Leading research in difficult times to transform the journey of aging
Dr. Allison Sekuler
Sandra A. Rotman Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience, Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute and the University of Toronto
President & Chief Scientist, Baycrest Academy for Research and Education at Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care
President & Chief Scientist, Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI)


It is predicted that nearly 1 million Canadians will be living with dementia by the year 2030. As such, it is critical that we continue to invest in research to prevent, detect, and treat dementia, regardless of the economic challenges and uncertainty we are presently facing.

Maximizing impact through interdisciplinary research and key partnerships

To optimize aging and tackle the dementia crisis, scientists, staff, and trainees at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute (RRI) are paving the way toward the new, interdisciplinary field of predictive neuroscience for precision aging. This field brings together artificial intelligence (AI), neuroinformatics, biomarkers, and sensory and cognitive neuroscience together with information about individuals’ lifestyles and environments to model and predict how people will age in the future.

Baycrest is home to leading experts in all of these areas, and these experts are forming partnerships with key players in the field and opening doors for funding from a broad variety of sources, from federal agencies to diverse foundations and community-based organizations. In addition, Baycrest houses the scientific headquarters of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA), Canada’s largest national dementia research initiative.

With neuroscience at its core, predictive neuroscience for precision aging is a holistic approach that considers the brain in connection with the rest of the body, as well as the environment and society. Through this interdisciplinary approach, we are bringing the world of precision medicine into the field of aging and brain health. This will allow us to create personalized longevity and brain health prescriptions for the prevention, early detection, treatment, and care of dementia and related neurodegenerative disorders.

Harnessing and driving technological innovations in research and care

No matter the economic climate, the technology available to us is constantly evolving, and it is crucial that we adapt and use it to its full potential to make research as efficient and impactful as possible. This is precisely what we are doing at Baycrest’s Pamela & Paul Austin Centre for Neurology and Behavioural Support, which is home to a transformational AI-supported platform that offers precision medicine and personalized care. Staffed by researchers and an interprofessional clinical team integrating neurology sub-specialties, the Austin Centre coordinates assessment, diagnosis, and care for patients experiencing cognitive decline, dementia, and behavioural challenges, as well as movement disorders, including Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

Using a novel AI approach initially developed by the RRI and Baycrest’s Sam and Ida Ross Memory Clinic, the Austin AI platform will help clinicians quickly prioritize patients based on their needs; establish a therapeutic relationship; and provide timely access to memory health resources. The platform will also help clinicians understand each individual’s path for optimal aging, and develop predictive models to ensure personalized strategies are implemented for the prevention, early detection, treatment, and care of age-related neurodegeneration.

Creating a better future for all Canadians

In the face of economic challenge and uncertainty, we must remain optimistic and oriented toward building a better future for all. At Baycrest, this includes driving technological and research innovations, advancing basic science in the area of brain health and aging, supporting the next generation of scientific leaders, and adopting open science principles.

We are grateful to all our generous donors. However, government support of research and innovation in aging, brain health, and dementia remains imperative. Canada needs significant investment both in foundational research to further our understanding of aging and the human brain, and in translation and innovation programs to turn ideas into impact: developing, spreading, and scaling novel approaches that prevent, detect, and treat dementia.

Together, we can accelerate research, discovery, and innovation to benefit older adults everywhere, and to create a world where we can all age fearlessly.