Age-related cognitive decline and dementia are huge public health problems that have touched most of us through afflicted family or friends. Vascular mechanisms are estimated to account for about one-third of cognitive decline in the elderly, and cognitive decline is the most frequent manifestation of cerebrovascular disease. There is emerging evidence that treatment of vascular disease and vascular risk factors can reduce cognitive and functional decline. PHRI has extensive experience in clinical trials aimed at treatment of vascular risk factors and prevention of vascular disease. A series of innovative studies aimed at understanding and preserving brain health include the assessment of global variations in dementia in a prospective study in 26 countries (the PURE study), elucidating the impact of environmental and lifestyle factors on dementia, and undertaking biomarker analyses to discover novel potential modifiable pathways that lead to cognitive decline and dementia.
The PHRI Brain Health Initiative held its first workshop January 9 – 10, 2019 with the theme, “developing a research agenda to prevent dementia,” co-chaired by Dr. William Whiteley (cognition trials, outcomes), University of Edinburgh and Prof. Eric E. Smith (dementia, neuroimaging), University of Calgary. Other attendees from outside of PHRI/McMaster University included Patty Lindsay (knowledge translation) of the Heart and Stroke Foundation; Sandra Black (Alzheimer’s disease, neuroimaging), University of Toronto; Susan Bronskill (dementia assessment) of ICES; and Prof. Martin O’Donnell (geriatrics) of NUI-Galway.
The second workshop of the PHRI Brain Health Initiative was held April 1 and 2, 2019 at the home of PHRI in Hamilton, to discuss new directions for trials to reduce cognitive and functional decline. The workshop was chaired by Dr. William Whiteley, University of Edinburgh, and Prof. Jackie Bosch, PHRI. External participants included: Dr. Michelle Canavan and Prof. Martin O’Donnell of NUI-Galway; Prof. Malcolm Macleod, CAMARADES collaboration, University of Edinburgh (remote); Dr. Tali Cukierman-Yaffe, Tel Aviv University; Prof. Eric E. Smith, University of Calgary (remotely); Prof. Howard Chertkow, University of Toronto/CCNA/Rotman Research Institute; Prof. Jeff Williamson, J. Paul Sticht Center on Aging, Wake Forest School of Medicine. Participants from PHRI and McMaster included a broad representation across disciplines, including population genomics; epidemiology and biostatistics; endocrinology and metablolism; population health; statistics; neurology; engineering; pathology and molecular medicine, stroke and cognition, and more.