Following the 2017 report in Lancet that up to 35% of dementia risk is modifiable, Brown University has been selected as one of five universities to join the U.S. POINTER trial to test a multi-domain lifestyle intervention of vigorous exercise, a Mediterranean diet, social and cognitive stimulation and heart health to delay memory loss in individuals 60-79 years old who are at risk for Alzheimer’s disease. 

The study is funded by the Alzheimer’s Association and the National Institutes of Health, and it is based on positive results from the FINGER trial in Finland. The Rhode Island/New England POINTER team is made up of a partnership between the Memory and Aging Program at Butler Hospital, the Diabetes and Weight Loss Program at the Miriam Hospital and the Rhode Island and Massachusetts/New Hampshire chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association. Brown is also participating in World Wide Fingers, an international network collaborating to prevent cognitive impairment and dementia worldwide.

What is the U.S. POINTER study?

The U.S. Study to Protect Brain Health through Lifestyle Intervention to Reduce Risk (U.S. POINTER) is a Phase 3, two-year clinical trial to evaluate whether lifestyle interventions that simultaneously target multiple risk factors protect cognitive function in older adults at increased risk for cognitive decline. A recent study in Finland (the FINGER trial) found that a combination of physical and cognitive exercise, diet and social activity protected cognitive function in healthy older adults who were at increased risk of significant memory loss. U.S. POINTER is the first such study to be conducted in a large group of Americans. Approximately 2,000 participants will be enrolled across five study sites in the United States.   

What is the purpose of the U.S. POINTER study?

The purpose of this study is to see if lifestyle changes, adapted to American culture and delivered in the community, can protect memory and thinking (cognition) as people age. Two lifestyle interventions will be compared, which vary in format. Eligible participants will be randomly assigned to one of the groups to evaluate whether cognitive benefits from a structured program differ from a self-guided program.


This study is for men and women aged 60 – 79 who are not regular exercisers (generally less than three times per week) and who may have risks for memory loss in the future, such as a family history of memory problems or slightly high blood pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar. Interested participants can learn more about the U.S. POINTER study by contacting the Memory and Aging Program Outreach Team at 401-455-6402 or by sending an email to [email protected].

Research Leads

  • Stephen Salloway

    Associate Director of Clinical Research for the Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research, Martin M. Zucker Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Professor of Neurology

    Biomarker and drug development for Alzheimer’s disease

  • Rena Wing

    Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior

  • Hwamee Oh

    Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Associate Professor of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences