University of Wisconsin
School of Medicine and Public Health

Natascha Merten, PHD, MS

Scientist II

GERIATRICS Staff

CLINICAL SCIENCE CENTER
600 HIGHLAND AVE
MADISON, WI 53792-0001

(608) 263-6110

Okonkwo Lab

Education

  • University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany – MS in Psychology
  • University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany – PhD in Epidemiology
  • University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI – Postdoc in Epidemiology and Population Health

Professional Activities 

Dr. Natascha Merten is a Scientist in the Okonkwo Lab within the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology. She is also an Honorary Affiliate Scientist in the Department of Population Health Sciences and an Affiliate of the Center for Demography of Health and Aging and a member of the McPherson Eye Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Merten is also the Director of the EpiSense Program within the Department of Population Health Sciences and her leadership and mentoring skills have recently been awarded by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Postdoctoral Association Postdoc Excellence Award in Mentoring. Dr. Merten is a member of many professional organizations including the International Society to Advance Alzheimer's Research and Treatment (ISTAART), German Psychological Society (DGPs), Society for Epidemiologic Research (SER), American Auditory Society (AAS) and the Gerontological Society of America (GSA). Within the GSA’s Emerging Scholar and Professional Organization, Dr. Merten has become engaged as the chair of the Dissertation Writing Group. Her research expertise has been awarded by a Rising Star Award at the Sensory Impairment and Cognitive Decline Workshop of the National Institute on Aging and the American Geriatrics Society and has been acknowledged by a recent invitation to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Expert Panel to update the Strategic Research Plan for 2022-2027.

Research Interests

View Dr. Merten's publications on NCBI My Bibliography

As a psychologist (MS) and aging epidemiologist (PhD) by training Dr. Merten’s research focuses on human brain aging. She aims to assess aging with a holistic approach through investigating general aging processes that affect multiple domains of brain aging focusing on sensory and cognitive aging and dementia. She considers risk factors of Alzheimer’s pathology and inflammation, vascular and metabolic systems to identify common pathways of neurodegeneration and brain aging. In this context, she also wants to investigate early biomarkers of aging to identify individuals at risk for decline in various health conditions. In addition, she aims to assess potentially modifiable risk factors of brain aging with a particular focus on the roles of psychosocial and behavioral factors. Understanding shared etiological pathways and identifying common modifiable risk factors has the potential to improve prevention and treatment strategies for a wide range of age-related diseases.