Episode 1 – What is it going to take to cure Alzheimer's?

Release Date: March 22, 2022 |  Run Time: 25:18 |  Download the transcript

With the controversial approval of Alzheimer's drug, Aducanumab, in the United States, we speak with neurologist and medicinal chemist, Dr. Donald Weaver, to break down the science, sift through the hype, and help us understand why it's so difficult to diagnose and treat a disease that affects more than 55 million people worldwide. As the co-Director of Krembil Brain Institute and with 30 years of experience as both a doctor and a scientist, Dr. Weaver is not convinced this new drug is the answer. But he says progress is being made and there's plenty of reason for hope.

Plus, we go on an inspiring journey with Patty Kim, who is caring for her mother with Alzheimer's, and there are tangible tips on how to reduce your chances of getting Alzheimer's or dementia.

Listen now to the full episode on Apple Podcasts or on the player below.

Featuring Dr. Weaver, Neurologist, Medicinal Chemist, and co-Director, Krembil Brain Institute. Special thanks to Patty Kim for sharing her story.

Dr. Donald Weaver

Dr. Donald Weaver is a neurologist, a medicinal chemist and co-Director of Krembil Brain Institute at UHN. He is an internationally recognized research leader in drug design and discovery for neurological disorders, and a sought after speaker and thought leader in the area of Alzheimer's and dementia. He has designed and co-developed two drugs that have reached Phase III human trials and has four others in preclinical development; one of these drugs (tramiprosate) was one of the first "disease-modifying" drugs in the world to reach Phase III clinical trials for Alzheimer's dementia. Dr. Weaver has won numerous awards including the Prix Galien Canada (2009), Jonas Salk Canada Award (2011), the S. Weir Mitchell Award (American Academy of Neurology, 1991) and the Harrington Scholar-Innovator Award (2020).

Patty Kim

Patty Kim is a full-time working mom, who, along with her siblings, is caring for her mother living with Alzheimer's.

Bonus Content: To hear more from Patty, listen to her full story:

Run Time: 05:32 |  Download the transcript

Episode 2 – The rise of stroke in young adults

Release Date: April 5, 2022 |  Run Time: 32:23 |  Download the transcript

The medical after-effects of a stroke can be mild or severe. But for young stroke patients, the consequences of returning to their lives after a stroke, can be just as devastating. In fact, only half of stroke survivors under the age of 65 ever return to work – and far more cope with depression, anxiety, and extreme fatigue.

On the latest episode of Your Complex Brain, host Heather Sherman meets with Dr. Aleksandra Pikula, a pioneer in the field of stroke in young adults. They discuss the latest research, including a new study led by Dr. Pikula, looking at how lifestyle interventions post-stroke may help to improve long-term outcomes. Plus, we hear from two of Dr. Pikula's patients to gain a deeper perspective on how they are reclaiming their lives, and we'll speak with a Nurse Practitioner about what it's like when a 'Code Stroke' is called and the team jumps into action.

"We can say that roughly 50% of young stroke survivors will not return to work and about 25% will require modifications in their workplace. It's even more dramatic that about 80% will have some sort of psychosocial complaints in the form of depression, anxiety, fatigue, 50-70% will have sleep disturbances and 30-40% will have some cognitive dysfunction. So, we're really talking about a lot of invisible disabilities that people don't often think when talking about stroke." - Dr. Aleksandra Pikula

Listen now to the full episode on Apple Podcasts or on the player below.

Featuring Dr. Aleksandra Pikula, Neurologist, Clinician Investigator and Director of Stroke Research with Krembil Brain Institute at UHN. Special thanks to La Croix Calloo, Marianne Fedunkiw and Tim Stewart for sharing their stories.

Dr. Aleksandra Pikula

Dr. Aleksandra Pikula is a neurologist and a clinician investigator with Krembil Brain Institute at UHN. Dr. Pikula completed medical school and her Internal Medicine residency at the University of Belgrade, then continued her training in Boston, pursuing a sub-specialty in stroke neurology at Boston University, Harvard University and at the world-renowned Framingham Heart Study. Dr. Pikula is the Director of Stroke Research at UHN, an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto (U of T) and co-Director of the Women's Neurology Fellowship at U of T. She is also the founder and Director of the largest Stroke in Young Adults (SiYA) Program in Canada.

La Croix Calloo

La Croix Calloo is currently an English and Visual Arts teacher with the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board. She was 22 years-old when she had a stroke, which caused a rift in her educational career. La Croix is happy and eager to share her life and experiences with Krembil Brain Institute, and to be an advocate for diversity in mental health and healthcare.

Marianne P. Fedunkiw

Marianne P. Fedunkiw is a Toronto-based writer, historian and journalist who has worked for Discovery Channel and The Globe and Mail. Having earned a PhD in medical history, she completed a fellowship at The University of Oxford. The author of three books, Marianne's current projects include: a novel set in the 1930s and 1940s about an immigrant Ukrainian Canadian family, and a play centred on four patients who are dealing with the challenges of life, after a stroke.

