The long-term goals of the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging are to develop tools to predict and prevent cognitive decline and dementia, develop risk-prediction models for cognitive impairment, and conduct aging-related research to promote successful aging.

Addressing unmet needs in aging and dementia care

A major challenge in the field of aging and dementia is the inability to identify the people who will develop dementia and, in particular, Alzheimer's disease, before they develop symptoms. The brain changes underlying dementia and Alzheimer's disease precede clinical cognitive changes by 10 to 20 years — providing a window of opportunity to prevent the disease.

Guidelines from the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer's Association on characterizing the preclinical and mild cognitive impairment stages of Alzheimer's disease place a major emphasis on developing and using biomarkers. However, researchers have limited information on how frequently biomarkers occur in middle-aged and older adult populations, and on how effectively biomarkers can predict cognitive outcomes.

In collaboration with the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging aims to address these gaps in the understanding of aging, dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Specific aims

To accomplish its goals and address current research challenges, the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging focuses on four specific aims:

  • To estimate the prevalence of neuroimaging biomarkers such as brain amyloid accumulation, neurodegenerative pathology and vascular pathology in a defined population
  • To prospectively examine the association of these imaging biomarkers with cognitive outcomes
  • To develop risk scores to predict biomarkers and cognitive outcomes
  • To share data and resources with researchers conducting related projects

Data sharing for researchers

The study has already accomplished several of its original goals, including:

  • Estimating the prevalence and incidence of mild cognitive impairment and dementia, including Alzheimer's disease and other dementias
  • Identifying protective factors and risk factors for these conditions in Olmsted County, Minnesota
  • Determining long-term outcomes of these conditions

Additionally, since it began in 2004, the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging has provided:

  • Important information about cognitive and brain aging trajectories
  • Characterization of and outcomes for mild cognitive impairment
  • Insights into vascular, psychiatric and inflammatory predictors of cognitive impairment
  • Better understanding of in vivo brain pathology


The Mayo Clinic Study of Aging continues to advance the understanding of dementia and Alzheimer's disease with support from:

  • Alexander Family Foundation Inc.
  • Campbell Family Foundation
  • GHR Foundation
  • National Institute on Aging