Digging deeper: our stories

Fixing memory

With a pilot grant from the Harvard NeuroDiscovery Center, researcher Brandon Ally was able to make important inroads in understanding how memory could be restored in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. By supporting the work of junior researchers like Dr. Ally, the NeuroDiscovery Center is making an important investment in hope and progress.


Dr. Ally — who was a research fellow at Brigham & Women’s Hospital at the time he received the pilot grant — measured biochemical activity in different areas of the brain in Alzheimer’s disease patients receiving medications. He found that brain regions known to be involved in processing and storing information became activated after several weeks of treatment with a group of drugs called cholinesterase inhibitors. The drugs provide promising candidates for treating memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease.

Now an assistant professor at the Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center, Dr. Ally credits the NeuroDiscovery Center for providing the initial resources for recruiting patients and supporting their participation in the study.

About the Harvard NeuroDiscovery Center

Established in 2001 by Dr. Joseph Martin (Dean of Harvard Medical School, 1997-2007), the Harvard NeuroDiscovery Center is a pioneering biomedical research group focused on ending suffering from neurodegenerative diseases. By drawing on the intellectual strength and proven capability of the Harvard medical community and colleagues throughout the world, the NeuroDiscovery Center has developed a unique approach to understanding and treating these devastating diseases. 

Our focus:

  • Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and other degenerative diseases of the brain.

  • Combining academic creativity with a business-like approach to ensure a focused and efficient effort to advance the search for cures.

  • Accelerating the pace of progress, from scientific discoveries to meaningful patient treatments.

  • Real collaboration across the Harvard Medical community, prominent research centers worldwide and the private sector.

  • Applying discoveries about one neurodegenerative disease to better understand the others. 

Whereas our ultimate goal is simple — to improve the lives of the millions who face the physical, emotional, and economic burden of neurodegenerative diseases — these diseases represent a far too complex and urgent problem for any one group to tackle. To date, we have engaged over 800 researchers in a growing portfolio of outcome-directed research programs. For visionary philanthropists and scientists, participation in the Harvard NeuroDiscovery Center's work offers the best hope for progress — please join us!

As of December 2010, the Harvard NeuroDiscovery Center has 934 members from various institutions within the Medical area. The chart below lists the primary affiliations of our members: