Reisa Sperling awarded $8 million grant from the Alzheimer's Association

March 7, 2014

The Martinos Center's Reisa Sperling has been awarded an $8 million grant from the Alzheimer's Association—the largest research grant it has ever given—to expand the scope of research into the devastating disease.

The grant will support the Longitudinal Evaluation of Amyloid Risk and Neurodegeneration (LEARN) study, which will accompany the pioneering Anti-Amyloid Treatment in Asymptomatic Alzheimer's Disease (A4) Study, a clinical study that Sperling and colleagues are preparing to launch in the next few months.

The A4 Study will focus on people who have not been diagnosed with Alzheimer's but are thought to be at risk because they have a buildup of the amyloid beta protein in their brains. The clinical study will seek to determine whether treatments that block this buildup can slow or prevent Alzheimer's in people who are not otherwise showing symptoms. 

LEARN will follow individuals who do not have elevated amyloid in order to determine the biological changes that are related to cognitive decline. This can help to elucidate the findings from the A4 Study.

"Although research suggests that older people with elevated amyloid-beta build-up are at increased risk of cognitive decline, there is a critical need to demonstrate a differential rate of clinical decline between amyloid positive and amyloid negative individuals on a standardized set of clinical outcomes," Sperling said in a statement. "LEARN will attempt to confirm the important expectation that the cognitive outcomes used in the A4 Study's treatment arms do, in fact, manifest amyloid-related cognitive decline at a faster rate. We will also learn a great deal about the non-amyloid drivers of cognitive decline to facilitate future trials aimed at other age-related brain processes."

Read more about the grant in the White Coat Notes blog on