Graduate Research Awards
The Graduate Research Scholarships is awarded to full-time graduate students in any faculty who is conducting research related to Alzheimer's disease and other dementias (ADOD). The research should be in support of projects that will significantly advance scientific and clinical knowledge, and improve the quality of life for both those with the disease and their caregivers.
Selections will be based on the applicants' potential to contribute to knowledge about Alzheimer's disease and other dementias; the quality and feasibility of the applicant's research proposal; the capability of the applicant to undertake the research, and recommendations by a faculty member who will supervise the applicant. Click on the graphic below for further application information.
The 2016-2017 Graduate Research Award Recipients
Masters Award Recipient: Jacqueline Kueper
Current research suggests that the best strategies for preventing Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementia syndromes will involve intervening when people have mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a pre-dementia state. To properly study MCI and new treatment approaches, advancements in assessment tools are needed. The current ‘gold standard’ used to decide whether a treatment is beneficial cannot detect cognitive changes in MCI, nor does it assess other important indicators of disease severity such as motor function and the ability to perform complex daily tasks. This research project will evaluate why the current ‘gold standard’ does not work well in MCI, and try to improve its performance by adding items that go beyond classic cognitive tests.
Read Jacqueline's interim report on her research here.
Doctoral Award Recipient: Alex Major
Common problems in Alzheimer’s disease include a lack of acetylcholine, an important chemical for attention and memory, and accumulation of toxic proteins such as amyloid beta and tau. This can lead to cognitive deficits such as loss of short-term memory. Recently developed drugs targeting M1 muscarinic receptors can imitate the action of acetylcholine and may also counteract toxic protein accumulation. This project will investigate how these muscarinic drugs affect frontal cortex, a brain region important for complex cognitive functions, and may validate muscarinic drugs as a future treatment in Alzheimer’s disease.
The 2015 - 2016 Master's Graduate Research Award Recipients
Masters Award Recipient: Sehrish Haider
Sehrish is a Master's candidate in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences with a research focus on culturally and linguistically diverse older adults. Sehrish is in her third term of a six term program.
To read Seherish's progress report, click here.
Older adults from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (CALD) account for over 20% of Canadian seniors. As the prevalence of dementia increases, the proportion of CALD older adults will continue to rise. Older adults from CALD backgrounds, particularly those with dementia, face numerous barriers accessing healthcare including difficulty using and understanding Canada’s two official languages, and a lack of knowledge and understanding of the healthcare system. The objective of this research is to identify and raise awareness regarding the barriers faced by CALD individuals in order to facilitate the development of strategies to improve healthcare access by the vulnerable group.
The 2014 - 2015 PhD Graduate Research Award Recipients
Doctoral Award Recipient: Lindsay Oliver
Lindsay is a PhD candidate in Neuroscience and is focusing her research on “Enhancing social and emotional functioning in frontotemporal dementia: Effects of oxytocin and emotional mimicry".
Frontotemporal dementia is a currently untreatable neurodegenerative disorder producing severe social and emotional impairments, including loss of empathy. Oxytocin has recently been shown to improve empathy in healthy individuals and some patient groups. Support for emotional imitation enhancing empathic experience also exists. The present study will use functional brain imaging and oxytocin administration during emotion observation and imitation in patients with frontotemporal dementia. The effects of oxytocin and emotional imitation on social cognition and brain activity will be determined, providing insight into the mechanisms underlying symptoms of frontotemporal dementia and the potential for oxytocin and/or emotional imitation as forms of treatment.
To learn more about Lindsay's research, supported by the Foundation of the Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex, click here.
Previous recipients of Graduate Research Awards
Jennifer Au, recently completed her Masters of Science degree in Anatomy and Cell Biology in 2015 with a research focus on “examining the role in mediating the interaction between Alzheimer’s Disease and stroke and investigate the therapeutic potential of catalase-SKL, a biochemically engineered antioxidant know to reduce oxidative stress experimentally.
Ashleigh Vella, M.Ed. Counselling Psychology, is the 2014 Graduate Research Award recipient and is conducting research on the grief experience of Alzheimer's disease caregivers. Her research into the grief experiences of Alzheimer’s disease caregivers aims to understand how grief reactions and losses shift over the progression of the disease, and to explore how caregivers need or want to be supported. The present study is testing the hypotheses that 1) grief changes with the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, (2) caregivers will think about their losses differently at each stage of Alzheimer’s disease, and (3) ambiguous loss is a gradual process that progresses with the stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
The selected top-ranked candidate for the 2013-14 Doctoral Award is Rebecca Affoo –PhD Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. Ms. Affoo’s research is examining the effects of Alzheimer’s disease on three related functions: swallowing, salivary flow, and cardiovascular regulation. Her work is testing the hypothesis that impaired swallowing in Alzheimer’s disease can be predicted from changes in cognition, salivary flow and cardiovascular regulation. Swallowing problems have a profound impact on overall health and quality of life. By understanding the impact of swallowing problems on Alzheimer’s disease, it is the hope that the findings of this research can improve approaches of caregiving for persons with Alzheimer’s disease.
The2013 recipient of the Masters Award is Ankur Bodalia – M.Sc. Pharmacology for his research project, Contribution of pannexin channels to beta-amyloid1-42 induced neurotoxicity in hippocampal neurons. These pannexin channels have been previously implicated in neuronal damage/death. Part of Mr. Bodalia’s research is to conduct experiments to identify a mechanism by which the accumulation of beta-amyloid1-42 produces a molecular signal within neurons to ultimately activate pannexin channels. The project seeks to answer whether the amount of neuronal death seen in Alzheimer’s disease can be reduced by disrupting the pathway between beta-amyloid1-42 and pannexin activation. Mr. Bodalia will be participating in an upcoming conference where he will present the up to date research and receive feedback from an international panel of experts in the field of neurodegenerative disease research.