Here, you can find the most recent news stories from CAN
Developing a New Model of Care for Spinal Cord Injury
This article was written by the Rick Hansen Institute and the original post can be found here
Rick Hansen SCI Registry provides a baseline for the collection of critical data in Alberta
When you hear about spinal cord injury (SCI), you often hear about the traumatic causes – for example, those sustained from serious falls or car crashes. However, of the 86,000 Canadians living with a spinal cord injury, about half of those individuals sustain their injury from “non-traumatic” causes, such as infections, tumours, neurodegenerative or congenital diseases. “Non-traumatic spinal cord injury (NTSCI) is hard to define because there can be so many different etiologies or causes,” explains Nicole McKenzie, a Project Manager and Spinal Cord Injury Research Facilitator at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, Alberta. “Classifying these individuals can be difficult because they may not be seen by a specialist or if they do, be seen by multiple specialists (which makes it difficult to gather information systematically), may have a mild case that only becomes severe enough to require surgery or be identified years after they begin to experience symptoms.” Because of this, the NTSCI population has not been historically studied as often as the traumatic population. The result? “There is a huge sub-set of the SCI population that we don’t yet understand well.”
The Rick Hansen SCI Registry connection
In 2014, a diverse group of stakeholders in Alberta took the lead in addressing this gap through the Rick Hansen SCI Registry (RHSCIR). Located in acute hospital and rehabilitation facilities specializing in SCI care across the country, RHSCIR tracks the experiences and outcomes of people with traumatic SCI during their journey from acute care to rehabilitation and into the community in order to improve research and clinical practice. Participants are enrolled during their initial hospital stay and are then followed after one, two, and then every five years, with the goal of collecting information about their post-injury experiences. With over 6,700 participants enrolled in RHSCIR, it is one of the most comprehensive databases on traumatic SCI in the world. Expanding the dataset to include NTSCI would not only make the data more robust, but it would enable researchers and clinicians to better understand NTSCI and how to develop more effective treatments.
With financial support from numerous organizations including the Rick Hansen Institute, Brain Canada, Alberta Paraplegic Foundation, University of Calgary Hotchkiss Brain Institute and the University of Alberta Neuroscience & Mental Health Institute, RHSCIR-Alberta embarked on an ambitious initiative to collect data on NTSCI and re-envision a method of community follow-up that could improve upon the current model of capturing individuals’ experiences after sustaining their injuries. “This is an extremely exciting project as we are working with provincial, multidisciplinary stakeholders in spinal cord injury to establish and implement a new model of care [in Alberta] that aims to provide equitable and standardized care, regardless of geographical location,” says Dr. Chester Ho, Professor at the University of Alberta and Principal Investigator of the RHSCIR-Alberta initiative. “For the model of care work, we need to have a robust, data platform for longitudinal outcomes evaluation,” and RHSCIR-Alberta in turn, would provide an important platform in this new model of care.
In Alberta, RHSCIR has sites in Calgary (Foothills Medical Center) and Edmonton (Royal Alexandra Hospital, University of Alberta Hospital and Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital) and the data collection, protocols and linkages to a national network of SCI experts are well-established. By building off of the national registry, RHSCIR-Alberta collects data that contributes towards national SCI research, while promoting collaboration among Alberta SCI researchers, health care administrators, clinicians and community groups. The work in Alberta will also inform the collection of longitudinal, community data and NTSCI data for the rest of Canada.
It is this spirit of collaboration that has garnered support from organizations such as Campus Alberta Neuroscience (CAN). With an aim to elevate the impact of neuroscience and mental health research, education and translation, CAN promotes and propels strategic collaborations with diverse stakeholders across Alberta. It is these collaborations that resulted in the creation of the Alberta Spinal Cord Injury Partner Committee; a research and translation team with a vested interest in supporting a new model of care that will provide better outcomes for Albertans with spinal cord injuries. RHSCIR-Alberta relies on the expertise of these important partnerships. “We’re working to advance and connect spinal cord injury research, translation, community services and clinical care to improve the lifelong experience of people with SCI,” says Dr. Grant McIntyre, Executive Director of Campus Alberta Neuroscience. “The Rick Hansen Spinal Cord Injury Registry is a key element in our goal of turning research evidence into health care solutions for Canadians with SCI.”
