Aging, Cognition, and Alzheimer’s Disease

Leader: Pedro Rosa Neto, MD, PhD

More than ten internationally acclaimed research teams from various academic institutions in Europe (U. of Gotheburg, Pasteur Institute, Karolinska Institute, U. of Amsterdam), the USA (Mayo Clinic, U. of Wisconsin, U. Washington, U. of Michigan) and the greater Montreal area (the Montreal Neurological Institute, the Centre de recherche de l’Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal, McGill’s Pharmacology department, the McGill Centre for Studies in Aging) actively participate in the activities of the Aging, Cognition and Alzheimer research program as well as those of the Centre for Studies in the Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease at the Douglas. It brings together proven and diversified expertise in the areas of neuroscience, neurology, psychiatry and geriatric medicine. Using imaging technologies (MRI, PET), the Douglas/Bell Brain Bank, genomic (GWAS, RNAseq) and proteomics tools (McGill Genome Centre) as well as cutting edge biomarkers detection (Luminex, SIMOA, ELISA, LC/MS/MS), animal modelling, cognitive and sensory assessments, the Aging, Cognition and Alzheimer’s disease team has built an internationally recognized multidisciplinary research program on the neurobiology of healthy and unhealthy aging with a focus on cognition and Alzheimer’s disease etiology and treatments. The multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary scientists of the Aging, Cognition and Alzheimer’s disease team have obtained significant joint funding from CIHR and the FRSQ and, have published multiple joint publications in top tier journals like (Nat. Comm, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, JAMA Psychiatr. Alz. and Dement, Mol. Psychiatr., Neurology ...). Recently, Douglas scientists from the Centre for Studies on the Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, the Aging, Cognition and Alzheimer’s disease group (Villeneuve, Poirier, Chakravarty, Rosa-Neto, Gauthier, Rajah, Breitner) and from the MNI (Evans, Collins, Spreng) joined forces to create the first available dataset (cohort) to be offered by the new McGill-based Canadian Open Neuroscience Platform (CONP)); allowing the Aging, Cognition and Alzheimer’s disease team to position itself at the far front of the national Open Science Initiative.

Research Program

The study of age-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease has become multidisciplinary in nature and requires cutting edge technology to map the silent and visible portions of the disease. Even pharmaceutical interventions (in prevention or in treatment) now require biomarker monitoring, genetic stratification and strong multi- model imaging techniques that go beyond simple hippocampal volume assessments. We are working with the McGill Genome Centre on novel proteomic technologies that allow the simultaneous monitoring of > 95 proteins in blood and cerebrospinal fluid from experimental subjects. In collaboration with biomarker experts in Europe, we are also tackling alternative biomarker assays for Alzheimer-related pathology in the blood as a viable and cost-effective alternative to the costly PET imaging or, painful lumbar puncture for CSF sampling. On the therapeutic front, we have several targets in mind (depending on funding outcomes), most of which involve manipulations of lifestyle associated protective factors such as exercise, pharmacological control of cholesterol levels and systolic blood pressure as well as diabetes. We have new programs being implemented and which are funded for the next 3 to 5 years that involve service dog interventions (in partnership with MIRA), vascular risk monitoring, transcranial stimulation in cognitively impaired subjects and, providing access to our PREVENT-AD massive dataset via the Canadian Neuroscience Open Platform.

Primary researchers

Véronique Bohbot, PhD Véronique Bohbot

Human spatial memory, navigation and neural plasticity

Mark Brandon

Neuronal circuits of memory

John Breitner John Breitner

Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease

Mahsa Dadar

Aging, Cerebrovascular, and Neurodegenerative Disorders

Simon Ducharme

FTD & Neuropsychiatry Lab

Serge Gauthier, MD Serge Gauthier

Alzheimer's disease research

Vasavan Nair, MD Vasavan Nair

Prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease

Judes Poirier Judes Poirier

Alzheimer's disease genetics research

Maria Natasha Rajah

Cognitive neuroscience of memory, aging and dementia prevention

Pedro Rosa-Neto Pedro Rosa-Neto

Translational Neuroimaging Laboratory (TNL)

Sylvia Villeneuve, PhD Sylvia Villeneuve

Multimodal imaging of the aging brain

Sylvain Williams, PhD Sylvain Williams

Williams Hippocampal Rhythm Lab

Yashar Zeighami

Brain Aging in Health and Disease

Associated researchers

Mallar Chakravarty, PhD Mallar Chakravarty

Computational brain anatomy

J. Bruno Debruille, MD, PhD J. Bruno Debruille

Cognitive and social neuroscience



Dr. Natasha Rajah is a researcher at the Douglas Research Centre and a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University. She also holds a Research Chair in Sex & Gender from CIHR’s Institute of Mental Health and Addiction. She leads the Cognitive neuroscience of memory, aging and dementia prevention lab, which addresses memory capacity in elderly people and prevention of dementia. She and one of her PhD students, Jamie Snytte, answered some questions about their most recent study.


McGill's 5th Clinical Innovation Competition, or CLICL, for short, was held virtually on May 10, 2022. This annual competition was created in 2018 to inspire members of McGill's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences to conceive and develop promising ideas that will have a direct and positive impact on Canadian or global health care.

Of the five prizes awarded, the First Marika Zelenka Roy Innovation Prize recognizes the best solution to an unmet clinical need for the care of a patient and the highest likelihood of success in being translated. This year, AFX Medical, a company co-founded by Dr. Simon Ducharme, secured this award for the pursuit of their projects aiming to leverage artificial intelligence for the development of products that improve clinical care in brain disorders.


Congratulations Dr. Ducharme!



We are pleased to announce that Dr. Tak Pan Wong has been awarded a Proof-of-concept grant by The Alzheimer's Society for his project, Role of cannabidiol in ameliorating neuronal hyperactivity: A cellular change during the prodromal phase of Alzheimer’s disease, under the Discovery funding priority.

The Alzheimer Society Research Program is a collaborative initiative that mobilizes provincial Alzheimer Societies, the Alzheimer Society of Canada, partners, and donors to support research directed at both eradicating dementia and ameliorating the lives of those affected by it.


Research by Drs. Serge Gautheri and Pedro Rosa-Neto featured in Health e-News.



Congratulations to James Carmichael, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Sylvain Williams' lab, on being awarded the Alzheimer’s Association Research Fellowship, for his project entitled "From Space to Memory Under Pathological Tau." This is one of five research projects funded by the Alzheimer’s Association and Brain Canada to develop preliminary data and apply knowledge to the fields of Alzheimer’s and all dementias. These five Canadian-led teams are advancing our understanding of Alzheimer's disease, helping to identify new treatment strategies, providing information to improve care for people with dementia, and furthering our knowledge of brain health and disease prevention through the Alzheimer’s Association International Research Grant Program.


Dr. Mark Brandon's article cited in Metro.


Dr. Serge Gauthier cited in McGill Tribune.


Dr. Simon Ducharme's research on presicion psychiatry cited in La Presse.


A new approach to assess the early development and future therapies for the disease


A brand-new study, published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications, suggests that evaluating spatial memory and assessing the function of specific neurons called grid cells could be a new avenue for better monitoring the progression of Alzheimer's disease at the start of its development.