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Brain Health Research

Emerging evidence shows that treating vascular disease and vascular risk factors can reduce cognitive and functional decline. Stroke and cognition researchers at PHRI are conducting, and collaborating in, international work on dementia and vascular disease, including the PHRI Brain Health Initiative launched in 2019.

A leader in stroke research for decades – including our landmark study, INTERSTROKE, which identified the 10 greatest risk factors responsible for 90% of strokes globally – PHRI’s high-impact work in this area includes the development of an optimal cognitive test for international clinical trials, and collaboration in the first large stroke registry in a developing country (India).

Team Members in Brain Health

Robert Hart

Senior Scientist

Robert Hart
Senior Scientist

Robert Hart is Professor of Medicine (Neurology) at McMaster University and a vascular neurologist at Hamilton Health Sciences. After completing a fellowship in cerebrovascular disease at the Oregon Health Sciences University, he spent most of his career at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio before relocating to McMaster University in September 2011.

He has a long-standing interest in stroke, stroke research, and clinical trials. He has directed several randomized clinical trials serving as the principal investigator of the NIH/NINDS-sponsored Stroke Prevention in Atrial Fibrillation (SPAF) I, II and III trials (1987-2000) and co-principal investigator of the NIH/NINDS-sponsored Secondary Prevention of Small Subcortical Strokes (SPS3) randomized trials (2001-2013). Antithrombotic therapies to prevent stroke in atrial fibrillation and especially novel oral anticoagulants are areas of special interest. He has published more than 250 articles in peer-reviewed journals.

Mike Sharma

Scientist

Mike Sharma
Scientist

Mike Sharma, MD MSc FRCPC, is the Michael G DeGroote Chair in Stroke Prevention at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. His research focus has been on developing new antithrombotic treatments, incorporating magnetic resonance imaging endpoints into the design of stroke prevention trials and examining the effects of anticoagulants on stroke recurrence and covert brain infarcts.  He has led trials and sub-studies in large prevention trials focused on these areas including COMPASS MIND, NAVIGATE ESUS, DATAS II and currently AXIOMATIC-SSP, a trial of FXI inhibition for stroke prevention.

He is the past Chair of the Canadian Stroke Consortium, the professional organization for stroke physicians in Canada and established the stroke program at the University of Ottawa. He is committed to developing integrated processes for stroke care and developing human and system capacity for the next generation of stroke trials.

Dr Ashkan Shoamanesh
Dr Ashkan Shoamanesh
Ashkan Shoamanesh

Scientist

Ashkan Shoamanesh
Scientist

Ashkan Shoamanesh is the founding Director, Hemorrhagic Stroke Research Program and Scientist, at PHRI, Assistant Professor of Medicine (Neurology), McMaster University,  and Director, Stroke Fellowship Program at Hamilton Health Sciences and McMaster. He is the inaugural Marta and Owen Boris Chair in Stroke Research and Care at McMaster. His research is focused on improving the clinical care of patients with stroke or who are at risk for stroke resulting from blood vessel rupture and bleeding into the brain.He is the founding Chair of the Canadian Hemorrhagic Stroke Trials Initiative (CoHESIVE) and leads as principal investigator the global phase III ENRICH-AF trial investigating optimal stroke prevention in intracranial hemorrhage survivors with atrial fibrillation in 22 countries.

He has been awarded the most prestigious early career awards in stroke granted by the American Heart/Stroke Association (2015 Mordecai Y.T. Globus and 2019 Robert G. Siekert New Investigator Awards in Stroke), American Academy of Neurology (2020 Michael S. Pessin Stroke Leadership Prize), and Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (2019 Henry J.M. Barnett Scholarship – recognizing the highest ranked National New Investigator in cerebrovascular disease research), amongst other notable awards, including the 2019 International Stroke Conference Paul Dudley White International Scholar Award and the 2014 European Stroke Conference Young Investigator Award.

Stuart Connolly

Senior Scientist

Stuart Connolly
Senior Scientist

Stuart Connolly is a Professor of Medicine at McMaster University and a cardiac electrophysiologist at Hamilton Health Sciences. He became a faculty member at McMaster University in 1983 and was awarded a full professorship in 1994. He was also appointed as the inaugural holder of the Salim Yusuf Chair in Cardiology at McMaster University.

