2018 Trainee Society Executive Committee Members

President: AmanPreet Badhwar

CCNA Team 9: Developing New Biomarkers

Dr. AmanPreet Badhwar is a postdoctoral fellow at the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal where her research focus is to understand the mechanisms underlying age-related dementias and develop biomarkers of disease progression by integrating observations from multi-modal, large-scale datasets such as brain imaging and ‘omics’ (genomics, proteomics, metabolomics). She is a CCNA Biomarker team member and is an awardee of postdoctoral fellowships from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Alzheimer Society of Canada. She holds a PhD from McGill University, where she integrated brain imaging, quantitative proteomics, and measures of neurovascular coupling to study the interaction of neuronal and neurovascular damage in Alzheimer’s disease models, and the impact of therapeutics on these two components. Aman was awarded the CIHR Age+ Prize for one of the publications arising from her thesis work. Aman is also engaged in public outreach through her artistic works, where the topics of brain organization, plasticity, and memory are recurrent.

Secretary-Treasurer: Allen McLean

CCNA Team 20: Issues in Dementia Care for Rural and Indigenous Populations

Allen is currently a PhD student in the College of Medicine – Rural Dementia Action Research (RaDAR) team and the Department of Computer Science – Computational Epidemiology and Public Health Informatics Lab (CEPHIL) at the University of Saskatchewan. His interdisciplinary research interests include the use of computer modeling and simulation software for addressing health systems challenges, systems science, mHealth, computational science, and innovative research methodologies. His research is generously funded by a variety of agencies including the University of Saskatchewan, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Saskatchewan Prevention Institute, and the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia. Allen previously attended the University of Victoria earning an MN (Advanced Practice Nursing) and MSc (Health Information Science) in a unique dual degree program for Nursing Informatics professionals. Allen has over 20 years’ experience in healthcare as an ultrasound technologist, clinical educator, team leader, community health RN, journal editor (Canadian Journal of Nursing Informatics), and health researcher.

Academic Coordinator: Lauren Bechard

CCNA Team 12: Mobility, Exercise and Cognition

Lauren is a PhD student in the interdisciplinary Aging, Health and Well-Being program at the University of Waterloo with Dr. Laura Middleton. Lauren’s research is situated at the intersection of activity, aging, and cognition, and seeks to understand what factors are associated with physical activity participation in cognitively-impaired older adults. Through this research, Lauren aims to identify strategies leveraging physical activity to achieve healthy and meaningful cognitive aging. Outside of academia, Lauren lives her research by volunteering with the local Alzheimer Society, and is an avid long-distance runner. Lauren is looking forward to filling the role of Academic Coordinator, and brings to the role multiple years of experience in educational development from her involvement with the University of Toronto – Department of Continuing Medical Education, the Toronto Stroke Network, and several student-led neuroscience and mental health symposia at the University of Toronto.

Communications Coordinator: Bruna Seixas Lima  

CCNA Team 10: Cognitive Intervention and Brain Plasticity

Bruna is a fourth year PhD student at the University of Toronto. Her research interests include neuropsychology, language, and brain-imaging studies. Currently, her focus lies on the investigation of discourse abilities of patients with neurodegenerative disorders. Bruna’s doctoral research builds upon her background in discourse analysis and linguistics to develop a novel method of analyzing the speech of these patients, which can help inform practice and contribute to better differential diagnosis of these conditions.

Social Coordinator: Saira S. Mirza

CCNA Teams 7 & 8: Vascular Illness and its Impact on Neurodegenerative Diseases & Lewy Bodies, Aging and Dementia

Dr. Saira Mirza is a postdoctoral fellow at the department Medicine – Division of Neurology at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto. Her research aims to understand shared genetic risks across dementias and to identify novel variants that contribute to the heterogeneity of dementias by exploiting intermediate neurological phenotypes such as cognitive and imaging markers, instead of clinical diagnosis. Through her research, Saira is also striving to identify novel imaging markers of fronto-temporal dementia. Saira earned her PhD in Epidemiology and a Master’s degree in Genetic Epidemiology from Erasmus Medical Center, University of Rotterdam, the Netherlands. She also has a Medical degree and an MPhil in Human Physiology from Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi, Pakistan. Saira holds a postdoctoral fellowship from CIHR-STAGE and from the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada.

Academic Committee Member: Charlene Chu 

Team 15: Gerontechnology and Dementia

Dr. Charlene Chu is a Registered Nurse, and a graduate of the collaborative doctoral program between the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing and the Institute of Aging. Her program of research is focused on designing and evaluating technological interventions to prevent physical decline in older adults. Her dissertation is the first physical activity intervention to deliver individualized physical activity to nursing home residents with dementia using a person-centered approach. Her work has been published in premier nursing and medical journals, including The Lancet Global Health. Dr. Chu is finishing her postdoctoral training funded by The Heart and Stroke Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute – University Health Network with Dr. Alex Mihailidis to examine the feasibility, acceptability, and effectiveness of artificially intelligent rehab robotics to improve the function and mobility of older adult stroke survivors.