Research Themes

OVERVIEW

Campus Alberta Neuroscience actively works with researchers and stakeholders in five focused research areas: Depression, Healthy Brain Aging and Dementia, Multiple Sclerosis, Nervous System Injury, and Neuroimaging. In each of these areas, CAN facilitates the development of strategic focus and the establishment and work of integrated teams of researchers, clinicians, trainees and stakeholders to advance fundamental understanding and knowledge translation from a framework of productive collaboration.

Depression

The Depression Research and Intervention Team Connects Depression Researchers Across Alberta
The Depression Research and Intervention Team is focused on connecting depression researchers and clinical professionals to improve depression treatment and awareness in Alberta. The Team is working in collaboration with the Canadian Depression Research and Intervention Network (CDRIN) and through active involvement of community groups and people with lived experience of depression.

Purpose

The Depression Research and Intervention Team was formed to connect individuals involved in all areas of depression research and care across Alberta to facilitate innovative research and improve education and knowledge dissemination. Several initiatives that the team is involved in represent a partnership between Campus Alberta Neuroscience and the Canadian Depression Research and Intervention Network (CDRIN).

Goals

The Depression Research and Intervention Team aims to:
  • Increase understanding of the psychosocial and biological causes of depression
  • Facilitate the interaction between the depression research community and people with lived experience of depression
  • Emphasize the effective integration of research, education, translation and collaboration to build a solid foundation beginning with the psychological and biological origins and leading to effective treatments
To achieve these goals the Team will:
  • Ensure connection among collaborative projects across Alberta universities, CDRIN, and organizations representing people with lived experience
  • Work with Alberta depression researchers and stakeholders to identify priority areas and develop research approaches targeting those areas
  • Work to connect research to the mental health care system, mental health care stakeholders and industry

Organization

Established in 2014, the Depression Research and Intervention Team includes mental health researchers from the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary, Campus Alberta Neuroscience, and community partners. Visit our researcher directory for a list of current Depression Research and Intervention members.

Recent Activities

  • 2016 Neuroscience Innovation for Improving Brain Health Symposium: the Depression Research and Intervention team hosted depression focused sessions October 20th 2016 at the Edmonton Coast Plaza hotel. These sessions were held in parallel with other CAN theme sessions and included an interactive panel discussion and a speaker session. The panel discussion included both researchers and people with lived experience to discuss the rewards and challenges associated with lived experience engaged research. The afternoon session focused on innovative research being done by Alberta researchers and collaborators. The day was concluded by the CDRIN Alberta Hub Lived Experience Lead to highlight the importance of research and the voices of those with lived experience in research to ensure better outcomes for depression in Alberta.
  • 2015 Innovation in Depression Research and Intervention Symposium: the Depression Research and Intervention Team hosted a one-day depression-focused Symposium at the University of Calgary in October 2015. Alberta depression researchers came together to share their work and develop connections for increased interaction and development of innovative, collaborative depression focused projects involving individuals working in basic, clinical and applied research. Furthermore, the Symposium included significant involvement of people with lived experience of depression, better connecting researchers with the community.

Upcoming Events

Coming soon

Contact the Depression Research and Intervention Team

For more information on the Depression Research and Intervention Team, please contact Campus Alberta Neuroscience at (403) 220-2422 or [email protected].

For more information on CDRIN, please visit their website.

Healthy Brain Aging and Dementia

The Healthy Brain Aging and Dementia (HBAD) Team works toward preventing dementia and promoting healthy brain aging
The HBAD Team brings together Alberta researchers along the entire spectrum of both healthy brain aging and dementia research – from basic to translational sciences. The goal of HBAD is to accelerate diagnostic advancements, improve cognitive health and reduce the overall burden of dementia on Albertans.

Purpose

The HBAD Team brings together Alberta researchers along the entire spectrum of both healthy brain aging and dementia research – from basic to translational sciences. The overarching goal of HBAD is to accelerate diagnostic advancements, improve cognitive health and reduce the overall burden of dementia on Albertans.

