 5%
Age 26-35 3%
Age 18-25 .3%
18-25 26-35 36-45 46-55 56-65 66-75 76-85 86-95 95+ AGE

Participants 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 2020, we saw that a large portion of our volunteers were Caucasian females. To diversify our candidate pool, we have partnered with the Goizueta Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center to further community and minority engagement.

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

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. We are excited to see how the study has grown and are proud to have participants from all over the United States!

Top 5 Furthest Locations

Registrants by location

Top 5 Zip Codes

Registrants by zip-code

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!


How many alcoholic beverages do you drink in a week?

Questionnaire Graph

How often each week do you usually do moderate or strenuous exercise?

Questionnaire Graph

What time do you typically wake up?

Questionnaire Graph

Health History

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

Questionnaire Graph

Have you ever had migraine headaches?

Questionnaire Graph

How is your memory compared to 10 years ago?

Questionnaire Graph


Want insights into healthier living, answers from subject-matter experts, and access to live webinars with researchers? Explore the many resources available and get the information you're looking for.

More about Sources


With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we shifted to virtual environments to continue providing patients and study participants relevant information while ensuring safety. Take advantage of these free webinars to learn directly from the researchers and professionals here at Emory.


Brain Talk Live

BrainTalk Live was launched virtually to support and sustain our outreach mission for older adults. As a Core, our function is important and critical to recruit and retain individuals of color for active engagement in brain-related research. We have utilized the Zoom platform to meet the people that make up our community. Our efforts have successfully addressed the unmet needs of a population that has been disparately affected by COVID-19 coupled with isolation and the interest in becoming more informed and empowered regarding cognitive concerns. This one-hour, interactive and mission-focused program has reached thousands of households to market, share, and educate individuals at-risk for memory impairment.

Video Call

CEP Community Live

Every week the Charlie & Harriet Shaffer Cognitive Empowerment Program provides online educational content and/or physical activities for webinar attendees. Sessions will be led by service providers from the Cognitive Empowerment Team, and will cover topics such as cognitive training, physical activity, nutrition, yoga, tai chi, functional independence, art therapy, and much more. CEP Community Live events are open to all members of the community including people diagnosed with MCI or dementia, care partners, and clinicians.

Couple on Laptop

The Emory Dementia Webinar Lecture Series

The Emory Dementia Webinar Lecture Series was launched in January of 2021 to provide patients and their family members with expert information about practical aspects of living with mild cognitive impairment and dementia. Offered monthly, topics covered to date include an overview of mild cognitive impairment and different dementias, information about driving evaluations and how to know when it’s time to retire from driving, living options for those with dementia, and detailed information about Georgia’s Empowerline. We use the Zoom platform to reach patients and their family members across the country. These one-hour, interactive webinars recently expanded to reach patients and families in the Georgia Memory Net program.

This webinar is held the 2nd Wednesday of each month from 12-1pm (EST).

JoinPasscode: 514760

Partner Resources

Partners like the Georgia Memory Net and the Charlie & Harriet Shaffer Cognitive Empowerment Program also have a variety of resources available.

Couple Walking on the Beach

Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment

This resource guide was written primarily for the person diagnosed with MCI, but is also used as a guide for Care Partners. It includes information about the diagnosis, how to manage symptoms, emotional and practical coping strategies, and planning for the future, among other topics.

Virus Warning

Caregiving in a Time of Coronavirus

Georgia Memory Net’s parent organization and collaborators at Emory’s Goizueta Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center have released this helpful information to help support caregivers during this time of Coronavirus.


Aducanumab FAQ Sheet

This past year the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provided accelerate approval for the use of Aducanumab (Aduhelm) as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease. Since the announcement, there have been a lot of questions regarding the drug. If you want to learn more about Aducanumab, click the button below to access our Adcuanumab FAQ sheet.


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.

What We’ve Learned 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 Perceived Cognitive Decline

Within our sample, minority race, older age, and greater mood symptoms significantly predicted participant perceptions about cognitive decline. Parental history of MCI and AD did not.

