Vascular Risk Factors, Treatments and Biomarkers for Alzheimer's Disease

Cynthia Carlsson, MD, MS, is a geriatrician, the director of the Wisconsin Alzheimer's Institute, and a nationally recognized expert on Alzheimer's disease. Her research focuses on the effects of vascular risk factors and their treatments on cognition and biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease in persons at risk for dementia. It integrates the use of neuroimaging, vascular, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and cognitive biomarkers.

Dr. Carlsson's research team in the lab.

Clinical Trials to Pinpoint Risk Factors

Dr. Carlsson and her colleagues are conducting clinical trials investigating:

  • The impact of vascular risk factors on risk of cognitive decline in middle-aged adults at risk for Alzheimer's disease
  • How vascular risk factors are related to biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease found in the blood, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), and on MRI scans measuring brain blood flow
  • The relationship between endothelial function and brain blood flow in persons at risk for Alzheimer's disease
  • The effects of statins and fish oil on CSF biomarkers, brain blood flow, and cognition in asymptomatic middle-aged adults with increased risk for Alzheimer's disease
A researcher in Dr. Carlsson's lab

Research Team

Clinical Research Coordinator II

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse Practitioner

Clinical Research Supervisor

Clinical Research Coordinator II

Clinical Research Project Coordinator II

Clinical Research Coordinator II

Clinical Research Coordinator II

Clinical Research Coordinator II

Funding Support

Dr. Carlsson's research is funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute on Aging and the Veteran’s Administration.



View a list of Dr. Carlsson's publications.

Active Projects


The AHEAD study tests whether intervening AHEAD of symptoms may prevent future memory loss and dementia. The AHEAD study is the first research study that aims to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease by enrolling participants as young as 55 and using a tailored dosing approach.

The study looks at a medication called lecanemab aimed at delaying memory decline in people up to 20 years before the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease appear. Discovering a treatment that targets brain changes early means doctors may be able to one day prevent memory loss.


The Alzheimer’s Plasma Extension (APEX) study is an observational study on Alzheimer’s disease (AD) related brain changes. APEX is an observational study in which researchers look at (or observe) changes over time without any study treatments, hoping to learn about the factors that may preserve memory and thinking in older individuals who do not develop elevated amyloid levels in the brain. APEX is a sub-study of the AHEAD Study.


The goal of the BRAVE study is to find out if a purified form of fish oil can stop or delay early brain changes associated with Alzheimer's disease in middle-aged, cognitively healthy Veterans at risk for this common form of dementia.


PREVENTABLE is investigating potential benefits of a lipid-lowering medication in older adults. This is one of the largest research studies for older adults taking place at 100 locations across the country.

The William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans’ Hospital is one of the PREVENTABLE sites looking to partner with people 75 years or older to learn if taking a statin could help older adults live well for longer by preventing dementia, disability, or heart disease.


The Synaptic Therapy Alzheimer’s Research Trial (START) is a national study funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Through the START study, researchers seek to learn if a new drug treatment taken orally, called CT1812, can safely slow memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

Photo of female scientist in white coat holding tray of specimens

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