Sep 21, 2022

World Alzheimer's Day Message from Dr. Tarek Rajji

About the TDRA, Statements
Dr. Tarek Rajji

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, making up about 60-80% of dementia cases. Alzheimer’s disease is not part of healthy aging, and on this World Alzheimer’s Day, I encourage you to embrace this year’s theme of ‘Know Dementia, Know Alzheimer’s’. As dementia quickly becomes one of society’s biggest health challenges, it is critical to share knowledge and raise awareness.

TDRA is a collaboration of the willing; this year’s campaign message, ‘together we can do so much’, rings true to our core. This year, TDRA welcomed back Unity Health Toronto as a formal partner. This partnership expanded our network of clinician-scientists, and will diversify our research areas. Together with our partners, community organizations, and people living with dementia and their caregivers/care partners, we are exploring and advancing dementia prevention and care.

This year, many of our initiatives have focused on examining modifiable risk factors for dementia. Particularly, depression, which accounts for about 4% of dementia prevalence. Supported by the Bell Let's Talk-Brain Canada Mental Health Research Program, we are collaborating on a study that aims to find a long-lasting treatment for depression. Under the Temerty-Tanz-TDRA Initiative, we have also awarded research fellowships and seed funding to projects that examine the intersection of depression and dementia. We look forward to discussing the ongoing results of these projects at our inaugural Temerty-Tanz-TDRA Workshop this fall.

Another focus has been developing novel treatment approaches for dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases. Our investigators are studying various forms of neuromodulation, which is a technology that acts directly upon nerve activity through delivering targeted stimuli. The types of stimuli we are investigating include magnetic, electrical, focused ultrasound, photobiomodulation, and deep brain stimulation. We are also investigating mitochondria, the powerhouse of human cells, as a potential target for treatment. Together with the Mitochondrial Innovation Initiative, we co-funded a fellowship that will examine the efficacy of light therapy for treating mitochondrial dysfunction.

In all that we do, we aim to keep the lived experience of dementia at the forefront. We make a concerted effort to include people living with dementia and their caregivers/care partners in all stages of our research – from inception through to knowledge translation. We are grateful to have an active and engaged Lived Experience Advisory Partners (LEAP), whose diverse experiences and insights enrich our research and improve its relevance. Members of our LEAP Council have also been instrumental in establishing key partnerships and collaborations. For example, helping to secure a CIHR Project Grant, which through a collaborative effort will examine the utility of assistive technology product and service bundles for dementia management in Canada.

The science of dementia is ever evolving. We will continue to support collaboration among researchers to make breakthroughs that, when embedded into care, will bring us closer to a future without dementia.


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