UW Alzheimer’s prevention study marks 20th anniversary

MADISON, Wis. – 20 years ago, the UW School of Medicine and Public Health launched its landmark Alzheimer’s Prevention study.

The Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention study started with just one person but has since grown to over 1,700 participants, the largest family history study of Alzheimer’s in the world.

70% of participants have a family history of Alzheimer’s disease. The study follows them over time, learning about how biological and lifestyle factors may affect the disease.

Participants check in with researchers every two years for memory testing, blood draws, and interviews.

Researchers said that the longer participants stay with the study, the more can be learned about how Alzheimer’s progresses.

“Our participants and our researchers are a team,” principal investigator Sterling Johnson said in a statement Tuesday. “We are enabling real progress toward a future of delaying, preventing and ending Alzheimer’s disease.”

Through the results of the study, researchers have been able to learn how to detect subtle cognitive changes that may be brought about by the disease and the impact of a healthy lifestyle on slowing cognitive decline.