Tim Stewart

Tim Stewart has been a Nurse Practitioner with the stroke team at Krembil Brain Institute since 2013, having worked in the emergency department prior to that. When he is not working, Tim loves travelling, making furniture and hanging out with his dog, Gracie.

Bonus Content: To hear more from La Croix and Marianne, listen to their full stories:

La Croix Calloo | Run Time: 05:35 |  Download the transcript

Marianne P. Fedunkiw | Run Time: 06:23 |  Download the transcript

Episode 3 – Can listening to Mozart help stop seizures in epilepsy patients?

Release Date: April 19, 2022 |  Run Time: 30:58 |  Download the transcript

Mozart was just 25 years old when he composed his Sonata for Two Pianos in D major. Now, hundreds of years later, his enchanting melody is offering hope to those living with epilepsy, a brain disease often characterized by debilitating seizures.

On this episode of Your Complex Brain, Heather speaks with Dr. Marjan Rafiee and Dr. Taufik Valiante to discuss the latest research around the therapeutic role that music may play in neurological disorders such as epilepsy, a mystery which is still not fully understood.

"I'm hoping to get a better understanding about, what are the important features in a musical piece that could have such an effect in individuals with epilepsy," said Dr. Rafiee. "Ultimately, one day, the dream is to be able to create our own musical pieces using a machine learning algorithm, for individuals with epilepsy, to reduce their seizures."

As we learn during the conversation, even these leading researchers were surprised by the results they uncovered.

"From a scientific point of view, it was a little bit hard to imagine that we would actually ultimately see the kinds of effects that we did, and I think that's really where the pleasant surprise came," said Dr. Taufik Valiante.

Plus, we hear directly from a patient who took part in the Mozart and Epilepsy study.

Listen to the full episode and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and everywhere else you get your podcasts.

Special thanks to Scott Dainty for sharing his story.

Dr. Marjan Rafiee

Dr. Marjan Rafiee is a postdoctoral fellow in the Neuron to Brain Laboratory at Krembil Brain Institute, and leads the Music and Epilepsy Research Project. Dr. Rafiee began her career in engineering, but decided to change her research field to the exciting world of neurobiology and neuroscience.

Dr. Taufik Valiante

Dr. Taufik Valiante is a neurosurgeon, senior scientist, Director of the Surgical Epilepsy Program at Krembil Brain Institute and Co-Director of the Center for Advancing Neurotechnological Innovation to Application (CRANIA). Check out Dr. Valiante's band on Twitter! @draggedbyafish

Scott Dainty

Scott Dainty is a Naturopathic Doctor, and an avid sports enthusiast and musician. Scott was one of the original participants in the Music and Epilepsy research project.

Bonus Content: To hear more from Scott, listen to his full story:

Scott Dainty | Run Time: 06:05 |  Download the transcript

Episode 4 – The quest to solve the concussion problem

Release Date: May 3, 2022 |  Run Time: 41:57 |  Download the transcript

Rowan Stringer was a 17 year-old rugby player who sustained several concussions over a series of matches, before passing away in 2013. Her family, and others like them, are fighting hard to make sure something like this never happens again, through education and advocacy. But there is currently no method for accurately diagnosing a concussion or predicting the length of recovery. And there are no effective treatments.

On the latest episode of Your Complex Brain, host Heather Sherman speaks with Dr. Carmela Tartaglia to discuss the latest research on the link between multiple concussions and neurodegeneration, or progressive loss of brain function – a symptom that's consistent with diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

"In concussion, at least in my clinic, we are really trying to move towards precision medicine and personalized medicine, because you and I will not experience a brain injury in the same way," says Dr. Tartaglia. "We'll have different symptoms that we have to deal with, we have different contexts. So, we try to move towards individualized treatment."

We also hear from Anna Vasileuskaya, a 5th year PhD student in Dr. Tartaglia's lab at Krembil Brain Institute, about her research looking at new ways to diagnose CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), a progressive and often fatal brain disease.

Listen to the full episode and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and everywhere else you get your podcasts.

Featuring Dr. Carmela Tartaglia is a cognitive neurologist and Clinician Investigator at Krembil Brain Institute. She also co-leads the UHN Memory Clinic. Special thanks to Anna Vasileuskaya, for sharing her story.

Dr. Carmela Tartaglia

Dr. Carmela Tartaglia is a Clinician Scientist at Krembil Brain Institute, part of University Health Network (UHN), and The University of Toronto. She maintains a cognitive/behavioural clinic within the UHN Memory Clinic, where she sees patients with neurodegenerative diseases and persisting symptoms of concussion. As well, she is interested in the delayed effects of concussions. She holds the Marion and Gerald Soloway Chair in Brain Injury and Concussion Research and is one of the principle investigators at the Canadian Concussion Centre. The goal of her research program is to develop biomarkers for early detection of disease, so as to bring precision medicine and targeted, early treatments to her patients.

Anna Vasileuskaya

Anna Vasileuskaya is a 5th year PhD student in Dr. Carmela Tartaglia's lab at Krembil Brain Institute. Her research focuses on neuroimaging and fluid biomarkers of neurodegenerative illnesses – specifically Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy and frontotemporal lobar degeneration.