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Dr. Sandra Black
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The Dr. Sandra Black Centre for Brain Resilience & Recovery

What if Alzheimer's and dementia could be treated, or even prevented?

Sunnybrook’s Dr. Sandra Black Centre for Brain Resilience & Recovery is a unique centre dedicated to answering this very question.

Led by renowned neurologist Dr. Sandra Black, the centre unites Sunnybrook’s top dementia experts to attack Alzheimer’s and dementia from multiple angles. From investigating biology, therapeutics and risk factors to crunching big data, this unique program specializes in uncovering the relationship between the brain’s microvasculature — the complex, intricate network of small blood vessels — and dementia. Our overarching goal is to prevent mental decline and promote brain resilience and recovery.

Together, we will change the way the world understands Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

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Understanding what factors drive Alzheimer’s

Some people live through old age without ever showing symptoms of dementia. Then upon autopsy, scientists find that their brains are actually quite damaged and they should have shown severe symptoms. But why?

This centre will seek to improve our understanding of the biological mechanisms that make some people more resistant than others to Alzheimer’s and other dementias. We’ll also look at risk factors and the interactions between genetics, lifestyle, environment and presence of other diseases – for example, history of blood pressure or diabetes, stroke, other types of brain injury, depression and more.

Armed with new insights, we aim to develop new personalized strategies to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

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Uncovering the most promising treatments

The Dr. Sandra Black Centre for Brain Resilience & Recovery will allow our experts to collaborate locally, nationally and internationally, aiming for treatments that could change the course of these devastating disorders.

Building on Sunnybrook’s extensive experience with complex clinical trials, we’ll test the most advanced theories of what causes common dementias – like Alzheimer’s – and work diligently to develop and deploy the most promising treatments.

These new treatments are likely to include both medications that address key targets in the brain and incorporate important lifestyle choices. Together, such treatments could slow down the underlying damaging processes that advance silently over decades before they result in symptoms of dementia.

Promoting health-system change

This centre will facilitate unprecedented collaboration across the health-care system. Our team will analyze data from across the city and the province to identify needs and opportunities to improve care and to uncover patterns that could enhance how physicians and health-care teams manage those at risk for Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Importantly, our scientists will work to optimize new and existing tests – such as imaging and blood tests that are just becoming available – and collaborate vigorously to develop guidelines for their clinical use.

Fostering knowledge exchange

As an academic health sciences centre, Sunnybrook is dedicated to fostering collaboration and sharing findings from studies. This is the only way for real progress: to work together to confront the challenge of preventing and treating Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

The centre will be at the leading edge of recent advances in effective prevention and aspire to discover better, safer treatments that promote resilience and recovery for the patients we serve at Sunnybrook and around the globe.

As we expand and share that knowledge, our team of experts will also help train the next generation of clinicians, researchers and health-care professionals, and foster international scientific exchange.

Learn more from Dr. Black