TDRA Welcomes Dr. Tarek Rajji as its New Executive Director

September 4, 2020

The Toronto Dementia Research Alliance (TDRA) will welcome Dr. Tarek Rajji as its new Executive Director on September 8th, 2020.

Since 2012, this University of Toronto-led collaboration among Baycrest, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Sunnybrook, the University Health Network and previously St. Michael’s Hospital has been leading multi-site research studies and building research infrastructure to better understand, prevent and treat dementia. Dr. Rajji will step into the Executive Director role well prepared to lead and build on the successes of TDRA’s work, which he contributed to as a long-time member of TDRA’s Clinical Research Core and a Clinician Scientist in the field of dementia.

“Building on some great accomplishments over the past eight years, I am very excited to work closely with world-class dementia researchers in the city. Working together will unlock the power of collaboration among researchers, clinicians, patients, families, and other partners,” says Dr. Rajji.

Dr. Rajji obtained his M.D. from the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. He completed his residency in General Psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and his clinical training in Geriatric Psychiatry at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Pittsburgh.

Following his clinical training, Dr. Rajji joined CAMH and the University of Toronto as a Research Fellow in Geriatric Psychiatry in 2006. He stayed at CAMH as a Clinician Scientist and has since held several leadership roles. In 2012, he was appointed Chief of the Geriatric Psychiatry Division, which expanded in 2017 to become Adult Neurodevelopment and Geriatric Psychiatry with 24 academic Geriatric and Adult Neurodevelopmental Psychiatrists. As Chief, Dr. Rajji grew the geriatric/older adult services, increased the research budget, and played a key role in establishing the Azrieli Centre for Adult Neurodevelopment in 2018.

In 2017, Dr. Rajji was named the Deputy Physician-in-Chief for Research at CAMH, where he continues to lead large initiatives to expand clinical research at CAMH. He is also a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto.

In addition to his leadership roles, Dr. Rajji is actively involved in clinical research in the fields of cognitive disorders and dementia. One of his primary research areas is using brain stimulation and an understanding of brain functioning (neurophysiology) to study how the brain changes and adapts (neuroplasticity) in patients with or at risk of Alzheimer’s dementia. He also leads a research program testing whether brain stimulation alone or in combination with other interventions can enhance thinking and memory in patients with or at risk of Alzheimer’s dementia, including a multi-site clinical trial called PACt-MD that is currently running at all TDRA partner sites.

Dr. Rajji also conducts research in two additional areas: (1) studying mental health symptoms of people with Alzheimer’s dementia, such as agitation and aggression, and leading several initiatives to develop integrated care pathways for late-life mental health conditions; and (2) understanding thinking, memory and physical changes that occur in older adults with severe mental illness over time, and developing interventions to prevent these cognitive and functional declines.

With his extensive clinical and research background in older adult mental health and dementia, Dr. Rajji is eager to apply his knowledge and expertise to advancing dementia research and care in Toronto: “Through TDRA, the neuroscience community will also continue to be a powerful partner towards dementia prevention, identification, and care. Dementia affects everyone, directly or not. An alliance like the TDRA is critical to bring diverse lines of research together for unexpected discoveries to tackle one of the biggest challenges of today’s society.”

Along with the change in TDRA’s leadership, the location and contact information for the TDRA Coordinating Centre will also change. Since 2012, the TDRA has graciously been housed at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre but will be transitioned to CAMH in early September. With plans for the TDRA Coordinating Centre to be housed within CAMH Geriatric Psychiatry, the TDRA will continue its work to bring clinicians and researchers from across Toronto together to embed research into dementia care.

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Please contact TDRA Coordinating Centre staff for more information about the change in contact information.

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