He has published more than 270 scientific articles in the field, and is currently a member of the editorial boards for a number of prominent cardiology journals, including Heart, the American Heart Journal and the Journal of Pacing and Electrophysiology. His main research interests are focused on the evaluation of treatments for heart rhythm disorders. His academic career has been largely devoted to the design and execution of controlled clinical trials in this area.

He holds a Masters degree from Fordham University, New York, and an MD from McGill University in Montreal. He received his specialist training in cardiology at the University of Toronto and at Stanford University.

Jackie Bosch

Investigator

Jackie Bosch
Investigator

Jackie Bosch started working with Salim Yusuf in 1993, before PHRI was formally created, as she was completing her Masters in Clinical Epidemiology, with the intent to learn how to do clinical trials so she could run trials in post-stroke rehabilitation. Most recently, she has been a co-investigator on large trials in primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, as well as understanding the causes of functional decline as well as developing simple, internationally applicable interventions to improve post-stroke disability.

She is Assistant Dean of the Occupational Therapy program, School of Rehabilitation Sciences, McMaster University, and has received awards such as the (McMaster) President’s Award for Outstanding Service, and the PHRI Award for Outstanding Contributions to Global Collaborations. She has more than 65 peer-reviewed publications.

Kanjana Perera

Investigator

Kanjana Perera
Investigator

Kanjana (Sashi) Perera is an Investigator in the Brain Health research program at PHRI, Assistant Professor, Medicine (neurology), McMaster University, and a stroke neurologist at Hamilton Health Sciences. Her main research focus is on secondary stroke prevention, cryptogenic stroke, and uncommon causes of stroke and the optimization of clinical care in this patient population.

She has served as Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator for Phase II and III clinical trials, and is on the adjudication committees for international multicenter stroke/cardiovascular trials. She has won research awards, and her work has been published in high-impact medical journals. She obtained her medical degree from Sri Lanka with Honors for academic excellence. She completed her training in Neurology at the University of Western Ontario in 2013 and subsequently pursued a fellowship in Stroke/Vascular Neurology at McMaster University.

Eric Smith

Associate Scientist

Eric Smith
Associate Scientist

Eric Smith is a Professor of Clinical Neurosciences, and the Katthy Taylor Chair in Vascular Dementia in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Calgary, and Hotchkiss Brain Institute, and a member of the Calgary Stroke program. His research program has three main components: Population studies of brain health, using neuroimaging to identify predictors of cognitive impairment and decline; biomarker studies in patients with cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease and cerebral amyloid angiopathy; and quality improvement and health outcomes research in patients with stroke and intracerebral hemorrhage. His research has been funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions, Canadian Stroke Network, and the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

He received his MD degree from McGill University in 1998 and completed a residency in Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, teaching hospitals of Harvard Medical School. A one-year fellowship in Stroke and Vascular Neurology was completed at Massachusetts General Hospital in 2003. He earned a Master of Public Health degree (MPH) from the Harvard School of Public Health in 2005.

Ellison Themeles

Associate Program Manager

Ellison Themeles
Associate Program Manager

Ellison Themeles’ experience includes more than 20 years in the conduct, execution and management of large, international clinical trials involving both medical devices and pharmaceutical agents in the area of cardiovascular disease and arrhythmias.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Gerontology and Sociology, and a Master of Science Degree in Health Research Methodology, from McMaster University.

Amanda Taylor

Senior Research Coordinator

Amanda Taylor
Senior Research Coordinator

Amanda Taylor is a Senior Research Coordinator who joined PHRI in 2007. She currently coordinates trials in stroke, and has experience conducting trials in acute coronary syndrome and arrhythmia. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree (Honours) in Neurobiology from Brock University.

Jodi Miller

Senior Research Coordinator

Jodi Miller
Senior Research Coordinator

Jodi Miller has more than 15 years experience in academic research. She has been at PHRI since 2012 where she has coordinated large international industry and investigator initiated trials. In her current role she coordinates clinical trials and clinical quality assurance projects in stroke.

Jodi has a BSc in Physics from Mount Allison University and a PhD in Medical Biophysics with a focus on magnetic resonance imaging applications from Western University.

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Navigate ESUS

Brain Health

The objective of Navigate ESUS, a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, active-comparator, event-driven, superiority phase III...

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