Goals

HBAD aims to:
  • Strengthen collaborations across Alberta and develop a common vision for healthy brain aging and dementia work in Alberta;
  • Implement a collaborative, pan-Alberta healthy brain aging and dementia research, education and translation approach that will create significant positive impacts;
  • Increase the integration of research, education, translation and population health to build a pipeline from biology to cure.
To achieve these goals HBAD:
  • Connects researchers with complementary interests to advance discovery spanning the spectrum of dementia research;
  • Support the development of new tools and technologies related to the understanding, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care of dementia;
  • Engages stakeholders and partners to increase translation and impact of research outcomes and to inform and support development of HBAD projects.

Tools and Technology

  • Research into the understanding and prevention of dementia requires the integration of numerous methodologies, including functional neuroimaging, genetic polymorphism analysis, brain and behaviour research, and animal models
  • Examination of degeneration in various forms, as well as studying cerebral blood flow and regional brain damage, provides critical insight into processes that underlie cognitive decline and dementia
  • Investigating the role of factors such as exercise and physical activity, cognitive activities, sleep and nutrition helps us understand how healthy lifestyle can help prevent dementia and enhance cognitive performance.
  • Implementation research aimed at optimizing brain health and improving the outcomes for persons with dementia through the translation of research into practice.

Organization

Established in 2012, the HBAD team aims to integrate complementary research and health delivery approaches to increase the impact of dementia research in Alberta and beyond. The HBAD Team is led by a committee of experts in dementia from the University of Alberta, University of Calgary, University of Lethbridge and Alberta Health Services. Visit the CANdex for a list of current HBAD members.

Partnerships

The HBAD Team has formed collaborative partnerships with Alberta Innovates-Health Solutions, the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories, the Seniors Health Strategic Clinical Network, Alzheimer Society of Calgary, Alberta Prion Research Institute as well as a wide variety of Alberta-based researchers. HBAD members are also involved in the development of the Alberta Dementia Strategy. Outside of Alberta, the HBAD Team is connected with the Victoria Longitudinal Study, the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging and other national initiatives.

Recent Activities

  • CAN’s inaugural annual symposium in 2012 brought Alberta researchers and top national and international scientists together to discuss the latest discoveries and innovations related to healthy brain aging;
  • HBAD members are currently developing the Dementia Care Research Initiative, a suite of translation-focused projects that examine the resources available in primary, acute and long-term care facilitates and how to provide better and more efficient care for dementia patients and caregivers at all levels of healthcare delivery;
  • HBAD members received $1.2M in funding (CIHR Operating grant, matching funds from the Brenda Strafford Foundation Chair in Alzheimer Research) for a project examining the effects of aerobic exercise on cognition and brain health in older adults at increased risk of Alzheimer disease and dementia. The study will probe the biological mechanisms using translational physiology.
  • HBAD members received $144,000 in funding (Alzheimer Society of Calgary and Alberta Prion Research Institute) to study how the spread of abnormal amyloid plaques leads to decline in memory and brain activity. Using an animal model, the researchers hope to establish a new, rapid system for evaluating new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
  • In May 2016, the HBAD group hosted their first ever international conference, “Promoting Healthy Brain Aging and Preventing Dementia: Research and Translation” in Banff, Alberta. The primary objective of this conference was to bring the world’s experts in dementia together to advance the understanding, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care of dementia. Visit the conference website for more information.

Upcoming Events

  • Check this page regularly for updates.

Contact the HBAD Team

For more information on the HBAD Team, please contact Campus Alberta Neuroscience at (403) 220-2422 or [email protected].

Multiple Sclerosis

The Alberta Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Collaboration: Supporting Multiple Sclerosis research and translation
Campus Alberta Neuroscience (CAN) and the Alberta MS Network have partnered to establish The Alberta MS Collaboration to boost the province’s capacity for MS research and translation through industry, government, community and academic partnerships. 

Purpose

Campus Alberta Neuroscience (CAN) and the Alberta MS Network have partnered to establish The Alberta MS Collaboration to boost the province’s capacity for MS research and translation through industry, government, community and academic partnerships.

The Alberta MS Network (formerly known as the Alberta endMS Regional Research and Training Centre) was created in 2009 and serves as an interdisciplinary hub connecting scientists and trainees across the province.

Organization

Established in 2014, the Alberta MS Collaboration is a multi-stakeholder initiative co-led by CAN and the Alberta MS Network. Other partners include Alberta Economic Development and Trade, Alberta Health and the MS Society of Canada. Visit the CANdex for a list of current Alberta MS Collaboration members.

Goals

The Alberta MS Collaboration aims to:
  • Support innovation through industry- and academia-partnered MS research and translation
  • Build capacity, collaboration and alignment in the Alberta MS research community
  • Strengthen the capacity for rapid translation of research into practice
To achieve these goals, the Collaboration:
  • Promotes and facilitates province-wide collaboration to build capacity and impact
  • Works through attraction and investment of research/translation dollars from industry, government and non-profit stakeholders to improve outcomes for people with MS

Focus Areas

  • Neuro-protection and repair
  • Progressive MS
  • Life-modifying therapies
  • Models of care to support early diagnosis, self-management and improved quality of life

Recent Activities

  • 2015 Alberta MS Network Retreat: The 2015 Alberta MS Network Retreat was held in Banff, Alberta in December 2015. This annual event featured internationally renowned speakers, trainee presentations and strategic discussions of the Alberta MS Collaboration.
  • 2016 Collaborative Team Grant Competition: The Alberta MS Collaboration held a team grant competition in the area of neuroprotection and repair. With funding from Alberta Economic Development and Trade and Sanofi Genzyme Canada, the competition awarded two projects led by Bradley Kerr (University of Alberta; with co-PI Gerlinde Metz, University of Lethbridge) and V. Wee Yong (University of Calgary; with co-PI Olga Kovalchuk, University of Lethbridge), $200,000 each over a two year period.

Upcoming Events

  • 2016 Seed Grant Competition: On November 30, 2016, the Alberta MS Collaboration will launch a seed grant competition for new Alberta-based investigators (with a faculty appointment less than 5 years) or experienced Alberta-based investigators new to MS research for seed MS research projects in the area of neuroprotection and repair. With funding from Alberta Economic Development and Trade, Sanofi Genzyme Canada, and Branch Out Foundation. Please see the Partnered Opportunities page for more detail.

Contact the Alberta MS Collaboration

For more information on the Alberta MS Collaboration, please contact Campus Alberta Neuroscience at (403) 220-2422 or [email protected].

Nervous System Injury

Changing the landscape of nervous system injury treatment and recovery
The NSI Team works to increase the creation and application of knowledge that promotes positive recovery and outcomes for individuals following spinal cord, traumatic brain and nerve injury. This will be accomplished by establishing and maintaining nervous system injury research and translation partnerships and collaborations with Alberta researchers, clinicians, community partners and trainees. 

Purpose

The NSI Team works to increase the creation and application of knowledge that promotes positive recovery and outcomes for individuals following spinal cord, traumatic brain and nerve injury. This will be accomplished by establishing and maintaining nervous system injury research and translation partnerships and collaborations with Alberta researchers, clinicians, community partners and trainees.

Goals

NSI aims to:
  • Improve understanding of the mechanisms underlying nerve injury
  • Advance innovations in rehabilitation and repair
  • Promote translation of new discoveries to the clinic and community
To achieve these goals NSI:
  • Increases the knowledge generation and impact of NSI research across the province
  • Supports and facilitates the development of new models and assistive devices
  • Engages stakeholders, such as Spinal Cord Injury Alberta and the Rick Hansen Institute, in the development and discussion of research priorities, targets and projects.

Tools and Technology

NSI members’ work spans preclinical and translational research. This involves the increased understanding of basic mechanisms underlying repair and recovery using cutting-edge tools, including optogenetic, neuropharmacological and behavioural analyses. Applications in these areas range from animal models, to mental health, to combinations of rehabilitation strategies with other therapies. The pursuit of therapeutic and translational avenues is also driven by engineering and technology solutions including neural implants, robotic assistive exoskeleton devices and nerve stimulation.

Organization

Established in 2014, NSI is an open organization that includes members from the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary and the University of Lethbridge. Visit the CANdex for a list of current NSI members.

