Mass General Magazine (September 20, 2010): Unforgettable Breakthroughs in Alzheimer's

Publication Date: 
Mon, 09/20/2010

Back in the 1980s, it was becoming evident that Alzheimer's disease was an imposing challenge whose weight on health and society was just beginning to be felt. As people began to live longer and the U.S. population began to age, more and more people were finding themselves on the receiving end of a diagnosis of this slow but deadly neurodegenerative disease. By the time President Ronald Reagan wrote a letter to his "fellow Americans" in November 1994 announcing his diagnosis of Alzheimer's, the disease was already a household name - and the scientific community, keen on finding a cure, had just begun to congeal.

At Massachusetts General Hospital, one of the country's first core teams of research scientists came together and cast a wide net of investigation, with ealry studies in genetics, biology and imaging. Today, fortified with a team exponentially larger, some of the most important breakthroughs in understanding Alzheimer's have emerged from Mass General labs and clinics, positioning the hospital as a go-to source for research, diagnosis and treatment.

A diagnosis today is nothing short of frightening; there is no cure for the disease and doctors can only offer patients medications that slow Alzheimer's progression. But some of the most revealing discoveries have emerged in the last five years right here at MGH while new studies are underway, holding promise for the future of individuals and families burdened with this diagnosis, and perhaps one day, a cure.