The Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorders Center at Rhode Island Hospital

The Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorders Center was established in 1989 to provide specialized consultation for people with a variety of memory disorders. Since then it has become a regional referral center for southeastern New England, serving patients from Connecticut and Massachusetts, as well as Rhode Island.

There are many different kinds of chronic memory disorders. The most common chronic memory disorder is Alzheimer's disease, which affects approximately 4.5 million people in the United States. Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disorder of the brain that slowly destroys a person's memory and ability to learn, reason, communicate and perform daily activities. Another common memory disorder, vascular dementia occurs when blood flow to the nerve cells in the brain is reduced. Because there are more than 70 different causes of dementia, a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation is an important first step when dealing with symptoms of memory loss.

Some people with memory difficulties are actually suffering from depression, rather than a progressive brain disorder. Although they may have symptoms similar to early Alzheimer's disease, they respond to treatment once a correct diagnosis is made.

In Rhode Island, with its large elderly population, Alzheimer's Disease is particularly common, affecting an estimated 20,000 men and women. As a result, many of the Center's services are tailored to this particular problem.

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer's disease and other degenerative memory disorders, but new treatments are available to help alleviate patients' symptoms and slow their progression. Aggressive research studies are ongoing and are continually shedding new light on these illnesses.

Comprehensive Assessment

The center's neurologists are memory specialists, who offer their patients the latest advances in memory disorder diagnosis and treatment.

To ensure an accurate diagnosis we provide a thorough evaluation of each patient, which includes a careful look at his or her medical history, a physical examination and neuropsychological testing of mental functions. Neuroimaging - positron emission tomography (PET), single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and computed tomography (CT) - may also be used during the evaluation process, along with other laboratory tests.

In addition to this clinical diagnostic evaluation and treatment, we offer:

  • Consultation with Rhode Island Hospital staff psychiatrists for counseling and treatment of behavioral problems
  • Genetic testing for hereditary dementia
  • Social services and referrals to help our patients and their families find the support they need within their communities
  • Educational literature from the Rhode Island Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association and other organizations
  • Community lectures and support group presentations
  • Support for our patients' caregivers, who are an important part of each patient's health care team. Family members are encouraged to attend the office visits and take an active role in both the evaluation and the development of management plans.

Making Plans

After the evaluation, a plan to manage the memory problem is developed. This plan, which is outlined during a follow-up visit to the office, often includes:

  • Counseling about the diagnosis and prognosis
  • Information on support services
  • Medications for symptoms like memory loss, sleep disturbance, anxiety or depression

The patient's management plan is recommended to his or her primary physician in a complete consultation letter. In some cases, the plan may be instituted by the neurologist at the Center.

Patients and their families are encouraged to return for follow-up visits every three to six months to monitor progress.

In addition, the Center's ongoing research program assures patients that they will be kept aware of the latest advances in treatment.


Clinical research is an important part of the Center. We support the Brown Brain Tissue Resource Center and encourage brain donations, blood and cerebrospinal fluid specimens from patients to further vital research at Brown into the pathology of Alzheimer's disease and related dementia disorders. We support research on cerebrospinal fluid dynamics and biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease.

In keeping with our comprehensive approach for helping patients, we are working with other institutions to understand the various cognitive and behavioral problems of persons with dementia. The Center is conducting major longitudinal studies of drivers with dementia and caregiving for persons with dementia, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. Other research areas of interest include:

The Center is a primary site for clinical trials sponsored by the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS). funded by the National Institutes of Health.

We also participate in large multicenter clinical trials of investigational drugs, which may help to alleviate symptoms and slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

For more information on the Center's research programs and whether you could participate, e-mail or call Michele Astphan at (401)444-6440.

Ongoing and Upcoming Clinical Trials

PF-04447943 National multicenter study to determine whether a phosphodiesterase inhibitor can improve cogntion and function over three months in persons with Alzheimer's disease.
Bapineuzumab National multicenter study to determine whether intravenous administration of a specific antibody against beta amyloid can slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease over 18 months.
PF-04494700 RAGE inhibitor National multicenter trial to evaluate safety and efficacy of a novel drug for the reduction of beta amyloid, targeted against Receptors for Advanced Glycation End-products, in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.
IGIV National multicenter trial to determine whether intravenous administration of multiple antibodies can slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

The Center's Staff

Brian R. Ott, MD

Henry Querfurth, MD

Michael A Friedman, MD

Colin J Harrington, MD
Adult Psychiatry Consult Service

Geoffrey N Tremont, PHD

Holly K Westervelt, PHD

Jennifer E Davis, PHD
Adult Neuropsychology

Ronald Cohen, PHD
Staff Psychologist II
Center for Behavioral and Preventiv
The Memorial Hospital

Lori A. Daiello Pharm.D, BCPP
Doctor of Pharmacy

To Make An Appointment call (401)444-6440
The Center is located at Rhode Island Hospital, Ambulatory Patient Center (APC) -- 6th Floor, 593 Eddy Street, Providence, Rhode Island, 02903.
Valet parking is available at the entrance to the APC building.

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Copyright 2010, The Neurology Foundation