The NSI Research Team connects across repair, recovery, and different injury state research. Our members work together within directed research priority areas, using collaborative approaches to examine the role of these neural systems on recovery. Recent activities supported by the NSI are listed below:

Recent Activities

  • Nervous System injury Symposium 2014: The Road to Rehab and Beyond: At Campus Alberta Neuroscience’s 3rd Annual Symposium, nearly 250 attendees from the NSI and across Alberta took part in the opportunity to discuss new and innovative approaches to nervous system injury rehabilitation and recovery. Presentations included keynote address by Grégoire Courtine, a Richard B. Stein annual lecturer, on the restoration of sensorimotor function.
  • Spinal Cord/Nerve Injury & Pain NeuroTeam Community Research Day: A unique and exciting event was held at the Cochrane RancheHouse on November 4th, 2015. Sponsored by CAN and AIHS, this event included clinicians, researchers, trainees and community members brought together to present ongoing projects, and discuss relevant research priorities that will benefit the lives of Albertans living with nerve injury both now and in the future.

Upcoming Events

  • Spinal Cord Injury Community-Research Engagement Symposium: Hosted by the Hotchkiss Brain Institute’s Spinal Cord/Nerve Injury & Pain NeuroTeam, this event will showcase current spinal cord injury research and provide a platform for those with lived-experience to share their priorities for research. The Symposium is supported by Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Campus Alberta Neuroscience, University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Spinal Cord Injury Alberta and Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Centre Society (Northern Alberta). The Symposium will take place at the Hyatt Regency Calgary on December 19, 2016. More information and registration details are available here.

Contact the NSI Team

For more information on the NSI Team, please contact Campus Alberta Neuroscience at (403) 220-2422 or [email protected].

Neuroimaging

Campus Alberta Neuroscience Imaging Consortium (CANIC): bringing together Alberta’s bioimaging scientists
CANIC connects structural and functional nervous system imaging researchers, clinical practitioners and trainees from across the province to accelerate discoveries that support health, social, and economic benefits to Albertans.

Purpose

CANIC connects structural and functional nervous system imaging researchers, clinical practitioners and trainees from across the province to accelerate discoveries that support health, social, and economic benefits to Albertans.

Goals

CANIC aims to:
  • Improve clinical diagnosis and predictions
  • Inform novel treatment and interventions
  • Provide understanding on and increase prevention of neural disorders
To achieve these goals CANIC:
  • Promotes and facilitates province-wide collaboration
  • Facilitates the development and implementation of new technologies
  • Designs and implements collaborative initiatives that reduce redundancies and expedite discoveries

Tools and Technology

CANIC members share a common interest in neuroimaging and employ a wide variety of technologies to develop solutions to the biggest questions in brain science. Projects into cognitive, behavioural, and social conditions are explored through the examination of the nervous system using imaging tools such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), electroencephalography (EEG), and positron emission tomography (PET).

Organization

Established in 2013, CANIC is an open organization that includes members from the Universities of Alberta, Calgary, and Lethbridge. Visit the CANdex for a list of current CANIC members.

CANIC supports developments of collaborative teams and ideas, data sharing, and educational opportunities. See below for recent province-wide events and activities supported by CANIC.

Recent Activities

  • Introductory Workshop on Neuroimaging Techniques for the Study of Brain Activation and Brain Networks (May 2015): Hosted in partnership with the NSERC CREATE I3T Program at the University of Calgary, this workshop provided introductory instruction on multiple neuroimaging techniques (e.g. fMRI, DTI, EEG) and the integration of these techniques for studying brain anatomy and function development.
  • Advanced Workshop on Emerging Technologies and Concepts in Medical Imaging (June 2016): Hosted in partnership with the NSERC I3T Program at the University of Calgary, this workshop provided advanced instruction on emerging imaging technologies, including an overview of theory and concepts, clinical applications as well as hands-on data analysis/visualization and problem-solving exercises. The workshop also included guest lectures by medical imaging experts from across Canada.

Upcoming Events

  • Planning is underway for the 2017 neuroimaging workshop. Check this page regularly for updates.

Contact CANIC

For more information on CANIC, please contact Campus Alberta Neuroscience at (403) 220-2422 or [email protected].