On Nov. 20 and 21, Sunnybrook and the Canada Gairdner Foundation co-hosted an international symposium on focused ultrasound, a breakthrough technology that could change medicine forever. Dr. Sandra Black was the Chair person for "The future of focused Ultrasound: Perspectives from the clinical coalface" discussion.
From October 14th to 16th, Researchers at Sunnybrook hosted a prestigious meeting for the international partners of the 4th Leducq Transatlantic Network, for a collaboration focussed on “Understanding the role of the perivascular space in cerebral small vessel disease” (https://www.small-vessel-disease.org/). Lead Sunnybrook Leducq coordinator Dr. Sandra Black, along with Drs. Brad MacIntosh, Andrew Lim and Joel Ramirez will welcome attendees from Edinburgh, Copenhagen, Paris, Munich, London, Rochester, New Haven and Los Angeles, for this specialized intense dialogue to elucidate the role of these important spaces surrounding brain blood vessels in clearing toxins and mediating immune cell function in brain health, aging, stroke and Alzheimer’s Disease. The multidisciplinary group is comprised of leading investigators on cognition, imaging, inflammation and cellular function, animal models and metabolomics, whose combined expertise aims to advance the understanding of this important subtype of brain small vessel disease. The contributions of the Sunnybrook team will include many trainees and collaborators of the Sunnybrook scientists hosting the event, covering topics such as the impact of sleep apnea and small vessel disease on the development of Alzheimer’s Disease, and their significant impact on brain health. The project is supported by the Fondation Leducq (https://www.fondationleducq.org/), which promotes international collaborations studying cardiovascular and neurovascular disease. For more information, please contact Melissa Holmes (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Congratulations to Dr. Sandra Black, research program director of the Hurvitz Brain Science Program at Sunnybrook who received an honorary doctor of science from the faculty of applied health sciences at the University of Waterloo, on June 12, 2018. The honorary degree reflects her collaborations over the years with University of Waterloo scientists and recognizes international contributions to stroke and dementia. Learn more about University of Waterloo's Spring 2018 convocation honorary award recipients.
Sunnybrook scientists have made history as they used focused ultrasound to safely and non-invasively breach the blood-brain barrier (BBB) temporarily in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in a clinical trial. “There are many therapeutic drug treatments that do not work or cannot be properly tested in AD (in part) because they can not pass the BBB,” says Dr. Sandra Black, internationally renowned Brill Chair of Neurology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and University of Toronto, and a co-principal investigator of the new trial. “By opening up the BBB using low frequency ultrasound, we’ve taken a small but important step that opens up a whole new vista of possibilities. The hope is there may be a way to eventually open up multiple little windows, in a gentle way, in order to get large molecules like drugs and even stem cells into the brain. But we need to take it one step at a time.”
Dr. Sandra Black, director of the Hurvitz Brain Sciences Research Program at Sunnybrook Research Institute, commented on research linking prolonged use of anticholinergic drugs with physical brain changes and cognitive impairments in older adults. Anticholinergic drugs block the action of a chemical called acetylcholine in the nervous system. They are found in nonprescription allergy and cold medicines such as Benadryl and Dimetapp, as well as drugs to treat urinary incontinence and gastrointestinal symptoms. Researchers studied brain scans and cognitive test results of 451 seniors, including 60 who were taking anticholinergic drugs for at least 30 days. Differences among those taking anticholinergics included reduced brain volume and lower scores on memory tests.
Congratulations to Dr. Sandra Black who has been selected as the 2015 recipient of the Dean’s Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award, University of Toronto, for her internationally recognized accomplishments in stroke and dementia research. The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes a Faculty of Medicine graduate whose outstanding career achievements have earned them national or international prominence. These contributions can encompass leadership, research, teaching, clinical care, administration or public service. The recipient will have demonstrated the highest level of professionalism and serves as a role model for current and future health care professionals. The award was presented by Dean Trevor Young at the Dean’s Honour Roll Luncheon on November 16, 2015 at the Gairdner Museum. View the Alumni Award video featuring Dr. Black: https://youtu.be/BooFSy3VKiQ
Dr. Black has been appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada (O.C.), which recognizes national service or achievement. Dr. Sandra Black, Director of the Hurvitz Brain Sciences Research Program at Sunnybrook Research Institute is an internationally renowned cognitive and stroke neurologist. She holds the inaugural Brill Chair in Neurology, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto and Sunnybrook, and is the Sunnybrook Site Director of the Heart & Stroke Foundation Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery. As a leading clinical trialist in dementia, she is the current Executive Director of the Toronto Dementia Research Alliance, a multi institutional collaborative network of memory programs at the University of Toronto. In 2011 she was named to the Order of Ontario, “for being an assiduous physician leader and influential architect of the Ontario Stroke System, a specialized continuum from prevention to reintegration.” She has authored/ co-authored over 430 papers in a 25-year research career that has bridged dementia and stroke using neuroimaging to study brain behavior relationships, with a recent focus on interactions of Small Vessel Disease and Alzheimer’s disease. She has earned numerous mentorship and research awards, including election to the Royal Society of Canada in 2012, one of the highest honours accorded to Canadian scholars, cited for “combining enormous dedication to patients with cutting-edge science”.
