Campus Alberta Neuroscience 2016 International Conference

Promoting Healthy Brain Aging and Preventing Dementia: Research and Translation, the first international conference hosted by Campus Alberta Neuroscience and the Alberta Healthy Brain Aging and Dementia research community, was held May 24-27th 2016. Over 150 attendees, including researchers, physicians, policymakers, trainees and members of the community, from Alberta, Canada and around the world, convened in Banff, AB to join in the conversation on the latest in healthy brain aging and dementia research. New connections and information exchange were facilitated through keynote addresses by prominent national and international researchers, speaker and poster sessions, networking opportunities, and a panel discussion. Overall, the success of the conference is seen in the positive feedback from attendees with 94% rating the conference as very good or excellent and indicating they would attend another event like this.

The conference offered a broad range of topics, including brain and cognitive resilience in aging, vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia, exercise and cognitive interventions, and applied research in dementia. This scope brought together people of different fields and backgrounds, allowing for cross-disciplinary connections and innovative conversations. Martin Prince opened the conference with an informative and hopeful keynote address on the importance of promoting brain health and preventing dementia. As Dr. Prince noted, with increasing prevalence across the globe the impacts of dementia will only continue to rise; however, there are many ways to lower the risk including early life education and mitigating health issues such as hypertension, diabetes and smoking. More research is needed to determine the influences of depression, obesity, physical activity, hyperlipidemia, alcohol and dietary factors on the development of dementia and the potential of moderating these factors to improve brain health. Other talks highlighted the importance of public health and policy, biomarkers and early diagnosis, genetics and lifestyle, a healthy cardiovascular system and environmental features in the development, treatment and prevention of mild cognitive impairment and dementia. The conference was closed with a panel discussion that touched on the broad subject matter of the previous sessions and the crucial next steps for healthy brain aging and dementia research.

Several new, promising developments resulted from the symposium. CAN will continue to work with the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and the Northwest Territories to develop connections between researchers and those with lived experience of dementia and their caregivers. Both the Alzheimer Society of Calgary and the Alberta Prion Research Institute have committed funding to Alberta research on dementia. The Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration and Aging used this event to strengthen connections with Alberta researchers and the Healthy Brain Aging and Dementia group. Alberta Health and the Senior’s Health Strategic Clinical Network will use insights from this event to shape policy in Alberta while the Ontario Brain Institute will develop policy and practices to use physical activity for protecting the brain and promoting healthy brain aging. These significant developments were made possible by the quality of the research and translation discourse, the strong networking and the engaged participation of researchers, community members, industry and government.

Scientific Program Committee

Roger Dixon, University of Alberta
Jayna Holroyd-Leduc, University of Calgary
Marc Poulin, University of Calgary
Eric Smith, University of Calgary
Robert Sutherland, University of Lethbridge
David Westaway, University of Alberta