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Category: Research

Research Video Series: Introducing Dr. Lisa M. Munter

Research Video Series: Introducing Dr. Lisa M. Munter

Dr. Lisa M. Munter will be investigating a novel aspect of the cholesterol metabolism with respect to Alzheimer’s disease. Her goal is to understand how dietary cholesterol affects generation of harmful amyloid peptides. She hopes to reveal whether certain lipoprotein particles of the blood may trigger amyloid generation in the brain. Dr. Munter is a researcher and professor at McGill University and the recipient of an ASRP biomedical grant.

A long and prosperous life should end with human dignity.
-Dr. Lisa M. Munter

Dr. Lisa M. Munter

Biomedical Grant Recipient in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia – $150, 000
Project: Peripheral and central pathways of cholesterol-induced Alzheimer’s disease pathology

Read about more of our grant and award recipients here.

Dementia and air pollution: should we flee to the country?

Dementia and air pollution: should we flee to the country?

Could living in a major city increase your risk of dementia? A new study suggests that may be the case.

After studying over two million Ontarians over an 11-year period, researchers found that the closer they lived to a major roadway, the more likely they were to develop dementia. Those who had lived in urban areas for a long time were even more likely to develop the condition than those who had moved more recently.

These findings suggest one culprit in particular: air pollution. Of course, the study didn’t prove that air pollution causes dementia – only that there is some sort of relationship. But this isn’t the first major study to find an association between air pollution and a decline in brain function in middle-aged and older adults.

So does this mean that we should all flock to the country? Not so fast.

The increased risk shown in the study is only slightly higher, and while these results might help us understand a bit more about what causes dementia in certain circumstances, more research needs to be done.

The “brew” of different toxins that make up air pollution make it difficult to attribute the effect to one specific factor, and there are other factors besides air pollution that may come into play.

Yet, air pollution is an area worthy of more study because it has other indirect but very important effects on the brain. Air pollution may contribute to conditions like pulmonary disease, heart disease and stroke, which we know can increase a person’s chances of developing dementia. Cardiovascular disease, in particular, can lead to vascular dementia.

While the findings of this new study are preliminary, they do have important implications for public health. We need to do more to control and reduce air pollution and protect our most vulnerable citizens.

And while we still don’t fully understand the causes of dementia, there are things we can do right now to reduce our risk. More physical activity, eating a heart-healthy diet, quitting smoking, challenging our brains and staying socially connected are all essential for brain health.

Research Video Series: Introducing Marco Prado

Research Video Series: Introducing Marco Prado

Dr. Marco Prado’s research aims to address the mechanisms by which deficient cholinergic circuits contribute to dementia. He is an Alzheimer Society Research Program Biomedical Research Grant recipient and a professor at the University of Western Ontario.

Let’s make sure that aging does not mean losing one’s identity.
-Dr. Marco Prado

Dr. Marco Prado

Biomedical Grant Recipient in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia – $149,128
Project: Mechanisms of anti-cholinergic activity mediated dementia and Alzheimer’s pathology

Read about more of our grants and awards recipients here.

Research Video Series: Introducing Laura Hamilton

Research Video Series: Introducing Laura Hamilton

Dr. Laura Hamilton is testing the efficacy of a new therapeutic target (stearoyl CoA desaturase (SCD)-1) to improve learning and memory deficits in Alzheimer’s disease using a mouse model. Laura is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Montréal and is this year’s Alzheimer Society Research Program Spark Award Recipient.

The potential to contribute to a better quality of life for millions of people motivates me every day.
-Dr. Laura Hamilton

Dr. Laura Hamilton

Spark Postdoctoral Fellowship in Alzheimer’s Disease (Biomedical) – $100,000
Project: Triggers and behavioural consequences of elevated oleic acid in the Alzheimer’s disease brain

Read about more of our grants and awards recipients here.

