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Michelle C. Carlson, PhD

  • Professor

Departmental Affiliations

Contact Information

624 N. Broadway
Hampton House 805
Baltimore, Maryland 21205



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PhD, Duke University, 1995
MA, Duke University, 1993
BA, University of Minnesota, 1988


Dr. Carlson is clinically and experimentally trained. She leads investigations to identify biomarkers of early dementia and evaluates both environmental and pharmacologic interventions of dementia risk.  She served as the Principal Investigator (PI) of the Women’s Health and Aging Study Cognitive Pathways study, and the Johns Hopkins site PI of the national Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory (GEMS) trial to prevent and delay dementia and cognitive aging.  Dr. Carlson currently serves as the Johns Hopkins site PI of the national Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS), and as Project leader of the P01-funded Baltimore Experience Corps Trial (BECT) to evaluate the impact of high-intensity service in elementary schools on older adults’ cognitive, brain, and functional health. Within this trial, Dr. Carlson obtained funds to recruit a nested Brain Health Study (BHS) to evaluate the Experience Corps program’s impact on brain health through changes in life style activity as measured by accelerometry and assisted GPS.  Dr. Carlson has over 82 peer-reviewed publications and 4 first-authored chapters. She serves on the editorial board of leading neuropsychological and gerontologic journals.  


To help translate research into public health practice, Dr. Carlson is also engaged in community service as President of the non-profit, Intergenerational Community Services (ICS). ICS seeks to promote and develop intergenerational programs that harness the wisdom of aging adults to help develop young minds.   

Honors and Awards

Faculty Initiative Fund, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, January 2007

Stephen R. Bechtel Award, 5 consecutive years, December 2004-09

Johns Hopkins Older Adult Independence Center’s (OAIC), National Pepper junior faculty advisory committee representative, 2004-2008

Division 40 American Psychological Association Award for Excellence in Scientific Presentation, July 28-August 1, 2004, Honolulu, Hawaii

American Psychological Association (APA) sponsored awardee, Advanced Training Institute in functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), Massachusetts General Hospital, June 2003

National Institute of Aging (NIA) R01 Grant, October 2002: Cognitive Pathways to Disability

National Institute of Aging (NIA) R03 Grant, October 2001: Does cognitive activity promote healthy aging?

National Institute of Aging (NIA) R03 Grant, October 2000: Quantifying the psychometric properties of cognitive activity

American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR) Award, June 1999: Characterizing cognitive activity in older adults

National Research Service Award, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 1997

National Research Service Award, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 1995

  • dementia, cognitive aging, executive function, cognitive activity, physical activity, interventions, prevention, brain health, functional MRI, GPS, accelerometry
  • Mielke MM. Bandaru VV, Haughey NJ, Rabins PV, Lyketsos CG, Carlson MC. Serum sphingomyelins and ceramides are early predictors of memory impairment. Neurobiology of Aging. 2010;31(1):17-24. Epub 2008 May 1.

  • Barnes D, Haight TJ, Mehta KM, Carlson MC, Kuller LH, Tager IB. Secondhand smoke, vascular disease and dementia incidence: Findings from the Cardiovascular Health Cognition Study. Am J Epidemiol. 2010 Feb 1;171(3):292-302. Epub 2010 Jan 5.

  • Parisi JM, Rebok GW, Fried LP, Seeman TE, Tan EJ, Carlson MC, Tanner EK, Piferi RL. Can the wisdom of aging be  activated and make a difference societally? Educational Gerontology 2010. 35, 867-879.

  • Snitz BE, O'Meara ES, Carlson MC, Arnold AM, Ives DG, Rapp SR, Saxton J, Lopez OL, Dunn LO, Sink KM, DeKosky ST; Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory (GEM) Study Investigators.  Ginkgo biloba for preventing cognitive decline in older adults: a randomized trial. JAMA. 2009 Dec 23; 302(24):2663-70.

  • Kuller LH, Ives DG, Fitzpatrick AL, Carlson MC, Mercado C, Lopez OL, Burke GL, Furberg CD, DeKosky ST, for the Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory.  Does Ginkgo biloba reduce the risk of cardiovascular events?   Study Investigators. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. Epub 2009 Nov 24.