At the end of 2015, I signed up as a volunteer for Alzheimer’s disease research through www.alz.org. Around May 2016, I received a call from Emory University Medical School asking if I’d be willing to participate in the Vascular Study as it relates to Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Research at Emory study included people over age 50 and would last for 2 years. It only required annual visits to Atlanta for memory tests, vascular tests, 2 MRIs and 2 lumbar punctures.
Alzheimer’s Research at Emory
Ihab Hajjar, MD is the Primary Investigator for the VASCULAR study (Vascular Contributors to prodromal Alzheimer’s disease).
They were looking for 200 participants, 100 individuals with memory loss and 100 matched controls. I agreed to participate and in June 2016, I had my first visit. They took blood for testing and asked lots of questions to determine if I was eligible. I was nervous after this visit. They gave me sample tests and I wasn’t sure how well I did. Before the actual testing started, I realized that whatever I did would be fine. They were looking for real results, not something I could study for.
The next 2 visits included memory tests, MRI, sonogram of arteries and other vascular tests, and the lumbar puncture (spinal tap). They had originally planned to have all tests completed in one visit but quickly realized it was too much for one day. Each visit takes between 3-4 hours.
The research coordinator calls every three months to update my information. The call consists of questions about general health and to ask specifically about recent hospitalizations or memory loss diagnosis since the last visit.
Last year was for memory testing only so I went to their research center for one visit.
At year 2 (this year) the entire process from the first year’s visits was repeated. My visit was completed this week with the lumbar puncture. I learned that they have extended the study for 2 years and was asked if I would be willing to continue. It was such a relief to be finished with the lumbar puncture but when I was asked to continue, I said yes.
My mother had Alzheimer’s disease and passed away in February 2017. It was awful watching the disease progress with her. Being a part of the research has been good for me. I don’t know if this study will help find a cure, maybe it will only help eliminate another possible cause?
Volunteers Still Needed
They are still looking for volunteers for this study (they’ve increased to 350 participants) so if you have any interest in signing up, let me know. I’ll get you the contact information for the research coordinator to contact for more information.