Research Video Series: Introducing Stephanie Chamberlain

Research Video Series: Introducing Stephanie Chamberlain

Trained as a personal support worker in long-term care, Stephanie Chamberlain is currently pursuing her PhD at the University of Alberta. There, she is assessing the impact of court-appointed public guardianship on the health and care needs of long-term care residents. Stephanie is the Alzheimer Society Research Program’s first Revera Scholar.

It is essential that we improve quality of life and quality of care to those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia because how we treat a life that has been lived is reflective of our essential humanity.
-Stephanie Chamberlain

Stephanie Chamberlain

Revera Scholar Doctoral Award in Alzheimer’s disease (Quality of Life) – $66,000
Project: Unrepresented older adults: The impact of public guardianship on resident health and care needs in long-term care

Read about more of our grants and awards recipients here.

Research Video Series: Introducing Dr. Rahel Rabi

Research Video Series: Introducing Dr. Rahel Rabi

At the University of Toronto, Rahel Rabi’s research focuses on diagnosis and detection, where she is working hard to identify the cognitive biomarkers of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). In this video, Rahel describes her research funded by the Alzheimer Society Research Program in her own words.

Scientists have made remarkable strides in understanding Alzheimer’s disease, and with recent advances in research involving novel techniques, we can work towards finding a cure.
-Rahel Rabi

Rahel Rabi

Rawlinson Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Alzheimer’s Disease (Quality of Life) – $100,000
Project: Stroop event-related potentials as neurocognitive markers for amnestic mild cognitive impairment
This project is funded by the Rawlinson Family.

Read about more of our grants and awards recipients here.

We are Thankful for You!

We are Thankful for You!

Thanksgiving Fall Couple

Fall is a spectacular time of year in Ontario! The leaves begin to change and despite the air getting a bit cooler, time spent with family and friends makes it clear that this time of year is full of warmth.

Thank you!

This season of Thanksgiving we are reminded of how grateful we are for our family of supporters at Alzheimer Society of Ontario. Whether you have supported us through an event, are a monthly donor, subscribe to our blog, volunteer, have remembered us in your Will or have #RaisedAMug for Alzheimer’s – WE THANK YOU!

Your generosity helps to change the lives of 564,000 people across Ontario affected by dementia. Our province is home to world-leading researchers working to halt or treat this disease. Others are finding ways, both practical and inventive, to improve quality of life for caregivers.

Here are some of the ways you have impacted Alzheimer’s research.

Unlocking the mysteries of the brain

Since 1989, we’ve awarded more than $50 million in grants to researchers across Canada through the Alzheimer Society Research Program.

Over the duration of the program, these researchers have helped to:

  • Identify potential new drugs to slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Develop techniques to distinguish different forms of dementia using neuroimaging, enabling more targeted treatments for people with dementia
  • Show how diet and other lifestyle choices may delay the disease
  • Develop technologies to enhance the quality of life, care and safety for people affected by the disease
  • Improve care delivery in the community and in long-term care settings


Meet a Researcher

Thanks to support from our donors and the Alzheimer Society Research Program, Dr. Frank Rudzicz, is currently developing artificial intelligence software to help people with dementia that experience difficulty communicating with others.

Frank Rudzicz
Pictured above: Dr. Frank Rudzicz

Dr. Rudzicz has designed voice-based software to “converse” with a person and assess their speech for this language disability and for language problems associated with memory loss. Pilot tests show it gives accurate and early diagnoses.

Changes in the brain resulting in dementia begin up to 25 years before most symptoms appear. Rudzicz thinks his software could help catch those changes early so people can get treatment at this stage.

You can learn more about his project by visiting his researcher profile or by watching his research video.

This incredible research and others like that being done by Dr. Rudzicz would not be possible without you. Thank you again for your wonderful support!


What this week’s Nobel Prize in Medicine announcement means for dementia research

What this week’s Nobel Prize in Medicine announcement means for dementia research

Brain cells

This year’s Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to Japanese biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi for his discoveries on how cells eat themselves.

That’s right – Ohsumi conducted experiments in the 1990s on how cells break down and recycle their components, literally eating themselves to remove damaged content and provide building blocks for cell regeneration.

