Center for Cognitive Aging and Memory Clinical Translational Research Program (CAM)

Program Supported by the McKnight Brain Research Foundation

Program Director: Ron A. Cohen, Ph.D., ABPP, ABCN

Assistant Program Director:  Adam J. Woods, Ph.D.

Approximately one in seven adults over the age of 65 experience moderate to severe cognitive impairments, including problems with memory. These impairments adversely impact the ability of the elderly to remain functionally independent, and also interfere with health status and quality of life. People are increasingly reaching very advanced age, and there is evidence that the prevalence of cognitive and memory dysfunction will approach fifty percent among centenarians, providing a strong rationale for an intensification of clinical and translational neuroscience directed at age-associated cognitive decline. Research is needed to identify biomarkers that can identify people at risk for functional decline and early signals that changes in the brain are occurring prior to onset of overt symptoms. There is also a major need for research aimed at developing new interventions to prevent and remediate age-associated cognitive problems before disabling functional decline occurs. The Center for Cognitive Aging and Memory Clinical Translational Research Program addresses this critical need.


The mission of CAM is to conduct cutting-edge interdisciplinary clinical neuroscience and translational research on age-associated cognitive, behavioral and emotional functioning, factors that contribute to impairments and functional decline, and future avenues for intervention.

Primary Objective

A primary objective to translate basic science discoveries into clinical applications in order to slow, avert or restore age-related cognitive decline and memory loss.

Areas of Research

Specific areas of research within the Center for Cognitive Aging and Memory Clinical Translational Research Program include:

• Better characterization and prediction of the trajectory of age-associated cognitive changes.

• Achieving greater understanding of alterations of brain’s neural networks with aging.

• Development of neuroimaging methods for detecting and assessing early brain changes.

• Testing neurodiagnostic and predictive value of specific laboratory biomarkers.

• Examining epigenetic influences and signals that underlie brain changes.

• Epidemiologic and mechanistic studies of modifiable biological and behavioral risk factors of age-related cognitive decline and memory loss, which could be targeted for interventions in clinical trials.

• Predictive modeling of neurocognitive, neuroimaging and laboratory measures.

• Translation of basic science findings on factors influencing cognitive aging into clinical applications.

• Preliminary implementation studies of the effectiveness of particular interventions.

• Clinical trials of interventions to slow, avert, or restore age-related cognitive decline and memory loss.

• Studies examining the impact of interventions on functional capacity, health status, and quality of life.

• Translate findings on neural apoptosis, neurotoxicity, and neural plasticity and restoration resulting from basic and translational research findings of investigators in the McKnight Brain Institute and from other centers throughout the world.

• Translate findings from studies of neuronal and neural network development and repair into new paradigms for protecting and restoring at-risk higher cortical function in the elderly.

• Effectiveness and implementation studies of interventions found to be efficacious in clinical trials.