For Patients: Alzheimer’s Disease Research
OHSU’s Layton Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Center has been a research leader since 1990. The Layton Center:
- Includes dozens of scientists seeking new ways to understand aging and treat dementia.
- Has produced breakthroughs that help doctors predict thinking and memory problems.
- Supports research focused on early detection of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Offers patients access to clinical trials of promising new treatments.
You can also call us about enrolling in a clinical trial at 503-494-7647.
Clinical trials are vital to our research. They allow us to:
- Better understand the aging process.
- Understand how brain function changes in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Test ways to slow or prevent the disease’s progress.
- Better understand other forms of dementia.
At the OHSU’s Layton Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Center, our program includes:
International expertise: Our experts collaborate with other top programs worldwide. We are the only center in Oregon — and among fewer than three dozen nationwide — funded by the National Institute on Aging.
Innovative partnerships: We work with OHSU’s Oregon Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Neurological Disorders. ORCCAMIND is a leader in complementary and alternative medicine for dementia.
Advanced technology: We helped start the Oregon Center for Aging and Technology. ORCATECH uses technology to assess the health and independence of aging Americans.
The ACTNOW research registry offers a way to support and take part in studies. Participants in ACTNOW (Alzheimer’s Comprehensive Treatment Network of Oregon and Washington) receive research news. They also get information about taking part in studies on aging and dementia.
OHSU research programs
Our scientists are working to discover the causes of Alzheimer's disease, to find effective treatments and to seek a cure. We're also seeking ways to better care for caregivers. Promising areas of research include:
In-home and wearable technology: Dr. Jeffrey Kaye, Layton Center director, and colleagues are using home sensors and wearable devices to build a one-of-a-kind database on how people age. The devices gather data on older adults’ sleep, mobility, weight and thinking abilities. Researchers can use it to look for health changes, for example, or assess how treatments are working. Learn more about the Collaborative Aging Research Using Technology study.
Caring for caregivers: OHSU has won a five-year grant from the National Institute on Aging to find ways to improve the health and well-being of Alzheimer's caregivers. Allison Lindaur, Ph.D., NP, will lead the first of two pilot projects.
Early signs of Alzheimer’s: We are doing clinical trials to see how substances called biomarkers may identify Alzheimer’s in its earliest stages. These biomarkers are found in blood and in the fluid that surrounds the spinal cord and brain. Based on studies by Dr. Joseph Quinn, this research is important because treatment is most effective when Alzheimer’s is diagnosed early.
Walking and remembering: The participants in this unique clinical trial gather in North and Northeast Portland to walk and reminisce about their neighborhood. The study aims to improve community well-being and cognitive health among older Black people. As a group, Black people have about twice the risk of Alzheimer’s as white people. Raina Croff, Ph.D., oversees the study, Sharing History through Active Reminiscence and Photo-Imagery, or SHARP.
Predicting memory loss: Dr. Lisa Silbert, in work at OHSU’s Neuroimaging Lab, found areas in the brain where low blood flow causes damage called white matter lesions. These lesions seem to predict difficulty with memory. Her team’s research could lead to new dementia treatments.
Fighting isolation: People who are often alone have a higher risk of thinking and memory problems, including Alzheimer's. Hiroko Dodge, Ph.D., and her research team are studying whether thinking and memory improve through regular video chats. Learn more about the I-CONECT Study.
Genetics and environment: Doris E. Kretzschmar, Ph.D., uses the common fruit fly to study how genetic changes lead to Alzheimer’s. Her lab also looks at how lifestyle changes such as disrupted sleep affect the disease.
Fish oil and dementia: High blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes affect how blood flows to our brains. These changes can increase the risk of dementia. Dr. Lynne Shinto, N.D., M.P.H., studies whether fish oil commonly sold as a dietary supplement can improve blood flow and lower dementia risk.
Telehealth: Allison Lindauer, Ph.D., NP, studies dementia caregiving and telehealth (health care delivered by phone or video chat). Her team found that virtual visits increase access to care for patients, and reduce the burden on family members. The team also uses video conferences to educate providers. The Dementia 360 project, using OHSU’s ECHO Network, improves provider confidence in diagnosing and treating dementia.
Botanical medicine: Amala Soumyanath, Ph.D., and Joseph Quinn, Ph.D., are studying how an extract of the herb Centella asiatica affects processes in the brain or body that are associated with memory loss. Centella asiatica is traditionally used for memory improvement.
In the last three decades, our team has published more than 800 articles in top scientific journals. Recent articles include:
- Prolonged Physical Inactivity in Older Adult Couples: A Dyadic Analysis Using Actigraphy
- Monitoring Behaviors of Patients With Late-Stage Dementia Using Passive Environmental Sensing Approaches: A Case Series
- Whitest City in America: A Smaller Black Community’s Experience of Gentrification, Displacement, and Aging in Place
Find more of our published work on dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other topics.
Learn about current opportunities and how to enroll in a clinical trial:
For researchers and health care professionals
Learn more about Layton Center research, data repositories and grant opportunities.
Life as a study subject
Meet Ed Parker, who talks about what it’s like to take part in several OHSU brain and aging studies —at the same time.