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U.S. Study to Protect Brain Health Through Lifestyle Intervention to Reduce Risk (U.S. POINTER)


The purpose of this study is to see if lifestyle changes, such as exercise, diet, and cognitively stimulating activities, can protect memory and thinking in older adults who are at an increased risk of significant memory loss. In this two-year study, people will be randomly assigned to participate in one of two lifestyle modification programs. Researchers will compare results of people who are given the education, support, and tools to develop and carry out healthier lifestyle practices with people who are assigned to a structured program of diet, physical and cognitive exercise, and management of cardiometabolic risks.

Minimum Age Maximum Age Gender Healthy Volunteers
60 Years 79 Years All Yes
January 8, 2019
November 2023

  • Sedentary
  • Poor diet
  • First-degree family history of a significant memory impairment (such as parent or sibling)
  • No cognitive impairment
  • Does not plan to travel for more than 3 months over the course of the study
  • Free of physical disabilities that would interfere with participation

  • Body mass index of 40 or more
  • Systolic blood pressure less than 130 mmHG, hemoglobin A1c less than 6%, and low-density lipoprotein less than 130 mg/dL
  • Any significant neurologic disease, including  dementia, mild cognitive impairment, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, normal pressure hydrocephalus, brain tumor, progressive supranuclear palsy, seizure disorder, subdural hematoma, multiple sclerosis, or history of significant head trauma with persistent effects
  • Prohibited medications:
    • Current or past use of Alzheimer's disease medications, including cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine
    • Psychoactive medications within last 3 months, including tricyclic antidepressants, antipsychotics, mood-stabilizing psychotropic agents (e.g., lithium salts), psychostimulants, opiate analgesics, antiparkinsonian medications, anticonvulsant medications (except gabapentin and pregabalin for non-seizure conditions), systemic corticosteroids, or medications with significant central anticholinergic activity
    • Past or current use of insulin to treat type 2 diabetes
  • Major depression within past year
  • History of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia
  • Alcohol or substance abuse or dependence within past 2 years
  • Significant cardiovascular disease, including Class III or IV congestive heart failure, clinically significant aortic stenosis, history of cardiac arrest, or uncontrolled angina
  • Serious conduction disorder (such as third-degree heart block), uncontrolled arrhythmia, or new Q waves or ST-segment depressions (greater than 3 mm) on electrocardiogram
  • Heart attack, major heart surgery (such as valve replacement, bypass surgery, stent placement, or angioplasty), deep vein thrombosis, or pulmonary embolus in past 6 months
  • Large vessel stroke in the past 2 years
  • History of transient ischemia attack (TIA) or small vessel stroke in the last 6 months, or TIA occurring more than 6 months ago with residual effects
  • Lung disease requiring either regular use of corticosteroids or supplemental oxygen (inhaled steroids for asthma permissible)
  • Kidney disease
  • Significant abnormalities in laboratory blood tests
  • History within the last 2 years of treatment for primary or recurrent malignant disease, excluding non-melanoma skin cancers, resected cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma in situ, basal cell carcinoma, cervical carcinoma in situ, or in situ prostate cancer with normal prostate-specific antigen post-treatment
  • History of hip fracture, joint replacement, or spinal surgery in the last 6 months
  • Currently receiving physical therapy or cardiopulmonary rehabilitation
  • History of a malabsorptive bariatric procedure, such as gastric bypass or biliopancreatic diversion; other bariatric procedures involving restriction, including a sleeve or band, are allowed
  • If female, currently pregnant, pregnant within the past 6 months, or planning to become pregnant within the next 6 months
  • Residing in an assisted living facility or nursing home
  • Receiving hospice care

For more information about this study, visit the U.S. POINTER website.

Name City State Zip Status Primary Contact
Northern California
Sacramento California 95616 Recruiting Roberto A. Ramos
Chicago Illinois 60304 Recruiting Meera Sotor, MPH
North Carolina
Winston-Salem North Carolina 27157 Recruiting Elizabeth Chmelo, MS
New England--Rhode Island
Providence Rhode Island 02906 Recruiting Samuel Slezak, MS
Houston Texas 77030 Recruiting Raven Small

Wake Forest University Health Sciences

  • Alzheimer's Association

Name Role Affiliation
Laura D. Baker, PhD Principal Investigator Wake Forest University Health Sciences
Mark A. Espeland, PhD Principal Investigator Wake Forest University Health Sciences
Rachel A. Whitmer, PhD Principal Investigator University of California, Davis
Miia Kivipelto, MD, PhD Principal Investigator Karolinska Institutet

Name Phone Email
Wilson Somerville 336-716-6177
Laura D. Baker, PhD 336-713-8831


U.S. Study to Protect Brain Health Through Lifestyle Intervention to Reduce Risk