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Scientist profiles S-Z

SRI Profiles

Dr. Rick Swartz, MD, PhD

Assistant professor

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
2075 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, ON
M4N 3M5

Phone: 416-480-4866
Fax: 416-480-5753


  • B.Sc., 1996, pure and applied science, York University, Canada
  • PhD, 2002, neuroscience, University of Toronto, Canada
  • MD, 2004, U of T, Canada

Appointments and Affiliations:

  • Clinician-scientist, Evaluative Clinical Sciences, Hurvitz Brain Sciences Research Program, Sunnybrook Research Institute
  • Scientist, Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery
  • Director, Sunnybrook stroke research unit
  • Medical director, North & East GTA Regional Stroke Program
  • Assistant professor, neurology, department of medicine, U of T
  • Director, U of T Stroke Research Network
  • Vice-chair of Research, Canadian Stroke Consortium

Research Focus:

  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Vessel wall imaging
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Stroke in pregnancy
  • Stroke in the young
  • Gerontology and neurodegenerative disorders

Research Summary:

Dr. Rick Swartz's innovative "scanner-to-beside" approach uses technological advances to ask and answer clinical questions that aim to improve the diagnosis and outcome of patients with vascular disease. His area of academic interest is neurovascular imaging in stroke prevention and recovery.

Dr. Swartz is principal investigator of large-scale, multicentre research studies for stroke patients, including a current Heart and Stroke Foundation grant screening more than 1,500 stroke clinic patients for depression, obstructive sleep apnea and cognitive impairment.

Dr. Swartz also serves on the executive, and is the vascular cognitive impairment theme leader, of a $28-million dollar, five-year neurodegeneration research project funded by the Ontario Brain Institute, a multicentre, multidisciplinary, transdisease study.

Dr. Swartz has used high-resolution 3-Tesla magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to assess the walls of intracranial arteries. This approach, systematically visualizing intracranial vessel-wall pathologies using MRI, identified and differentiated intracranial atherosclerotic plaques from inflammation (vasculitis) and arterial dissection by their enhancement patterns. This may identify "plaque-at-risk" and offers the potential to modify the pathophysiology of small vessel infarcts, which represent up to 30% of all cerebrovascular disease. With colleagues in Toronto, Boston and South Carolina, Dr. Swartz is working to promote standardization of these emerging techniques across centres to facilitate multicentre studies of these important diseases.

As a clinician-scientist, and director of the regional stroke program, Dr. Swartz strives to embed research into clinical care. His clinical and research focus is in intracranial vascular diseases affecting the medium and small intracranial vessels. This has led to a focus on some of the most important causes (intracranial atherosclerosis, actually the leading cause of stroke worldwide) and complications (cognitive impairment) of stroke. One in three Canadians will experience stroke, dementia or both in their lifetime. As a corollary to this devastating statistic, Dr. Swartz's clinical and research goals are in sync: to alter this devastating trajectory. His ultimate career goal is to establish a long-term successful, collaborative research program to improve cerebrovascular disease outcomes.

Selected Publications:

See current publications list at PubMed.

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