Identifying non-traumatic spinal cord injuries
In order to learn more about individuals with NTSCI, the RHSCIR-Alberta team began to examine existing health information. They looked at the past 10 years of health records through the Alberta Health Services data repositories. An algorithm to utilize administrative data to identify cases of NTSCI was developed in conjunction with the University of Toronto, Rick Hansen Institute and Alberta Health Services Data Analytics teams. This algorithm then generated a list of patients. Charts were reviewed by the team to confirm (or deny) whether the patients had, in fact, sustained a NTSCI. This process validated the algorithm and also refined it (you can read about the research here).
The team also looked at health records of individuals with NTSCI who went through rehabilitation in Calgary or Edmonton in the last three years. These retrospective projects do not capture everyone who has a NTSCI in Alberta, however, notes Nicole who is also RHSCIR-Alberta’s Project Manager, it is the “first large-scale project of its kind, internationally, to try to develop an algorithm to identify this population using administrative health data.”
A new approach to community follow-up
The RHSCIR-Alberta team was also interested in developing and implementing a new model for the long-term follow-up of individuals in RHSCIR by creating a “person-centred approach.”
Prior to RHSCIR-Alberta, a member of the research team would conduct follow-up interviews with participants after enrollment in RHSCIR. However, the attrition rate was high as it was often challenging to maintain contact with participants as they settled back into their lives post-injury and it was difficult for individuals to see how their data was being used. Researchers were also realizing individuals’ needs were changing over time with respect to work, family and aging, but they were not in a position to provide support if individuals identified concerns during follow-up interviews. These issues were also identified among other RHSCIR sites across the country.
The RHSCIR-Alberta team, includes members from Spinal Cord Injury Alberta (SCI Alberta), a peer-support and advocacy organization, and they quickly realized that many of the questions being asked in the community follow-up interviews were also being asked by the SCI Alberta team to the clients they support. So, the team modified the questionnaire as well as the data collection process for the follow-up interviews and as a result, are better able to address individuals’ concerns in real time, incorporate specific research interests and improve participant retention. Today, a staff member from SCI Alberta (usually a social worker) conducts interviews with participants. If any concerns are raised during the interviews, SCI Alberta staff team are able to directly handle the concerns or connect patients with the appropriate clinical supports.
Partnering with SCI Alberta was a natural fit as it enabled participants to talk to an organization that they had already developed a relationship with in the community and that was familiar with the challenges they face. It also allowed the SCI Alberta staff to develop assessment skills and create stronger relationships between researchers, clinicians and community advocates. SCI-Alberta staff underwent training in good clinical practices, privacy, data platform usage and processes for following up on identified concerns. Ultimately, according to Teren Clarke, SCI Alberta’s Executive Director, “it would also enhance the number of unique individuals that data is gathered from so that research and services can be strengthened and policies can be better informed.”
Participating in these interviews was especially enlightening, said Teren. “We were inspired by the depth of the stories people tell about life with SCI, particularly their openness when speaking about the challenges related to aging.”
“The SCI Alberta team is an essential part of our data collection that is used for research and clinical purposes,” added Dr. Ho. “This partnership is groundbreaking and is establishing a very new collaborative model with mutual respect and trust for our healthcare system.”
These RHSCIR-Alberta initiatives have provided invaluable insights at a national level that will have far-reaching impact on the type of services and access to care available for individuals with SCI. As part of RHI’s national strategy to optimize care for Canadians with SCI, going forward, RHSCIR sites across Canada will soon begin to collect data on the NTSCI population and are being encouraged to engage with local community organizations to develop partnerships for community follow-up.
Postdoctoral Fellowship on Multiple Sclerosis
The Alberta Multiple Sclerosis Collaboration (Alberta MS Collaboration) is accepting clinical and research postdoctoral fellowship proposals from Alberta-based trainees focused on multiple sclerosis in the area of neuro-protection and repair.
