What is Involved in Research?

Research into depression is critical! Without our study volunteers, we could never make progress in improving treatments or finding new therapies for depression.

We have several research opportunities for adults age 60 years and older who have depression. Some of these studies also enroll participants who do not have a history of depression or other mental health problems. Please read on to learn more about what types of studies we offer and what you could expect at a study visit.

If you would like to be contacted about research participation, please complete our contact survey.

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What is involved in research studies?

Each of our research studies is different based on the questions we are trying to address. Each study is different in its time commitment, study procedures, and reimbursement. However, common procedures include:


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Clinic visits with a study doctor

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Memory testing

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Self-report questionnaires


Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

of the brain

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Blood draws

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Study medications



Are there benefits to participating in research?


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Contribute to knowledge that helps the health and well-being of others

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Learn more about depression

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Receive ongoing feedback about your health


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Stay informed about clinical resources




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Our current studies also include treatment for depression, either with medications currently approved for treating depression by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or with investigational treatments. While our hope is that our research participants will experience an improvement in depression, benefit cannot be guaranteed.


What happens if I volunteer to participate?

  • You will start with a telephone screening call with a research coordinator. He or she will discuss the study with you and ask you questions to see if you are eligible to participate.
  • If you appear to be eligible, you will be scheduled for a screening visit. This might be in-person or by video. This will include:
    • A consent process where we formally tell you about the study and answer any questions you have. We only proceed if you agree to continue in the study.
    • A series of questions assessing for a wide range of mental health problems.
    • A screen for memory problems.
    • A visit with a study clinician
  • After this screening visit, we will schedule a baseline visit and arrange follow-up visits. What you do next will depend on the study.

Frequency Asked Questions

  • What if I change my mind about participating? You always have a right to change your mind. You can end your study participation at any time. We may ask for a final assessment for safety, particularly if the study involves study drug, but this is up to you.
  • Will I be reimbursed? All of our studies include reimbursement for your time. The amount varies across studies, depending on the study procedures.
  • I get claustrophobic in small spaces. Do I have to have the MRI? The brain MRI is an important component for many of our studies. While some people do have trouble with MRI, we have techniques that can make the MRI tolerable for most people. We can also schedule a ‘practice’ MRI so you can see what it is like if you are concerned.
  • If I am taking study medicine, what happens if I have side effects? We do not want you to take study medications if they are causing new problems! If you develop problems or side effects, we ask you to contact your study clinician. Some milder side effects often disappear over time. Others may not and require us to decrease the dose or stop your study medicine.

For more information on your rights as a research participant:

You can contact the Vanderbilt University Institutional Review Board for additional information about giving consent or your rights as a person in research studies, to discuss problems, concerns, and questions, or to offer input. Please feel free to call the Vanderbilt University Institutional Review Board Office at (615) 322-2918 or toll free at (866) 224-8273.

If you are already participating in one of our research studies, we encourage you to contact us first, especially if you are experiencing medical problems.