Baycrest scientist awarded prestigious Canada Research Chair post
November 7, 2017
Baycrest Health Sciences has been awarded another Canada Research Chair by the Canadian government, bringing the total number of chair-holders to three.
Dr. Jed Meltzer, scientist at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute and psychology professor at the University of Toronto, has been named Canada Research Chair in Interventional Cognitive Neuroscience. During his five-year term, Dr. Meltzer aims to accelerate the development of promising treatments for incurable brain diseases and disorders.
Just as doctors use cholesterol levels to tell whether a drug will reduce a person’s risk of heart attack, Dr. Meltzer believes that brain activity will tell a similar story about different interventions used to treat brain disorders. He specializes in using a magnetoencephalography (MEG) machine – Baycrest is one of the few institutions in Canada with this type of technology – to map a person’s brain activity while they are undergoing treatment.
“There are interventions out there that have enhanced brain function among patients,” says Dr. Meltzer. “If we can measure how exactly these change the brain’s activity, we could test right away whether a given intervention is likely to work for an individual. Once we know that, we will be able to fast-track recovery for acquired disorders like stroke and traumatic brain injury, and increase resilience to progressive disorders like dementia.”
Dr. Meltzer’s research also involves using stimulation to bolster the brain’s natural processes of neuroplasticity (its ability to “rewire” or compensate at any age), in order to fight the effects of stroke and dementia.
“During a stroke, some areas are destroyed, but some regions are affected in a way that may be reversible,” says Dr. Meltzer. “By improving our methods to characterize abnormalities in brain regions affected by disease, we will be able to tell which interventions are most effective at restoring healthy function.”
There’s been encouraging work done when using brain stimulation to boost memory and brain function among dementia and stroke patients, adds Dr. Meltzer.
“Thanks to the Government of Canada’s investment, our scientists have the opportunity to lead transformational research programs that will help us tackle one of the greatest public health challenges we face,” says Baycrest President and CEO Dr. William Reichman. “Brain health is at the top of mind of many Canadians and scientists like Dr. Meltzer are leading the charge to improve our aging experience.”
Launched in 2000, the Canada Research Chair Program was created by the Government of Canada to attract and retain some of the world’s most accomplished and promising minds.
“Dr. Meltzer’s work is a great example of how Rotman Research Institute scientists are trailblazing unique paths to improve the livelihood of those living with neurodegenerative diseases,” says Dr. Allison Sekuler, Vice-President, Research and the Sandra A. Rotman Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience at Baycrest Health Sciences. “His work exemplifies the link between foundational and applied research: it advances our understanding of cognitive and language processing, and will pave the way to use advanced technological tools for treatment of brain disorders, including stroke and dementia.”
About Baycrest Health Sciences
Baycrest Health Sciences is a global leader in geriatric residential living, healthcare, research, innovation and education, with a special focus on brain health and aging. Fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, Baycrest provides excellent care for older adults combined with an extensive clinical training program for the next generation of healthcare professionals and one of the world’s top research institutes in cognitive neuroscience, the Rotman Research Institute. Baycrest is home to the federally and provincially-funded Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation, a solution accelerator focused on driving innovation in the aging and brain health sector, and is the developer of Cogniciti – a free online memory assessment for Canadians 40+ who are concerned about their memory. Founded in 1918 as the Jewish Home for Aged, Baycrest continues to embrace the long-standing tradition of all great Jewish healthcare institutions to improve the well-being of people in their local communities and around the globe. For more information please visit: www.baycrest.org
About Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute
The Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences is a premier international centre for the study of human brain function. Through generous support from private donors and funding agencies, the institute is helping to illuminate the causes of cognitive decline in seniors, identify promising approaches to treatment, and lifestyle practices that will protect brain health longer in the lifespan.
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