The principal research interests of Michelle M. Mielke, Ph.D., are to further understanding of the epidemiology of neurodegenerative diseases and the sex-specific differences in the risk and progression of these diseases. Her research takes a life-span approach to understanding risk factors for aging and neurodegenerative diseases to enhance precision medicine initiatives and provide better care for both men and women. Dr. Mielke also focuses on identifying biomarkers for accelerated aging and for the diagnosis, prediction and progression of Alzheimer's disease.
- Can we predict who will develop Alzheimer's disease and other dementias? Changes in the brain begin many years before people develop cognitive symptoms. Dr. Mielke is working to understand how the brain changes in people with normal cognition and what epidemiologic, societal and biological factors predict who will develop these brain changes and cognitive impairment.
- Can we identify biomarkers and new treatment targets for Alzheimer's disease and related dementias? Dr. Mielke is working to identify and better understand the use of markers in blood and cerebrospinal fluid to better diagnosis and predict who will develop Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. She also examines how lipids and other markers are associated with brain pathology and neurodegenerative disease progression. This work may lead to the development of new treatment targets for neurodegenerative conditions and the development of new assays for use in the clinic to predict rate of disease progression.
How do sex and gender affect the risk factors, symptom onset and disease progression of neurodegenerative and aging-related diseases? Dr. Mielke leads several grant-funded studies examining sex and gender differences in neurodegenerative conditions, cardiovascular diseases and accelerated aging. She co-directs the Specialized Center for Research Excellence on Sex Differences at Mayo Clinic. The focus of this center is to understand whether a history of ovary removal before natural menopause is associated with accelerated aging and dementia.
In addition, Dr. Mielke studies whether a history of hypertensive pregnancy disorders and hormone use are risk factors for mortality, cardiovascular disease and cognitive impairment. Together, this research will lead to the identification of sex-specific risk factors in both men and women to better predict risk of neurodegenerative diseases and accelerated aging.
Significance to patient care
Dr. Mielke's research will help to better understand the risk factors and brain pathology associated with the development of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias in both women and men. This understanding will help identify early diagnostic and prognostic indicators for the prevention of Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Mielke's work on sex and gender differences in disease risk will contribute to better precision-based medicine for men and women.
- Chair, Biofluid Based Biomarker Professional Interest Area, Alzheimer's Association International Society to Advance Alzheimer's Research and Treatment, 2017-present
- Co-chair, Interdisciplinary Network on Alzheimer's Disease, Society for Women's Health Research, 2016-present
- Member, Executive Committee, Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH), 2016-present
- Senior associate editor, Alzheimer's and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association, 2012-present
- Member, Neurological, Aging and Musculoskeletal Epidemiology (NAME) Study Section, Center for Scientific Review, 2014-2018
- Recipient, John R. Raymond Mentor Award, Women Scholars Initiative, Medical University of South Carolina, 2016
- Member, Alzheimer's Association Task Force on Gender Vulnerabilities, 2015