The Alberta MS Collaboration is a multi-stakeholder initiative supporting innovation in MS research and translation in Alberta. Current partners include the Alberta MS Network, Alberta Economic Development and Trade, Alberta Health, Campus Alberta Neuroscience, the MS Society of Canada, and Sanofi Genzyme Canada. Funding for the current competition was provided by Sanofi Genzyme Canada.
These up to two-year clinical and research fellowships offer unique training opportunities in multi-institutional collaborative clinical and research programs in Alberta. Recipients of the research Postdoctoral Fellowship (PDF) award will typically carry out their research activities at two Alberta institutions, while clinical recipients are encouraged but not required to have a multi-institutional component to their placement. Recipients with a multi-institutional placement will engage in research and training activities at their home institution, while also maintaining significant collaboration and connection to their partner institution.
Clinical fellowships will be valued at $60,000 per annum for up to two years with a Collaboration Allowance of $5000, while research fellowships will be valued at $37,000, with an $8000 Collaboration Allowance.
This competition is now closed.
CAN 2.0: Accelerating the Impact of Neuroscience in Alberta
Campus Alberta Neuroscience is pleased to announce the release of its new strategic plan, CAN 2.0: Accelerating the impact of neuroscience in Alberta. CAN 2.0 will continue to expand on existing collaborative research, education and translation initiatives and introduce four new signature initiatives to further its vision of improving brain health in Alberta and beyond.
2017 Postdoctoral Fellowship Competition Winner Announced
Campus Alberta Neuroscience is pleased to announce Andrew Beaudin as the winner of CAN’s 2017 Postdoctoral Fellow Competition. This year’s competition focuses on Albertan research in dementia and is offered in partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories and the Alzheimer Society of Calgary.
Under the supervision of Dr. Eric Smith (University of Calgary) and Dr. Christian Beaulieu (University of Alberta), Andrew will study the vascular reactivity and brain connectivity in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and cerebral amyloid angiopathy. He will test the hypothesis that altered vascular reactivity is associated with structural brain damage and loss of connectivity. Through this program, Andrew will develop methodological tools for examining brain physiology as well as learn how to use neuroimaging processing pipelines.
The Postdoctoral Fellowship Program offers a rich one- or two-year training opportunity in a multi-institutional collaborative research program across CAN’s affiliated institutions: University of Alberta, University of Calgary, and University of Lethbridge. The aim of the program is to create opportunities for Postdoctoral Fellows to expand their knowledge, gain experience with new tools and techniques, and to create province-wide connections within the Alberta neuroscience community. Recipients typically engage in neuroscience or mental health research and training activities at their home institution while also maintaining significant collaboration and connection to their partner institution.
The Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories offers a network of educational and support services for those living with dementia and their care partners through Help for Today. The society also funds research for effective treatments and finding a cure for dementia through Hope for Tomorrow.
The Alzheimer Society of Calgary helps people live well with dementia through provision of high quality, evidence-based dementia education, care and support. The approach to research involves integration and application of best and emerging practices to the pursuit of a transformed culture of care. Through its role as a convenor in the Calgary and area community, the organization connects people with the research opportunities that best match their own interests.
Dr. Jack Jhamandas
Dr. Samuel Weiss
Campus Alberta Neuroscience Welcomes New Chair
Campus Alberta Neuroscience (CAN) is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Jack Jhamandas as Steering Committee Chair.
Dr. Jhamandas is currently Distinguished University Professor in the Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine at the University of Alberta. He is a practising neurologist and neuroscientist whose research is focused on misfolded proteins in Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Jhamandas has held numerous positions at the University of Alberta and nationally. He has been involved with Campus Alberta Neuroscience since it was established in 2012 and brings a wealth of knowledge and diverse leadership experience to the table.
“I am deeply humbled by this opportunity to serve as Chair for the CAN Steering Committee,” Dr. Jhamandas says. “CAN has played a defining role in shaping the landscape of neuroscience and mental health research in Alberta, and I am thrilled to join the team and bring my own experiences to contribute to this important work.”
