Sep 21, 2021

World Alzheimer’s Day Message from Dr. Tarek Rajji

About the TDRA, Statements, Announcements
World Alzheimer's Day

There are over 500,000 Canadians living with dementia, a figure which is expected to nearly double by 2030.[1] Whether directly or indirectly, dementia affects everyone. It presents one of the biggest challenges to today’s society, and so it is critical that we continue to bring together diverse lines of research to better understand, prevent, and treat dementia.

On this World Alzheimer’s day, I invite you to join the Toronto Dementia Research Alliance (TDRA) in expressing thanks to those who work to help people living with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and related dementias. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, clinicians and healthcare staff, researchers, patient organizations, caregivers, and families have worked tirelessly to support those living with dementia through countless challenges and changes. These individuals have learned to pivot, re-think, and adjust the provision and advancement of dementia care. All while managing long-hours, stress, and uncertainty. We are so grateful for their continued efforts.

Despite the challenges that COVID-19 has brought, there is hope in the science of dementia. The Canadian and international community of researchers continue to work together to find better ways to more accurately diagnose AD and dementia. Toward this effort, this year, the TDRA announced an agreement on a standard clinical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) protocol for dementia across partner sites. This standardized approach will help neurologists identify the cause of dementia in their patients. Additionally, together with our partners, the TDRA developed the Toronto Cognitive Assessment (TorCA), which is a validated cognitive tool being used by clinicians to detect early stages of dementia.

This past year we also launched a collaboration with the Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases that will focus on better understanding the links between depression and dementia. This initiative will support the training of future scientists and the funding of innovative new projects in this area.

We are working to better connect the public with dementia research, which led to another new collaboration with the Alzheimer Society of Toronto. Using the Toronto Dementia Network platform, we are curating a list of active studies in the area of dementia and related disorders for people living with dementia and caregivers/care partners, as well as for individuals at risk for dementia or older healthy individuals. We are excited about this collaboration that promotes community access to state-of-the-art research in the Toronto region.

This past year, and for the first time since 2003, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a drug (aducanumab) for the treatment of early-stage AD in the United States. There is consensus among the scientific community that much work is to be done before declaring a cure has arrived. However, the aducanumab trials have produced many learnings, which we hope will help to design future aducanumab and other medications trials. Additionally, a number of promising experimental medications for AD are currently under study.

Working together with our partners, community organizations, people living with dementia and their caregivers/care partners, we are hopeful that  TDRA will continue to contribute meaningfully to the advancement and standardization of dementia care, and improve the lives of those living with dementia!


Dr. Tarek Rajji, MD, FRCPC
Executive Director, Toronto Dementia Research Alliance