This process is called “autophagy”, a term that was actually coined in 1963 by Belgian scientist Christian de Duve, who also received a Nobel Prize for his work in this area.

So what’s so noteworthy about Ohsumi’s research? His discoveries are significant because he was able to show why this process exists, where it happens, and its different uses in the human body.

For example, we now know that autophagy removes proteins that clump together abnormally in brain cells, like in some forms of dementia. The process also plays a key role in the immune system, where defects can be a common thread across many diseases of aging, from neurodegeneration to cancer. In fact, autophagy defects have been linked to many health conditions, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Type 2 diabetes and cancer.

Researchers are now trying to figure out whether these diseases can be treated with new drugs that boost or suppress the autophagy process. As research in this area progresses, it could completely change the way we treat conditions like dementia, whose cause is still unclear and for which there is currently no cure.

Did you know? The Alzheimer Society supports biomedical and quality of life research through the Alzheimer Society Research Program (ASRP). Since its inception in 1989, the ASRP has funded over $50 million in grants and awards. Discover the exciting new avenues in dementia research being explored by Alzheimer Society Research Program (ASRP) recipients >

Let’s make a difference on World Alzheimer’s Day

Let’s make a difference on World Alzheimer’s Day

Alzheimer's research

Today we celebrate World Alzheimer’s Day, a perfect time to focus on the amazing work being done worldwide to conquer dementia. It is also a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness and show our support for those affected by the disease.

Dementia affects everyone, whether we know someone living with the disease, volunteer, provide care or conduct research to uncover the cure – in one way or another, we are in this together.

Ekaterina Rogaeva
Pictured above: Alzheimer’s researcher Ekaterina Rogaeva

When the Alzheimer Society of Ontario was first formed in 1983, our mission was to help people affected by dementia through expert care and support, funding research, education and increasing awareness of dementia. And we continue to do so today.

It’s pretty remarkable to think 110 years ago was when the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease were discovered. Flash forward to today – our technology and research methods are so advanced that we can use techniques such as brain imaging and biomarkers to investigate the potential causes and cures for the disease. But there is still so much more to be discovered.


I hope you will join us in recognizing World Alzheimer’s Day. A small act can help make a remarkable difference. Share this blog with a friend, sign up for our e-newsletter, or even make a donation today.

Thanks to a special match offer from the Decker Family, your donation in support of research will be doubled! For every dollar you donate, it will be matched to make twice the impact and help bring our researchers one step closer to conquering dementia.

Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. A world where our family and friends are never affected by Alzheimer’s. A world where dementia is the distant memory we cannot recall.

Thank you for your generous support!

“Back up” leading research and make double the impact

“Back up” leading research and make double the impact


Our minds are like our body’s computer – storing precious memories we’ve collected throughout our lifetime. Sadly, when you have Alzheimer’s disease, every memory, thought and feeling you’ve ever experienced is at risk of being lost.

Your support of research will help “back up” these memories at risk.

Currently, Alzheimer’s disease has no known cure, but great strides are being made into discovering what causes this disease, what types of medication or actions we can take to reduce our risk and how best to approach finding a cure.

Make a donation in support of research today and your gift will be matched 2X its value, thanks to a special match offer from the Decker family. For every dollar you donate, the Decker family will match your gift – up to $25,000.

Alzheimer Society of Ontario has led the way to some fascinating research projects across the province. Research like that being done by Eva Vico Varela.

Eva Vico Varela (pictured above), neuroscience research student at McGill University

Eva, a neuroscience doctoral student at McGill University, is investigating deep brain stimulation in mice models. She aims to understand how electrical pulses could be applied to help people with Alzheimer’s disease in clinical trials.

If successful, this new treatment could help slow the decline of Alzheimer’s disease and improve the quality of life for people living with dementia. And this is just one of many promising research projects underway right now!

Don’t let dementia erase memories of those you love. Donate now to “back up” leading researchers, caregivers, and people living with dementia.