Campus Alberta Neuroscience extends its gratitude to Dr. Samuel Weiss, PhD, who is moving on from his role as inaugural Steering Committee Chair after being appointed Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction. Dr. Weiss is one of the visionaries who built the foundation for Campus Alberta Neuroscience and province-wide collaboration to increase the impact of neuroscience research, education and translation in Alberta. CAN thanks him for his leadership and vision and acknowledges the legacy he leaves that will continue long after his departure.
Dr. Weiss says, “it has been a pleasure to work with Campus Alberta Neuroscience and the broader Alberta neuroscience community over the past five years. I congratulate Dr. Jhamandas on his new appointment and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for CAN.”
Please join us in welcoming Dr. Jack Jhamandas as Chair of the Campus Alberta Neuroscience Steering Committee.
“If we can detect changes in the brain early, then we can test therapies before disabling symptoms set in,” says Eric Smith, associate professor in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Calgary.
Photo by Adrian Shellard, for the Hotchkiss Brain Institute
Brain Canada Funds Innovative Alberta-Wide Research Into Alzheimer’s
Leading researchers use advanced imaging techniques to study diagnostic biomarkers for dementia.
By Jordan Scott, for Campus Alberta Neuroscience, April 26, 2017
Eric Smith of the Cumming School of Medicine’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) has been awarded $1.5 million to support the development of new techniques to identify Alzheimer’s disease in its early stages.
Working with researchers from the Universities of Alberta and Calgary, Dr. Smith will work with patients across the province to determine new diagnostic biomarkers through advanced imaging techniques. Together, they will identify patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
“It’s one of the most comprehensive and innovative neuroimaging studies happening with these disorders,” says Smith, holder of the Katthy Taylor Chair in Vascular Dementia and an associate professor in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences.
Novel research could transform diagnosis
In addition to neuroimaging, Smith and his team will work towards the world’s first blood test for diagnosing Alzheimer’s, and preliminary data shows that they’re on the right track. “It would be a major advancement,” Smith says. “We could accurately diagnose people before they even develop symptoms.”
Blood tests and early diagnosis could overcome barriers to developing treatments and open the door to new therapies. “If we can detect changes in the brain early, then we can test therapies before disabling symptoms set in,” says Smith.
Interdisciplinary research capitalizes on expertise in Alberta
Brain Canada, with financial support from Health Canada through the Canada Brain Research Fund, will support Smith and his team through the Multi Investigator Research Initiative. Funding partners on this project are Alberta Innovates and the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories (alzAB/NT). Top researchers from across Alberta join Smith through Campus Alberta Neuroscience’s Imaging Consortium and Healthy Brain Aging and Dementia research team. Campus Alberta Neuroscience works with Alberta’s researchers and brain health stakeholders to increase the impact of neuroscience research, education and translation through collaboration.
The project’s funding partners also see significant potential in the outcomes of the work.
“We believe that the transformational approach taken by this group of researchers will allow big improvements in diagnosis,” says David Westaway, PhD, president of the AlzAB/NT. “It fits perfectly with our vision of a world without Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and we’re excited by the possibility of making a dramatic impact in the lives of those affected by dementia.”
On April 25, 2017, The Government of Canada and Brain Canada Foundation announced funding for this and 17 other new brain research projects across the country. Read more
Joining Smith in this cutting-edge series of projects are fellow HBI members Nils Forkert, PhD; Richard Frayne, PhD; Dr. David Hogan; Bruce Pike, PhD; and Dr. Peter Stys from the University of Calgary. Colleagues from the University of Alberta include Christian Beaulieu, PhD; Dr. Richard Camicioli; Roger Dixon, PhD; Liang Li, PhD; and Nikolai Malykhin, MD, PhD.
Smith is the leader of the Dementia and Cognitive Disorders NeuroTeam within the university-wide Brain and Mental Health research framework. Led by the HBI, Brain and Mental Health is one of six strategic research themes guiding the university towards its Eyes High goals.
