Dementia and Aging

Key Researcher

Anne Murray, MD, MSc, is a geriatrician, internist, and epidemiologist specializing in dementia research and care.  Dr. Murray is the Medical Director for The Berman Center for Outcomes and Clinical Research, a division of Hennepin Healthcare Research Institute at Hennepin County Medical Center.  She earned her medical degree from the University of Minnesota and completed her residency in internal medicine at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.  Dr. Murray completed her Geriatrics fellowship at Harvard Medical School, MA and a Master’s Degree in Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health.  Dr. Murray is also the section head of Clinical Epidemiology Division at Hennepin County Medical Center, and Professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School, with an adjunct appointment in Neurology.  She especially enjoys teaching as a Faculty member in the Geriatric Fellowship Program at HCMC, which trains future geriatricians.

Dr. Murray conducts research in the epidemiology and prevention of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.  She has a special focus in the epidemiology of cognitive impairment and dementia in patients with kidney disease, anemia, and diabetes, and is the Principal Investigator (PI) for the NIH-funded BRain IN Kidney Disease (BRINK) Study.  Dr. Murray is also the United States Co-PI (with John McNeil, Monash University, Australia) for the NIH ASPirin in the Reduction of Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) Study, which aims to determine the risks and benefits of low dose daily aspirin in preventing dementia, disability, and death.  She was the previous Midwest PI for the Actions to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetics-Memory in Diabetics (ACCORD MIND) and ACCORDION-MIND follow-on study.

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Top doctor Dr. Anne Murray’s extraordinary journey into gerontology has led her to remarkable discoveries that may help older adults tremendously – Minnesota Good Age Magazine, February 2017.


Dr. Murray has been working with dementia patients and researching the epidemiology of dementia for more than 20 years.  Today, she works with researchers in The Berman Center division of HHRI to study risk factors and outcomes for dementia.  Most recently, she has focused her research on how common cognitive impairment is among patients with kidney disease or diabetes, identifying risk factors for dementia, and the role of Alzheimer’s disease in cognitive impairment in chronic kidney disease patients.  Her work has demonstrated that patients who have advanced kidney disease, (who have about 30% of their kidney function remaining) but are not on dialysis, have an approximately 50% increased risk of memory problems and other types of cognitive impairment such as decision making difficulties.  Dr. Murray and her group have also identified having a high level of phosphorus in the blood as a risk factor for cognitive impairment, as well as anemia, or low hemoglobin.  Her recent MRI Study in the BRINK Study demonstrated that having either anemia or increased protein leakage in the urine increased the risk of decreased connections in the brain, also called connectivity, which increases the risk of cognitive impairment.  As high phosphorus is easily treatable, it may offer a way to decrease memory problems and dementia in patients with or without kidney disease.

Dr. Murray’s work has also shown that hemodialysis patients have approximately three times the risk of developing dementia compared to the general population.  About 70% of hemodialysis patients have moderate to severe cognitive impairment.  Her work has shown that kidney hemodialysis often causes severe temporary cognitive impairment during dialysis (or delirium), with apparent recovery after each dialysis session, which over time may contribute to dementia.  Dr. Murray suspects the impairment stems from a rapid drop of blood volume going to the brain, and brain swelling as a dialysis patient’s blood and waste products are removed from the body.  This blood flow hypothesis is supported by the fact that blood pressure in the brain drops during dialysis and that the incidence of stroke during the first month on dialysis is four times more common than chronic kidney patients who don’t start dialysis.

From 1999 – 2014, Dr. Murray was also an investigator with the National Institutes of Health sponsored United States Renal Data System Coordinating Center at HHRI. She conducted annual analysis of geriatric renal-related diseases in the U.S. for their Annual Data Report.  Her contributions included measuring the national prevalence and incidence of dementia and physical disability in chronic kidney disease and dialysis patients.  Her findings showed that at the time of starting dialysis, approximately 9% of patients were already unable to walk, and within one year, an additional 12% could no longer walk.

Dr. Murray plans to continue her dementia research with the goal of gaining a better understanding of the complex ways that kidney disease and diabetes increase the risk of dementia and disability, and discovering ways to prevent its development.  She and her ASPREE team also await the results of the ASPREE trial, anticipated in 2018, to see if low dose aspirin might reduce the risk of dementia, disability, and death in healthy older adults.

Select publications:

  1. McNeil JJ, Woods RL, Nelson MR, Murray AM, Reid CM, Kirpach B, Storey E, Shah RC, Wolfe RS, Tonkin AM, Newman AB, Williamson JD, Lockery JE, Margolis KL, Ernst ME, Abhayaratna WP, Stocks N, Fitzgerald SM, Trevaks RE, Orchard SG, Beilin LJ, Donnan GA, Gibbs P, Johnston CI, Grimm RH; for the ASPREE Investigator Group. Baseline Characteristics of Participants in the ASPREE (ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly) StudyJ Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2017 Jan;00(0):1-8. doi:10.1093/gerona/glw342.
  2. Murray AM, Hsu FC, Williamson JD, Bryan RN, Gerstein HC, Sullivan MD, Miller ME, Leng I, Lovato LL, Launer LJ; Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes Follow-On Memory in Diabetes (ACCORDION MIND) Investigators. ACCORDION MIND: results of the observational extension of the ACCORD MIND randomised trial.Diabetologia. 2017 Jan;60(1):69-80. PubMed PMID:27766347.
  3. Vemuri P, Knopman DS, Jack CR, Lundt ES, Weigand SD, Zuk SM, Thostenson KB,Reid RI, Kantarci K, Slinin Y, Lakshminarayan K, Davey CS, Murray AM. Association of Kidney Function Biomarkers with Brain MRI Findings: The BRINK Study. J Alzheimers Dis. 2016 Dec 6;55(3):1069-1082. PubMed PMID: 27767995.
  4. Murray AM, Bell EJ, Tupper DE, Davey CS, Pederson SL, Amiot EM, Miley KM, McPherson L, Heubner BM, Gilbertson DT, Foley RN, Drawz PE, Slinin Y, Rossom RC, Lakshminarayan K, Vemuri P, Jack CR, Knopman DS. The Brain in Kidney Disease (BRINK) Cohort Study: Design and Baseline Cognitive Function. Am J Kidney Dis. 2016;67(4):593-600.
  5. Wolfgram DF, Szabo A, Murray AM, Whittle J. Risk of Dementia in Peritoneal Dialysis Patients Compared with Hemodialysis Patients. Peritoneal Dialysis International.  2015;3-4;35(2):189-198.
  6. Murray AM, Seliger S, Lakshminarayan K, Herzog CA, Solid CA. Incidence of stroke associated with dialysis initiation in older patients. J Am Soc Nephrol 2013;24:1166–1173.