The Wake Forest Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center is enrolling clinical research participants in the Healthy Brain Study. The purpose of this study is to follow participants over time, collecting cognitive data, brain images and biological samples at regular intervals to better understand what constitutes brain aging and which risk factors lead to Alzheimer’s disease. The Healthy Brain Study is enrolling a diverse group of people with emphasis on participants with mild cognitive impairment and those from underrepresented groups. The ADRC and the Healthy Brain Study support additional clinical studies on cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease by referring our well-characterized participants and sharing scientific expertise. If you or someone you know is interested in participating in one of these currently enrolling studies, please call 336-716-MIND (6463).

The ADRC has received approval for its Brain Bank initiative and is encouraging participants to consider end-of-life brain donation to help our scientists learn more in their fight against Alzheimer’s.  After the brain autopsy, family members will receive information about their loved one’s brain status that they may find useful. The Brain Bank initiative will be part of the Center’s mission to share its resources with other investigators. The ADRC routinely shares data, images and biological samples with national repositories and with investigators at Wake Forest and around the world, facilitating important research into the mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease.  

Why Participate in a Clinical Research Study?

There are many reasons to participate in an Alzheimer’s clinical study. You may want to:

  • Help others, including your own family members, who may be at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Receive a thorough cognitive assessment and follow-up over time.
  • Learn more about memory and your health.
  • Be among the first to learn about promising interventions for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s.
  • Get information about local support groups and available resources.

Clinical trials and observational studies allow research professionals to partner with volunteer participants to work together to discover new and effective strategies to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s.

To accomplish this goal, we need all kinds of volunteers to participate in our research studies. This includes:

  • Men and women
  • People from different ethnic and racial backgrounds
  • People who are concerned about their memory
  • People who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s
  • People who have family members with memory problems
  • People who have certain medical conditions that may increase their risk of developing memory problems
  • People who are completely healthy

A treatment may work differently depending on the group. Without sufficient representation of a certain group, we can’t be sure about the success of a treatment for members of that group. Additionally, without a sufficient number of participants, a study may be delayed or produce limited or inconclusive results.

Brain Donation

Why is brain donation important?

Brain donation helps researchers better understand the causes of and treatment options for Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. One donated brain can provide tissue for hundreds of research studies. In this way, it provides a gift of hope to future generations at risk of developing dementia.

Why should I consider donating my brain?

Brain donation provides your loved ones with a definitive diagnosis. This may offer your family closure and help them assess their risk for developing Alzheimer's disease and/or related dementias.

Additionally, it is a gift for future generations. Your donation will increase the chances that better diagnostic tools and treatment options are developed for Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. Brain donation is of greater value if we understand the changes in a person’s brain health over time. If you or a loved one is interested in brain donation, please contact us at 336-716-MIND or for information on becoming a participant in our clinical research study. 

Learn More about Brain Donation

Frequently Asked Questions about Brain Donation 

Why My Grandmother Carried a Plastic Brain in Her Purse: 
She is donating her brain to science, so I visited the place where it will end up

Nina Silverberg, the director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Centers program at the NIH’s National Institute on Aging, says that a [brain] donation ‘is of much more value if we know about the person when they’re living’—that is, if the person has participated in a longitudinal study of brain function. Silverberg explains that the Alzheimer’s Disease Centers conduct annual tracking assessments that include cognitive, neurological, behavioral and linguistic tests for observing the changes in brain function as people age.

"Another major challenge, Silverberg says, is obtaining tissue from donors of varied backgrounds. ‘There’s a stigma in some cultures around even talking about donating organs, or even death at all, but it’s tremendously important that we get diverse populations to donate their brains,’ so that resulting treatments are broadly applicable, she says.”


What are biomarkers?

Biomarkers are measures of what is happening inside the living body, shown by the results of laboratory and imaging tests. Biomarkers can help doctors and scientists diagnose diseases and health conditions, find health risks in a person, monitor responses to treatment, and see how a person's disease or health condition changes over time. 

Learn more about biomarkers, such as brain imaging, cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers, blood tests and genetic testing.