Researchers in B.C.

read

Learn more about researchers in B.C. who are dedicated to improving the lives of people affected by dementia.

Dementia-friendly research session

The Alzheimer Society of B.C. supports research directed at finding the cure for Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, and improving the lives of the estimated 70,000 people in our province who are living with the disease as well as their families.

Each year, a portion of funds from the Alzheimer Society Research Program support research in B.C.

Researchers currently funded in B.C.

We’re pleased to announce that four B.C. researchers received funding from the 2021 Alzheimer Society Research Program in the areas of: cause, risk and prevention, developing treatments and diagnosis and detection.

Cause

Douglas Allan

Dr. Douglas Allan
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.

This researcher is a recipient of the Mike & Valeria Rosenbloom Foundation Research Award.

Project: Generation of a novel model to discover how to slow the spread of Tau pathology through the brain in tauopathies like Alzheimer’s disease.

Award/Grant: Proof of Concept Grant

"Tangles are rope-like structures made of an abnormal form of the protein tau. Tangles are found in nerve cells of people with Alzheimer’s disease. We know that pathological tau jumps between connected nerve cells in the brain, causing the spread of tangles and causing the symptoms of dementia.

No one understands how pathological tau jumps from one nerve cell into another, causing tangles and disease around the brain as it spreads. Our proposal creates a tool to study how spread occurs, so we can stop it, and also develop therapies to halt disease spread and prevent dementia."

Risk and prevention 

Liisa Galea

Dr. Liisa Galea

University of British Columbia

Title: Sex Matters: Understanding the influence of sex and APOE genotype on hippocampal plasticity and cognition.

Award/Grant: Proof of Concept Grant

"The hippocampus, located in the brain, is important for memory and produces new brain cells in adulthood. This 'neurogenesis' is decreased with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, and is related to increased inflammation seen in Alzheimer’s. Women show reduced neurogenesis and increased neuroinflammation that may be related to the greater lifetime risk of women om developing Alzheimer’s.

We found that biological sex influences hippocampal neurogenesis with fewer stem cells in women and more inflammation. We examine whether sex differences in inflammation and levels of stem cells increase cognitive decline via changes in neurogenesis in middle age, dependent on biological sex and genotype for greater risk for Alzheimer’s."

 

Developing treatments 

Ken Harder

Dr. Ken Harder

University of British Columbia

Title: Treating Alzheimer's disease using patrolling monocyte adoptive cell therapy.

Award/Grant: Proof of Concept Grant

"Alzheimer’s disease is believed to be caused by an accumulation of tangled proteins such as amyloid-beta, which form deposits around brain cells causing inflammation and death. Although there is currently no effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, one promising strategy is to target the amyloid beta deposits and inflammation in the brain.

We will test our hypothesis that an infusion of a healing immune cell called “patrolling-monocytes” into mice with Alzheimer’s disease will work as a treatment. We will also study an Alzheimer’s disease mouse model with elevated numbers of patrolling-monocytes. Patrolling-monocytes could enter the brain and clear away amyloid beta and dead cells."

Diagnosis and detection 

Myeong Jin Ju

Dr. Myeong Jin Ju

University of British Columbia

This researcher is funded jointly by Alzheimer Society of Canada Research Program (ASRP) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Aging.

Title: Hyperspectral Intracellular Dynamic Retinal Imaging for Alzheimer’s Disease Pathophysiology.

Award/Grant: New Investigator Grant

"A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease still heavily relies on self-reported symptoms and tests that your doctor administers to assess memory and thinking skills. Additionally, current laboratory and imaging tests are costly, invasive, time-consuming and rarely performed prior the onset of the irreversible clinical symptoms brought on by Alzheimer’s.

Would retinal imaging be suitable for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease? If so, what obtainable information from the retinal imaging would be essential to detect an early indicator of Alzheimer’s? Is the indicator specific enough to diagnose Alzheimer’s, ruling out any other retinal diseases?"

Other research projects in B.C.

Since the Program's start in 1989, over $59 million has been invested in grants and awards nationally, including $6.5 million to 76 research projects here in B.C.

Through the support of the ASRP, dementia researchers have been able to work on a wide variety of research projects, including the following:

Voices in Motion: An intergenerational choir that provides a voice for people with dementia and caregivers through the power of music

  • Dr. Debra Sheets, University of Victoria
  • Learn more about this project here.

IT WORKs: Adopting new and accessible technology such as iPads to emphasize person-centred care in hospitals

  • Dr. Lillian Hung, Simon Fraser University
  • Learn more about this project here.

Subjective cognitive decline: Giving a voice to the experiences of those with subjective cognitive decline to help identify individuals who are at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease

  • Jordan Ali, University of Victoria
  • Learn more about this project here.

Building trust to facilitate access to dementia care for immigrant older adults: Identifying ways to foster relationships of trust among immigrants affected by dementia and encouraging them to reach out to multicultural agencies

  • Dr. Sharon Koehn, Simon Fraser University
  • Learn more about this project here.

More useful links and resources

To learn about dementia-friendly research, find out about the biggest research stories of the past year and get tips on how to spot unreliable research, read our annual research publication, “A focus on research” – 2019 edition, 2020 edition.

Learn more about the Alzheimer Society Research Program here.

Do you have specific questions about research? Call us at 1-800-667-3742 or email [email protected]