Well-being as a Protective Factor against Cognitive Decline and Dementia

Project: Research project

Project Details


The Pathway to Independence Award will equip the candidate with the knowledge and skills to study well-being as a key protective factor against Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD). ADRD is a substantial and rapidly-growing public health burden, with no available disease-modifying treatments. However, not everyone with ADRD-related neuropathology experiences symptoms of dementia. Well-being is an understudied but important predictor of cognitive resilience to ADRD neuropathology, given that it has been associated with ADRD risk and is amenable to intervention. The candidate will evaluate multiple well-being predictors of resilience to ADRD pathology (Aim 1). To address questions related to direction of causality, the candidate will examine bidirectional associations between well-being and cognitive decline in older adults with and without ADRD (Aim 2). To increase the generalizability and replicability of findings, both research aims will be conducted in multiple existing longitudinal datasets. To support the candidate in conducting the proposed research, training in three areas is planned: (a) Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD), (b) causal modeling of longitudinal observational data, and (c) Integrative Data Analysis. Training will occur under the mentorship of renowned experts in each field (including two personality and health psychologists, an epidemiologist, and a quantitative psychologist). During the K99 period, the candidate will receive training in ADRD that will be applied to both aims of the proposed research and training in causal modeling techniques that will be used in the second aim of the proposed research. During both periods of the award, the candidate will work with the mentor team to build relationships with existing longitudinal studies and develop an Integrative Data Analysis pipeline. The training environment at the Department of Medical Social Sciences, Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine will be ideal for the proposed training and research, as well as for developing the candidate’s professional skills. Together, the award will help the candidate launch her research career as an independent scientist with unique expertise in well-being, cognitive and physical health across the lifespan, and longitudinal modeling.
Effective start/end date8/15/224/30/24


  • Washington University St. Louis (WU-23-0295//4R00AG071838-03)
  • National Institute on Aging (WU-23-0295//4R00AG071838-03)


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.