Established in 2012, the Vanderbilt Memory and Aging Project (VMAP) is a longitudinal study investigating vascular health and brain aging. VMAP was among the first studies to integrate imaging and fluid biomarkers to better understand how cardiovascular and cerebrovascular health affect brain health in older adults. Understanding the vascular contributions to the multiple pathways of Alzheimer's pathology offers researchers a chance to identify intervention targets much earlier in the disease process. 

In 2020, the Vanderbilt Memory and Alzheimer's Center received two important grants from the National Institutes of Health to support the expansion of the VMAP cohort. These funds enabled us to nearly triple the existing cohort size, expanding possibilities for scientific discovery.

Join Participant Registry

In June 2022, actress and VMAP participant Kimberly Williams-Paisley joined Maria Shriver on NBC's TODAY Show to share how her mother’s decade long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease inspired her to join our research efforts.

To date and among other findings, researchers working with data from VMAP have shown:

  • Poor blood flow from the heart relates to reduced blood flow in brain regions where Alzheimer’s first begins.
  • In brain MRIs in older adults, fluid-filled spaces around small vessels in the brain are associated with worsened cognition.
  • Greater stiffness of the aorta, the body’s main artery from the heart, is associated with lower blood flow to the brain and may play a role in cognitive decline.

What to Expect

At baseline, participants complete a physical and frailty examination, fasting blood draw, neuropsychological assessment, echocardiogram, cardiac MRI, and brain MRI.

Additionally, participants undergo 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring and lumbar puncture for cerebrospinal fluid collection. Participants will return for follow-up visits at 18 months, 3 years, 5 years, and so on, to complete the full range of study procedures.

Join the Study

We are currently recruiting participants to expand the original VMAP cohort. VMAP study data is helping scientists understand the complexities of Alzheimer's disease so that we can identify prevention strategies and treatments. By participating in research, you help create a healthier world for future generations.

We encourage anyone age 50 or older to join our participant registry. If you qualify for VMAP or another one of our research studies, we will contact you.


Vanderbilt Memory and Alzheimer’s Center
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

1207 17th Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37212


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