BrainLab's most recent publication in the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE):
Ramirez, J., Scott, C. J. M., McNeely, A. A., Berezuk, C., Gao, F., Szilagyi, G. M., et al. Lesion Explorer: A Video-guided, Standardized Protocol for Accurate and Reliable MRI-derived Volumetrics in Alzheimer's Disease and Normal Elderly. J. Vis. Exp. (86) (2014).
"Lesion Explorer (LE) is a semi-automatic, image-processing pipeline developed to obtain regional brain tissue and subcortical hyperintensity lesion volumetrics from structural MRI of Alzheimer's disease and normal elderly. To ensure a high level of accuracy and reliability, the following is a video-guided, standardized protocol for LE's manual procedures."
Pubmed link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24797507
Dr. Sandra Black, director of the Brain Sciences Research Program at SRI, co-hosted the 2013 VasCog congress held in Toronto June 25 to 28. There were keynote addresses on vascular factors in dementia and the need for increased global attention to brain health. Other highlights of the congress included debates on whether vascular disease causes Alzheimer's disease, and the significance of microbleeding in the brain in dementia. New this year were workshops held a few days prior to the congress, an innovation introduced by Black due to the vast amount of knowledge streaming from this field. Black says she looks forward to collaborating with researchers from Asia, spurred by the workshop on harmonizing cognitive assessment tools so they can be used everywhere. "We were struggling with issues like how to do a cognitive assessment in Hong Kong, where literacy rates in certain residential areas are low, and with translating some of the assessment tools from English to Mandarin, Cantonese and Korean. The exciting part is that there's a real willingness to do this together because there's so much we gain by working across borders and ethnicities," says Black.
Dr. Sandra Black, Brill Chair in Neurology in the Department of Medicine at Sunnybrook and the University of Toronto, has been named to the Order of Ontario. Created in 1986, the Order of Ontario is the province's highest official honour and recognizes individual excellence and achievement in any field. The Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, will invest Dr. Black and 26 other appointees at a ceremony on Thursday, January 26 at Queen's Park. Dr. Black is one of very few clinical scientists who have an international reputation in both stroke and dementia. She has published more than 300 peer-reviewed papers, 62 invited chapters and articles, over 620 conference abstracts, and has presented at more than 530 invited lectures and continuing medical education events. Her research interests include vascular cognitive impairment and stroke recovery; the differential diagnosis and management of dementia (including Alzheimer's disease, frontotemporal degeneration, and Lewy body disease); and the use of advanced neuroimaging techniques to study brain-behaviour relationships in stroke and dementia, particularly the relationships between Alzheimer's and cerebrovascular disease. Dr. Black is a founding, executive and scientific planning committee member of the International Society of Vascular Cognitive and Behavioural Disorders, and is an executive committee member of the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative and the International Society to Advance Alzheimer's Research and Treatment. She is a founding member of both the Canadian Stroke Consortium of clinical stroke investigators and the equivalent Canadian dementia investigator consortium, the C5R. She serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Ontario Stroke Network, which oversees the Ontario Stroke System, and served as a member of the steering committee of the Canadian Stroke Strategy. Dr. Black was also Head of Neurology at Sunnybrook from 1995 to 2006, the first woman in Canada to serve as the Head of a Neurology Division.
At the recent Canadian Conference on Dementia (CCD) held in Montreal, Dr. Sandra Black, Brill Chair in Neurology, was awarded the Irma M. Parhad Award for Excellence by the Consortium of Canadian Centres for Clinical Cognitive Research (C5R). The award is given annually to an outstanding contributor in the field, who has helped lead the way to better understanding and treatment for patients suffering from cognitive disorders. Dr. Black directs the brain sciences research program and LC Campbell cognitive neurology research group at Sunnybrook Research Institute, and she is also Sunnybrook's site director for the Heart and Stroke Foundation Centre for Stroke Recovery. She is senior scientist at Baycrest's Rotman Research Institute and medical director of the Regional Stroke Centre for North & East GTA. C5R was founded in 1991 by a group of clinician investigators to facilitate sponsored and investigator-driven trials across Canada and has established a platform for knowledge exchange of clinical research and best practices.