Older man and woman holding weights, exercising

Butler Hospital, part of the Care New England Health System, in collaboration with The Miriam Hospital, part of the Lifespan Heath System, has been chosen by the Alzheimer’s Association as one of five prominent healthcare networks across the United States to participate in the large-scale study testing whether healthy lifestyle interventions can protect cognitive abilities in older adults who are at increased risk for cognitive decline in the future.

The U.S. Study to Protect Brain Health Through Lifestyle Intervention to Reduce Risk (U.S. POINTER) is sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association and is the first such study to be conducted in a large, diverse group of Americans across the United States. Approximately 2,000 total volunteers will be enrolled nationally and followed for two years. The U.S. POINTER study’s initial site and Coordinating Center is at Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Other sites in California, Illinois and Texas have already begun recruitment.

Locally, the U.S. POINTER New England study site will enroll 400 volunteers from across Rhode Island and surrounding areas beginning this summer. The study site will be based at Butler Hospital’s Memory and Aging Program and conducted through a collaboration with at The Miriam Hospital, the Alzheimer’s Association Rhode Island Chapter and the Alzheimer’s Association Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter.

“We are so excited that Rhode Island and the southern New England region has been selected as the fifth site for the landmark U.S. POINTER Trial,” said Dr. Stephen Salloway, Director of the Memory and Aging Program at Butler Hospital and one of the Principal Investigators for the Rhode Island site. “Rhode Island has the right size and community spirit to successfully carry out this study, and our team at Butler is looking forward to working closely with our partners at The Miriam Hospital and the Alzheimer’s Association,” Dr. Salloway said. 

“We are privileged to be one of five sites in the U.S. POINTER trial and are excited to work with experts at Butler and the Alzheimer’s Association to conduct this important study,” said co-Principal Investigator, Rena Wing, Ph.D., Director of the Weight Control & Diabetes Research Center at The Miriam Hospital. “The Miriam Hospital is known for its research showing that lifestyle approaches are important for preventing heart disease and diabetes, but the U.S. POINTER study is the first large-scale, U.S. trial to investigate how a lifestyle intervention could potentially help reduce risk of cognitive decline.”

Donna McGowan, Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association Rhode Island Chapter, said, “The Alzheimer’s Association has stepped up to a vital leadership role to start recruiting locally for this very important research, in collaboration with Butler Hospital and The Miriam Hospital and other scientific partners across the country. More than 24,000 people are living with Alzheimer’s in Rhode Island alone, so finding an effective treatment and prevention is critically urgent. We look forward to working with the Principal Investigators (Drs. Salloway, Correia and  Wing) on this landmark study that we hope will ultimately benefit millions of Americans.”

Volunteers aged 60-79 who do not have any problems with memory or thinking and do not regularly exercise will be randomly placed into one of two lifestyle interventions.  One group will have a self-guided lifestyle program and the other group will have a more structured lifestyle program. Each program will encourage increased physical exercise, a healthier diet, cognitive and social stimulation, and regular monitoring of heart and vascular health.

In light of the challenges presented by COVID-19, appropriate precautions will be taken to ensure the health and safety of all trial participants and staff.  The first phase of screening for the study will be completed by mail and over the telephone; eligible individuals from this screening process will be invited to Butler Hospital to complete other procedures with special care, adhering to all safety guidelines set forth by Care New England and the Rhode Island Department of Health.  

For more information, visit butler.org/pointer or contact pointer@butler.org or 401-POINTER (401-764-6837).


Related Resources

Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry at Butler Hospital 

Learn more about research studies at the Memory and Aging Program at Butler Hospital 



If you’re 40+ with normal memory or mild memory loss, you can help in the fight against Alzheimer’s. Here’s how: butler.org/ALZregistry 

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