Those with mood symptoms are at a higher risk of perceived cognitive decline and warrant additional monitoring for the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

On Cognitive Testing

Based on other findings, we were encouraged to examine the construct validity of the MoCA indices. The MoCA (Montreal Cognitive Assessment) is a brief assessment of overall cognition over several domains including visuospatial skills, memory, attention, and executive function.

We compared performance scores on the MoCA indices to other well-validated neuropsychological measures of the same domain. The results suggest that the indices have some shortcomings and may not be as accurate as we’d like.

These findings reinforce the use of longer, but more complete and thorough cognitive testing in our research.

On Our Mobile Assessment

The mobile assessment project began with the goal of having a remote method to measure cognition. By using a mobile application, people would be able to regularly engage in cognitive tasks without having to come for an in-person visit.

We compared the results of our mobile app, Arrows, with the results of an older computer test, Flanker. These tests are designed to measure processing speed, visual attention, and inhibition.

There is preliminary evidence for task reliability given the relationship between Arrows and Flanker reaction times. The majority of perfect scores on Arrows suggests a difference in difficulty from Flanker. Being able to use one hand with mobile verses the two on Flanker may contribute to this.

Future research will incorporate task modifications to increase the overall difficulty of Arrows to better allow us to compare it with Flanker.

On Purpose-in-Life

A major goal of the Emory Healthy Aging Study is to figure out what factors help reduce or eliminate cognitive decline that can come with getting older. One fascinating aspect of the brain is that positive and negative mental states can influence disease risk. Until now, the effects of these emotional states have largely focused on the detrimental effects of depressive symptoms on cognition. Using the EHAS data, Emory investigators examined the effect of purpose-in-life and asked whether it was associated with less perceived cognitive decline with advancing age. Purpose-in-life is a tendency to derive life meanings and purpose that generally stays stable throughout a person’s lifetime.

Using the unprecedented and newly acquired data on 5,000 participants of the Emory Healthy Aging Study, Emory investigators led by Aliza Wingo and Thomas Wingo found that purpose-in-life was an independent and important protective factor against cognitive decline even when considered head-to-head with other important with known protective (education, exercise, enrichment activities) and risk factors of cognition (depression, anxiety, diagnosed medical, mental health problems, smoking, alcohol use, family history of dementia, and others). Excitingly, the protective effect of purpose-in-life was observed as early as middle age. Currently, it is not known whether enhancing purpose-in-life or other psychological factors would be beneficial as an intervention. Future investigations are expected to address that important question to provide additional tools to help prevent cognitive decline with aging.

Data Requests

Researchers can submit requests to the Emory Healthy Aging Study for access to the data we've recorded. Each request includes the the researcher's subject of focus. Below are some of the request study titles that show just how many ways the data collected can help us better understand aging and age-related disease.

  • Classification Consistency of Memory Measures in Health Aging
  • Association of Family History of Cardiovascular Disease and CFI Score
  • Family history Score for Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and Cognitive Performance in Healthy Adults
  • Diet Quality and Methylation-Based Biological Age Among Middle and Old-Aged Adults
  • Association of intellectual activities with cognitive function in the Emory Health Aging Study
  • Development of deep learning frameworks to predict Alzheimer's Disease
  • Web-based Interfaces for Consumer support for assistive technology
  • Mobile cognitive testing validation

The Mobile Toolbox Project

We have been collaborating with Sage Bionetworks, Northwestern University, and other participating schools to develop a mobile toolbox for use in research. This app has a variety of cognitive tasks that measure attention, memory, language, and more. We first plan to compare EHBS participants' performance on the tasks with their performance on in-clinic and teletesting assessments to validate the tasks. If we find the app suitably measures these cognitive processes, we will then deploy it to the larger EHAS cohort. The ultimate goal is to have a relatively easy way to measure cognitive performance and track change over time that participants can complete from the comfort of their own homes at their convenience.

Featured Researchers

Felicia Goldstein, PhD

Felicia Goldstein, PhD

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Alvaro Alonso, MD, PhD

Alvaro Alonso, MD, PhD

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Deqiang Qiu, PhD

Deqiang Qiu, PhD

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John Hanfelt, PhD

John Hanfelt, PhD

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