One of the most devastating forms of memory loss is Alzheimer's disease, an irreversible and progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. Today, Alzheimer's is the second most-feared illness in America, following cancer, and may affect as many as five million Americans. As the baby-boom generation moves through retirement, that number could soar to more than 11 million by 2040, and have a huge economic impact on America's already fragile healthcare system.

While there is no cure for the disease, THE ALZHEIMER'S PROJECT shows there is now genuine reason to be optimistic about the future. Created by the award-winning team behind HBO's acclaimed "Addiction" project, this multi-platform series takes a close look at groundbreaking discoveries made by the country's leading scientists, as well as the effects of this debilitating and fatal disease both on those with Alzheimer's and on their families.

Scientific research is gaining momentum in discovering ways to treat and possibly prevent Alzheimer's. Aiming to bring a new understanding, THE ALZHEIMER'S PROJECT features a four-part documentary series, 15 short supplemental films, a robust website, and a nationwide community-based information and outreach campaign. A book published by Public Affairs Books was developed by the producers as a companion to the project. HBO will use all of its platforms, including the HBO main service, multiplex channels, HBO On Demand, HBO Podcasts, hbo.com, HBO Channel on YouTube, and DVD sales to support the project. In addition, all films will stream free of charge on hbo.com and will be offered for free on multiple platforms by participating television service providers.

"The Alzheimer's research community welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with HBO, seeking to raise new awareness and understanding of this devastating disease," says Richard J. Hodes, M.D., director of the National Institute on Aging, the component of the National Institutes of Health leading the federal Alzheimer's disease research program. "There is a compelling story to tell of scientific discovery, of research advances and challenges, and of the human faces behind the disease."

The first of the four documentaries in THE ALZHEIMER'S PROJECT is "The Memory Loss Tapes", which provides an up-close and personal look at seven individuals living with Alzheimer's, across the full spectrum of the progression of the disease. "Momentum In Science" is a two-part state-of-the-science film that takes viewers inside the laboratories and clinics of 25 leading scientists and physicians, revealing some of the most cutting-edge research advances. "'Grandpa, Do You Know Who I Am?' with Maria Shriver" captures what it means to be a child or grandchild of one with Alzheimer's, while "Caregivers" highlights the sacrifices and successes of people who experience their loved one's descent into dementia.

THE ALZHEIMER'S PROJECT is a presentation of HBO Documentary Films and the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health in association with the Alzheimer's Association®, Fidelity® Charitable Gift Fund, and Geoffrey Beene Gives Back® Alzheimer's Initiative. The series' producer is John Hoffman; the executive producers are Sheila Nevins and Maria Shriver.

Alzheimer's Disease (AD)

A progressive degenerative disease of the brain that causes impairment of memory and other cognitive abilities.

Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP)

The larger protein from which beta-amyloid is formed.

ApoE Gene

A gene that codes for a protein that carries cholesterol to and within cells; different forms of the ApoE gene are associated with differing risks for late-onset Alzheimer's disease. This gene may be referred to as a risk factor gene or a "susceptibility gene" because one form of the gene, called APOE4, is associated with the risk of developing late onset AD.

Beta-Amyloid

Derived from the amyloid precursor protein and found in plaques, the insoluble deposits outside neurons. May also be called A-beta.

Beta-Amyloid Plaque

A largely insoluble deposit found in the space between nerve cells in the brain. The plaques in Alzheimer's disease are made of beta-amyloid and other molecules, surrounded by non-nerve cells (glia) and damaged axons and dendrites from nearby neurons.

Cognitive Reserve

The brain's ability to operate effectively even when some damage to cells or brain cell communications has occurred.

Dementia

A broad term referring to a decline in cognitive function that interferes with daily life and activities. Alzheimer's disease is one form of dementia.

Functional MRI (fMRI)

An adaptation of an MRI (see magnetic resonance imaging) technique that measures brain activity during a mental task, such as one involving memory, language, or attention.

Hippocampal Formation

A structure in the brain that plays a major role in learning and memory and is involved in converting short-term to long-term memory. Also called the hippocampus.

Inflammation

The process by which the body responds to cellular injury by attempting to eliminate foreign matter and damaged tissue.

Insulin Resistance

A condition in which the pancreas makes enough insulin, but the cells do not respond properly to it; characterizes and precedes type 2 diabetes.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

A diagnostic and research technique that uses magnetic fields to generate a computer image of internal structures in the body.

Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

A condition in which a person has cognitive problems greater than those expected for his or her age. Amnestic MCI includes memory problems, but not the personality or other cognitive problems that characterize AD.

Neurodegenerative Disease

A disease characterized by a progressive decline in the structure and function of brain tissue. These diseases include AD, Parkinson's disease, frontotemporal lobar degeneration, and dementia with Lewy bodies. They are usually more common in older people.

Oligomers

Clusters of a small number of beta-amyloid peptides.

Oxidative Damage

Damage that can occur to cells when they are exposed to too many free radicals.

Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB)

The radioactive tracer compound used during a PET (see Positron Emission Tomography) scan of the brain to show beta-amyloid deposits.

Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB)

The radioactive tracer compound used during a PET (see Positron Emission Tomography) scan of the brain to show beta-amyloid deposits.

Synapse

The tiny gap between nerve cells across which neurotransmitters and nerve signals pass.

Tau

A protein that helps to maintain the structure of microtubules in normal nerve cells. Abnormal tau is a principal component of the paired helical filaments in neurofibrillary tangles.

Tangles

A protein that helps to maintain the structure of microtubules in normal nerve cells. Abnormal tau is a principal component of the paired helical filaments in neurofibrillary tangles.

Memory

Normal Aging

Genetic Risk Factor

Dominant and Recessive Genes

Genes and Proteins

Protein-Misfolding Disease

Cholesterol

Biomarkers

Disease-Modifying Drug

Transgenic Mice

An animal that has had a gene (such as the human APP gene) inserted into its chromosomes for the purpose of research. Mice carrying a mutated human APP gene often develop plaques in their brains as they age.

Pathology

Microglia

Insulin & Insulin Resistance

Susceptibility Gene

A variant in a cell's DNA that does not cause a disease by itself but may increase the chance that a person will develop a disease.

Susceptibility Genes

A variant in a cell's DNA that does not cause a disease by itself but may increase the chance that a person will develop a disease.

Genome-Wide Association Study

Vascular Disease

Genetics

Genetics

Normal Aging