Funding Available for Spinal Cord Injury Provincial Clinical Implementation Grants
The Alberta Paraplegic Foundation is providing Provincial Clinical Implementation Grants for collaborative, province–wide basic science and health research teams working in the area of spinal cord injury (SCI) in Alberta. The purpose of the SCI Provincial Clinical Implementation Grant is to provide limited short-term support of clinical implementation of evidence based treatments and best practices into SCI care provincially. The Provincial Clinical Implementation Grants will serve to bring together Alberta clinicians and researchers building upon existing strengths within the province. Proposals submitted to this program should represent unique or novel ideas with potential to improve SCI patient care and research/knowledge translation capacity among SCI clinicians and researchers in Alberta.
Funded teams will receive project funding from The Alberta Paraplegic Foundation, via the Alberta SCI Research Support Fund. A maximum of two projects will be funded at up to $20,000 CAD per project over a one to two year (12-24 month) term.
This competition is now closed.
Note: funding is also available to facilitate Alberta trainees’ participation in unique learning opportunities intended to build spinal cord injury scientific and research capacity. A maximum of $1,500 per award with a maximum total of $7,500 per funding cycle. Contact Chester Ho for more information.
Graduate Student Internship Opportunity
Campus Alberta Neuroscience (CAN) is looking for a University of Calgary graduate student in neuroscience, or a related field, for a Symposium Coordinator Internship Position. The placement will primarily involve planning and coordination support for CAN’s 6th annual provincial neuroscience symposium, to be held in Calgary in October 2017. The placement will be part-time (10 hours/week) over approximately six months.
The position will support program development, committee activity, venue logistics, marketing and promotion, and on-site coordination. The successful candidate will attend planning committee meetings and ensure that tasks and milestones are on schedule. Finally, the successful candidate will play a key role in marketing and promotion for the symposium.
This is a unique placement that will allow the intern to gain experience in a grassroots initiative that involves a geographically-distributed team environment. The placement will help CAN in its effort to make a significant impact on Alberta’s neuroscience and mental health community.
All University of Calgary full-time graduate students who are at least one year into their programs are eligible to apply for a placement. Please see the Transformative Talent Internship Eligibility Guidelines for more information on the Faculty of Graduate Studies requirements.
To apply, please see the posting on Career Link under Faculty of Graduate Studies. If you have any questions about the position please contact Clint Westgard, Partnership Coordinator.
Applications Now Being Accepted for the Spinal Cord Injury Pilot Project Grant Competition
The Alberta Paraplegic Foundation and Campus Alberta Neuroscience are accepting research proposals from collaborative, province-wide basic science and health research teams to provide Pilot Project grants in the area of spinal cord injury (SCI) research. The purpose of the Pilot Project Grant is to provide limited short-term support of research related to SCI in areas where preliminary data are scant or nonexistent. Research proposals submitted to this program should represent unique or novel ideas with potential to open significant new avenues of research in SCI.
Funded teams will receive project funding from The Alberta Paraplegic Foundation, via the Alberta SCI Research Support Fund and within-Alberta travel support to facilitate collaborative engagement from Campus Alberta Neuroscience. A maximum of four Pilot Projects will be funded at up to $30,000 CAD total (including all direct and indirect costs), over a one-year period.
Applications are intended to include investigation of primary spinal cord injury (i.e. SCI; spinal cord dysfunction resulting from a single diagnosis or etiology) of traumatic and non-traumatic origin. In this target population, SCI is defined as damage to the spinal cord that causes changes in its function, either temporary or permanent. These changes translate into loss of motor, sensory, or autonomic function in parts of the body served by the spinal cord below the level of the lesion. Injuries can occur at any level of the spinal cord and can be classified as complete injury, a total loss of sensation and muscle function, or incomplete, meaning some nervous signals are able to travel past the injured area of the cord. Depending on the location and severity of damage along the spinal cord, the symptoms can vary widely, from pain, numbness to paralysis and even devastating neurologic deficits and disability.
This competition is now closed.
Applications Now Being Accepted for the Spinal Cord Injury Equipment Grant Competition
The Alberta Paraplegic Foundation and Campus Alberta Neuroscience are accepting applications for Equipment Grants from basic science and health researchers working in the area of spinal cord injury (SCI) in Alberta. The purpose of the Equipment Grant is to provide assistance with funding of equipment purchases and maintenance costs.
