Study examines biomarkers, economic factors that may increase risk for cognitive decline

Faculty News Research News
By Angie Hunt

A team of Iowa State University researchers is looking into how retina scans can reveal risk of Alzheimers disease

A team of Iowa State University researchers, including associate professor of human development and family studies Tricia Neppl, is collaborating with other universities’ researchers and community programs to explore the idea that retina scans may reveal a patient’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease before early symptoms set in.

Numerous studies have shown the inner layer of the retina is thinner in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Neppl and Heather Greenlee, professor of biomedical sciences, are working with Natalie Denburg of the University of Iowa to collect retinal images, along with cognitive measurements and data on economic and social factors to determine if this information can identify risk for the disease.

The researchers will recruit participants from the Family Transitions Project, which Neppl directs. This existing data will help researchers identify potential demographic and social risk factors.

“We’ve shown that social and economic factors impact physical health, but this will be the first time to test cognitive health and decline,” Neppl said.

Read the full ISU News story.

Key contacts

Tricia Neppl, associate professor, Human Development and Family Studies,, 515-294-8502

Angie Hunt, ISU News Service,, 515-294-8986

By Angie Hunt