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Walter Swardfager
Walter Swardfager


Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
2075 Bayview Ave., Room M6 174
Toronto, ON
M4N 3M5

Phone: 416-480-6100 ext. 685409

Coordinator: Chelsi Major-Orfao
Phone: 416-480-6100 ext. 685404


  • B.Sc., 2003, honours biochemistry, University of Waterloo, Canada
  • M.Sc., 2006, pharmacology, University of Toronto, Canada
  • PhD, 2011, clinical pharmacology, U of T, Canada

Appointments and Affiliations:

Research Foci:

  • Mood and cognitive symptoms in Type 2 diabetes
  • Cerebrovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease and neuroinflammation
  • Metabolomic and neuroimaging biomarkers
  • Fitness and exercise interventions

Research Summary:

Dr. Swardfager’s research focuses on cognitive symptoms, particularly in later life. On-going studies explore the neuroimmunological intersection between psychiatric and metabolic diseases as an avenue to discover biomarkers, elucidate vulnerability factors and implicate new treatments. The mechanisms by which cardiopulmonary fitness and exercise interventions counteract neurodegenerative processes are of particular interest.

Disease areas of focus include depression, Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and stroke, which often occur together with disastrous consequences. Techniques used include genomics, neuroimaging, serum biomarkers and neuropsychiatric assessments. The lab also uses public health records to examine the impact of comorbid conditions such as depression and diabetes on long-term health outcomes in those with chronic diseases.

Current studies include:

  • improving effectiveness of exercise interventions for people with Type 2 diabetes
  • understanding genetic vulnerability to cerebral white matter disease in Alzheimer’s disease
  • using metabolic and endocrine changes in depressive episodes as biomarkers to implicate new avenues for treatment
  • mitigating the impact of diabetes and depression on functional and cognitive recovery from stroke

Selected Publications:

See current publications list at PubMed.

  1. Swardfager W, Cogo-Moreira H, Masellis M, Ramirez J, Herrmann N, Edwards JD, Saleem M, Chan P, Yu D, Nestor SM, Scott CJM, Holmes MF, Sahlas DJ, Kiss A, Oh PI, Strother S, Gao F, Stefanovic B, Keith J, Symons S, Swartz RH, Lanctôt KL, Stuss DT, Black SE. White matter hyperintensities and verbal memory; mediation by temporal lobe atrophy. Neurology. 2018;90(8).
  2. Swardfager W, Yu D, Scola G, Cogo-Moreira H, Chan P, Zou Y, Herrmann N, Lanctôt KL, Ramirez JE, Masselis M, Swartz RH, Sahlas DJ, Chan PC, Pettersen JA, Andreazza AC, Black SE. Peripheral oxidative stress markers are related to vascular risk factors and subcortical small vessel disease. Neurobiol Aging. 2017;59:91–97.
  3. MacIntosh BJ, Edwards JD, Kang M, Cogo-Moreira H, Chen J, Mochizuki G, Herrmann N, Swardfager W. Fatigue and depressive symptoms post stroke are differentially related to mobility and cognitive performance. Front Aging Neurosci. 2017;9:43.
  4. Hennebelle M, Otoki Y, Yang J, Hammock BD, Levitt AJ, Taha AY, Swardfager W. Altered soluble epoxide hydrolase-derived oxylipins in patients with seasonal major depression: an exploratory study. Psychiatry Res. 2017;252:94–101.
  5. Carter J, Swardfager W. Mood and metabolism; anhedonia as a clinical target in type 2 diabetes. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2016;69:123–132.
  6. Swardfager W, Yang P, Herrmann N, Lanctôt KL, Shah BR, A Kiss A, Oh PI. Depressive symptoms predict non-completion of a structured exercise intervention for those with type 2 diabetes. Diabetic Med. 2016;32(4):529–536.

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