Funded applications will receive equipment funding from The Alberta Paraplegic Foundation, via the Alberta SCI Research Support Fund. A maximum of 4-5 equipment grants will be funded at up to $7,000 CAD per applicant, over a one-year period.
Applications are intended to request equipment funding for investigations of primary spinal cord injury (i.e. SCI; spinal cord dysfunction resulting from a single diagnosis or etiology) of traumatic and non-traumatic origin. In this target population, SCI is defined as damage to the spinal cord that causes changes in its function, either temporary or permanent. These changes translate into loss of motor, sensory, or autonomic function in parts of the body served by the spinal cord below the level of the lesion. Injuries can occur at any level of the spinal cord and can be classified as complete injury, a total loss of sensation and muscle function, or incomplete, meaning some nervous signals are able to travel past the injured area of the cord. Depending on the location and severity of damage along the spinal cord, the symptoms can vary widely, from pain, numbness to paralysis and even devastating neurologic deficits and disability.
This competition is now closed.
Alberta MS Collaboration Seed Grant Competition
The Alberta Multiple Sclerosis Collaboration is accepting basic science and clinical research proposals from new Alberta-based investigators with a faculty appointment less than 5 years or experienced Alberta-based investigators new to MS research for seed multiple sclerosis (MS) research projects focused on neuroprotection and repair.
The Alberta MS Collaboration is a multi-stakeholder initiative supporting innovation in MS research and translation in Alberta. Current partners include the Alberta MS Network, Alberta Economic Development and Trade, Alberta Health, Campus Alberta Neuroscience, the MS Society of Canada, and Sanofi Genzyme Canada. Funding for the current competition was provided by Alberta Economic Development and Trade, Sanofi Genzyme Canada. Additionally, the Branch Out Neurological Foundation will provide funding for a project that is aligned with Branch Out Neurological Foundation objectives.
New researchers who are based in Alberta and hold a full-time, continuing faculty appointment made in the last five years may submit a proposal. As well, any researchers based in Alberta who hold a full-time, continuing faculty appointment and whose research has focused on an area other than MS may submit a proposal. A maximum of four seed projects will be funded at up to $75,000 CAD total (including all direct and indirect costs), over a one-year period.
This competition is now closed.
2 teams + $200,000 + 2 years = more MS research capacity
The University of Alberta’s Dr. Bradley Kerr (with co-principal investigator Dr. Gerlinde Metz from the University of Lethbridge) and University of Calgary’s Dr. V. Wee Yong (with co-principal investigator Dr. Olga Kovalchuk from the University of Lethbridge), have received $200,000 each over two years by the Alberta Multiple Sclerosis Collaboration (Alberta MS Collaboration).
“We’re really excited about the opportunities provided by the Collaboration and its partners,” says Dr. Yong. “This competition is helping to increase the capacity for MS research and translation in Alberta.”
The Team Grant Competition accepted basic science and health research team proposals from investigators based in Alberta for collaborative projects on multiple sclerosis (MS) focused on neuroprotection and repair. Applications were reviewed and ranked by an independent committee of MS experts from institutions outside the province of Alberta.
The Alberta MS Collaboration is a multi-stakeholder initiative supporting innovation in MS research and translation in Alberta. Current partners include the Alberta MS Network, Alberta Economic Development and Trade, Alberta Health, Campus Alberta Neuroscience, the MS Society of Canada and Sanofi Genzyme Canada. Funding for the neuroprotection and repair competition was part of the $1 million commitment provided by the Ministry of Alberta Economic Development and Trade and Sanofi Genzyme Canada.
Dementia project funding focuses on disease spread in the brain
The Alberta Prion Research Institute and the Alzheimer Society of Calgary — a partnership forged at the recent Campus Alberta Neuroscience international conference — are supporting an Alberta-led research team focusing on Alzheimer’s disease. Specifically, the team is investigating how the spread of abnormal amyloid plaques leads to decline in memory and brain activity.
