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Expertise in Alzheimer's Disease

LEADS: Investigating early-onset Alzheimer’s disease

Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease – often referred to as "younger Alzheimer’s disese" to avoid confusion with early-stage Alzheimer’s – affects individuals between the ages of 40 and 65 at the time of diagnosis. This rare form of the disease affects approximately 5% of the 6.5 million people in the United States diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The Longitudinal Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Study (LEADS), the largest study of its kind in the world, is interested in exploring sporadic early-onset Alzheimer's disease.


To learn more about LEADS, or to become a participant or donate to the study, visit the LEADS website.


700 participants
$78 million in NIH grant dollars
18 clinical research sites 

Finding answers

Led by Liana Apostolova, MD, LEADS partners with an elite team of researchers from across the country and world to compare baseline and longitudinal cognitive and functional characteristics of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease with those of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The observational study follows 100 cognitively normal patients and 600 participants who have some type of cognitive impairment — typically either early-onset Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease — at 18 sites across the United States. LEADS, driven by researchers at IU School of Medicine, aims to fill the gap in research for those with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease to better identify optimal outcome measures and eventually develop a cure for this devastating disease. The clinical data collected by investigators at IU School of Medicine and their partners nationwide will enable scientists to discover additional genetic contributors to the development of Alzheimer’s disease as well as new clinical and cognitive outcome measures for use in the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Gaining a better understanding of Alzheimer's disease

IU School of Medicine researcher Liana Apostolova is leading efforts to investigate early-onset Alzheimer’s disease – research which may ultimately help unearth the next cure for the disease.

Observing clinical research participants

Cognitively impaired participants in LEADS will attend five study visits over four years, and cognitively normal participants will participate for three visits over two years. Study visits will be split across multiple days for the 700 participants at 18 U.S. sites, and physician-researchers will conduct general medical and neurologic exams and cognitive testing.

Using cutting-edge research

Researchers at LEADS use the most up-to-date and state-of-the-art technologies in the Alzheimer's disease research field to advance their understanding of the hallmark proteins of the disease through MRI/PET neuroimaging, blood and cerebrospinal biomarkers, genetic testing and cognitive and clinical assessments. All data collected in LEADS is openly shared with physicians and scientists across the United States and world.

A paper with a graph on it lies in the foreground, with a computer in the background.

Taking a deeper look into the disease

Neuroscientists in LEADS are developing side studies to further investigate the impact of early-onset Alzheimer's. This includes a clinical research study on interventions of physical exercise and cognitive training, an exploration into the effect of neuropsychiatric symptoms on participants and a project assisting caregivers of patients.

LEADS investigators

Liana G. Apostolova, MD, MS

Associate Dean of Alzheimer's Disease Research

Dustin Hammers, PhD

Associate Professor of Neurology

Angelina Polsinelli, PhD

Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology

latest leads news

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