Healthy Brain Aging

Healthy Brain Aging research is focused on understanding the fundamental causes, and developing new and improved treatments, for neurological and mental health conditions affecting the aging brain.

The life expectancy of Canadians has risen significantly in the past century. The average Canadian now faces an increased risk of experiencing health issues associated with degenerating nervous and vascular systems. In an aging population, dementia has already become the most expensive medical condition in the Canadian health care system. Other brain conditions such as stroke and Parkinson’s disease, to name only two, are also a concern for our communities.

Researchers in the Healthy Brain Aging theme are working to better understand the interplay between aging and the increased risk of dysfunction in the nervous and vascular systems. They aim to identify new ways to detect and prevent diseases and conditions associated with the aging brain, as well as to improve treatments and outcomes for individuals already dealing with age-related brain health challenges.

Apply to join a Brain & Mental Health Team, or to read more about the teams click here.

Healthy Brain Aging Teams

As Canada's population ages, Alzheimer's disease and dementia are growing concerns. By 2031, greater than one in five Albertans will be age 65 or older. Members of the Dementia & Cognitive Disorders Team come from four faculties and span multiple disciplines. Led by Drs. Eric Smith and Roger Thompson, the team has collaborations focused around three areas:

  1. early detection and monitoring,
  2.  treatment and prevention,
  3. improving the lived experience, and
  4. mechanisms of cognitive decline and dementia, including clinical trials.

Nearly 100,000 Canadians have Parkinson's disease, with approximately 5,500 new cases diagnosed each year in Canada. The Movement Disorders team, led by Dr. Davide Martino, is focused on developing the Calgary Parkinson’s Research Initiative (CaPRI), a program that will allow the team to create a centre of excellence for large-scale Parkinson’s disease clinical research studies, thus providing patients with access to the latest treatments and therapies.

One in four Canadians will have a stroke in their lifetime, with the risk increasing with age. The Stroke team’s research focuses on delivering the most recent and cutting-edge innovation in acute stroke diagnosis and treatment to patients with stroke. From innovations in acute stroke imaging including the use of AI to enhance image interpretation to research into optimizing workflow and processes in delivery of acute care to designing and conducting landmark clinical trials that have changed practice worldwide to understanding how best to prevent strokes and cognitive impairment secondary to strokes to developing cutting edge strategies in rehabilitation of stroke patients, the team works on the broad diversity of needs that patients with acute stroke face. Team members include clinician scientists from the internationally renowned Calgary Stroke Program, imaging and computer scientists, basic scientists, engineers, statisticians, epidemiologists, and management experts.