Drs. Robert Sutherland (University of Lethbridge), Majid Mohajerani (University of Lethbridge) and David Westaway (University of Alberta) have received $144,000 to study the spread and functional outcomes of amyloid-ß in mice. Dr. Robert Sutherland sees the development of this model as a crucial step to advancing the study of treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. “Through the use of this model, we hope to establish a new, rapid system for evaluating new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.”
“We are really excited about the opportunity to support a team of Alberta researchers,” says Barb Ferguson, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Calgary. “This project will help us get closer to understanding how this disease spreads in the brain.”
The funding partnership resulted from discussions at CAN’s international conference Promoting Healthy Brain Aging and Preventing Dementia: Research and Translation (held May 24-27, 2016, in Banff, Alta.). By bringing together Alberta researchers, world-renowned experts in dementia research, and provincial and national dementia stakeholders, connections and partnerships were forged within the healthy brain aging and dementia provincial research community.
Neuro pilot flies into new partnership territory
The Universities of Calgary and Lethbridge are strengthening the Campus Alberta Neuroscience network this fall, offering an interactive shared course between the two institutions — and students are eager to take part in a groundbreaking, highly interactive initiative that breaks down barriers between campuses and enhances learning.
History, Philosophy, Society and Ethics of Neuroscience is being shared across the two sites as an initial pilot. “As far as we know, there is no course like this available in Canada, so we’re creating a unique resource for students in Alberta,” says Andrew Bulloch, course coordinator at the University of Calgary. Next year, CAN and the team of instructors hope to extend the course to Edmonton, too, to allow University of Alberta students the opportunity to take part alongside peers from other institutions.
“Sharing courses like this certainly benefits the neuroscience educational landscape in Alberta. It opens up a space for the sharing of expertise and creates an invaluable opportunity for learning that students wouldn’t be able to access otherwise,” says Bulloch. The course covers a myriad topics, including neuroethics, the discovery of the neuron and speech neuroscience. Students attend class at their home university and video technology enables them to connect with peers in real time, creating opportunities for wide-ranging discussion and to build the CAN trainee community.
Interns learn, hone skills and contribute to CAN’s impact
Two graduate students are advancing their knowledge and professional skills outside the classroom — applying their learning in a work environment and being paid for this experience alongside their studies — in internships with Campus Alberta Neuroscience. The opportunities were made possible through a partnership among partner universities’ Faculties of Graduate Studies and funding from the Government of Alberta.
Emily Lennon is taking her Master’s degree in public health at the University of Alberta. She’s working to enhance CAN’s communications activities (newsletters, announcements, social media, the website and more).
“I’m thrilled that I have this opportunity to learn about the mental health and neuroscience research community in Alberta while developing concrete skills in the communications field and pursuing a Master’s,” she says.
For his part, Pourya Karimian, an international student enrolled in the University of Alberta’s Master’s program in electrical and computer engineering, is helping to improve technology-driven accessibility to Alberta-based neuroscience research. He’s helping with the continuing refinement of CANdex by developing novel methods for quickly and accurately linking researchers with their PubMed publication list — by pressing a single button on their CANdex researcher profile.
“I like to think of myself as an adventurer,” he says. “My main goal is to take advantage of every opportunity in life to gain knowledge and experience, and I hope to achieve this in my current position as an intern with CAN.”
Successful internship programs work for organizations and students alike, and require the participation of both. CAN strives to connect neuroscience and mental health graduate students with stakeholders, the three partner universities and the broader community.
Healthy Brain Aging and Dementia Researchers Meet to Connect Nationally and Globally
The international conference, Promoting Healthy Brain Aging and Preventing Dementia: Research and Translation, brought together Alberta researchers and world-renowned experts in dementia research to discuss healthy brain aging, delaying or preventing dementia, and care services.
University part of Alberta partnership to advance research and improve care for MS patients
International Scholars Program Now Expanded
The Campus Alberta Neuroscience International Scholars Program (CANIS) has been expanded to include internationally recognized visiting scholars who participate in conferences or symposia, or who only visit one campus — provided there is significant engagement of the neuroscience and mental health academic community from other Alberta campuses.