McGill University Research Centre for Studies in Aging
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The McGill University Research Centre for Studies in Aging (MCSA) has developed a strong expertise in the field of brain aging. It is recognized as one of the world's leading research centres in the fields of memory, cognition and forms of dementias such as Alzheimer's disease and other age-related disorders.

Key features of the MCSA include:

  • Research clinics in memory and cognitive dysfunction, Alzheimer's disease, and in normal aging
  • Research programmes in genetics, endocrinology, pharmacology, molecular biology, neurochemistry, neuropathology and behavioural psychology (


Knowledge transfer activities:

· Annual member and donor meeting (typically in June of each year, 2010: June 22nd and 23rd; 2011: June 21st lunch and afternoon meeting; approx. 50 attendees per meeting). At these events, the Centre’s scientists review accomplishments in research findings and discoveries of the past year, and explain new clinical trials and their therapeutic promises.

· Public Lecture Series "BRAINY BOOMERS". In 2007, the MCSA Education Committee established the "Brainy Boomers Lecture Series" to support its objectives, raise awareness and educate the community at large. Since then we have presented 150 lectures in total at various locations in the Montreal area. The public lecture series are given by academic professionals and medical specialists. The goal of the series is to suggest and initiate practical steps to improve brain health, to prevent age-related disorders, as well as to promote healthy lifestyle choices amongst the most populous generation in history. The public lecture series continues to be one of the highlights of our Centre's activities.

· Scientific symposium as a satellite to the Cognitive Neuroscience Conference at the Hilton Bonaventure in Montreal ( Over the course of one day, we hosted eleven speakers (among those C Cuello, J Breitner, J Poirier, J Doyon, S Gauthier and T Montine) who presented recent findings on their respective research area in the context of aging and dementia research to an audience of around 200 scientists and student trainees.

· A one-day symposium for the lay public on October 1st, 2010 ( Hosting speakers from the Centre, from McGill University as well as from the Douglas Institute, and co-organized with the Memory Clinic of the Douglas Institute, we updated on the latest findings regarding a healthy lifestyle supporting healthy and successful aging. This event took place on the grounds of the Douglas Hospital and hosted over 200 participants from Montreal.

Research Training Activities

- MCSA journal club with speakers from McGill or other Montreal universities’ faculties, held bimonthly; students and residents from members and colleagues are invited, typical attendance of 30 subjects.

- MCSA student reception during the summer months on the grounds of the MCSA (‘five to seven’), held weekly during the summer months: A place to meet fellow students and residents from other departments, labs and backgrounds to discuss common interests and explore areas for collaboration, at the student level; typical attendance 20 subjects.

- Ongoing student training on clinical, endocrine and neuroimaging methods in the laboratories of MCSA staff for the 20+ graduate students from MCSA core researchers

- MCSA student travel stipends for students of MCSA members to visit conferences relevant to aging and dementia (5 stipends up to $750 each per year)

Research Activities:

In addition to the individual research activities of the scientists of the centre, we launched a common research activity of the Centre in 2010: The Program for the Prevention Of Neurodegenerative Disease in Everybody at Risk (PONDER; This cognitive testing and training initiative recruits adult subjects (40 to 90 years of age) from the local community and assesses their cognitive abilities over time in areas that have been identified as showing the earliest changes in neurodegenerative disease (e.g., digit-span, trail-making, word-list). At the same time, it allows participants to engage in cognitive training in areas that have been shown to be sensitive for enhancement through training, i.e. memory, processing speed, and attention. The Program was launched in April, 2010, for a beta-testing phase, and has without active recruitment and advertisement already attracted more than 100 participants


The clinical research programme of the MCSA was established to examine and determine the clinical characteristics of normal and abnormal aging in human subjects.

· The HEALTHY AGING research programme that focuses on the characterization of psychological and biological markers associated with normal healthy aging.

· The UNHEALTHY AGING research program that focuses on diseases of the elderly that affects primarily the brain and the nervous system.

The HEALTHY AGING research programme based at the Douglas Hospital was put in place several years ago under the leadership of Dr. N.P.V. Nair who, in collaboration with the World Health Organization, established a monitoring research programme that invited healthy elderly volunteers to visit the clinic twice yearly for a complete physical, neuropsychological and biochemical check-up. More than 400 volunteers were enrolled in this long term study of healthy aging and several discoveries were made on the physiological consequences of age-related deterioration of the endocrine system. In addition to Dr. N.P.V. Nair, Drs. S. Lupien, M. Meaney, D. Dastoor and M. D. Schwartz have all played crucial roles in the development of this research programme.

High Impact Publications:

Lupien S. J., de Léon M., de Santi S., Convit A., Tarshish C., Nair N. P., Thakur M., McEwen B. S., Hauger R. L., and Meaney M. J. (1998) Cortisol levels during human aging predict hippocampalatrophy and memory deficits [see comments] [published erratum appears in Nat Neurosci 1998 Aug;1(4):329]. Nat Neurosci 1, 69-73.

The UNHEALTHY AGING research programme basically encompasses two distinct clinical units:

1a: The Alzheimer Disease Research Unit based at the McGill Centre for Studies in Aging
· Dr. Serge Gauthier, Director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Unit; Mrs. Margaret de Chazal, Clinical Research Manager/Coordinator; Mrs. Jeanie Hall, Research Nurse; Dr. Pedro Rosa-Neto, Neurologist; Dr. Marie-Chantal Menard MD, General Practitioner;

1b: The Memory Clinic
· Dr. Serge Gautheir , Neurologist; Dr. Pedro Rosa-Neto, Neurologist;

The memory clinic is part of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Unit located at the McGill Center for Studies in Aging

2: Translational Neuroimaging Unit
· Dr. Pedro Rosa-Neto , Neurologist;
For more information please refer to:

Relevant Publications:

  • Reisberg B, Jamil IA, Khan S, Monteiro I, Torossian C, Ferris S, Sabbagh M, Gauthier S, Auer S, Shulman MB, Kluger A, Frannsen E, Weigel J. Staging dementia. In “Principles and practice of geriatric psychiatry”, 3rd Ed. Abou-Saleh M, Katona C, Kumar A Eds. Wiley-Blackwell Publications, Chichester, England, 162-169, 2010.

  • Massoud F, Desmarais JE, Gauthier S. Switching cholinesterase inhibitors in older adults with dementia. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 23, 372-378, 2011.

  • Belleville S, Clément F, Mellah S, Gilbert B, Fontaine F, Gauthier S. Training-related brain plasticity in subjects at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Brain, 134, 1623-1634, 2011.

  • Ballard C, Gauthier S, Corbett A, Brayne C, Aarsland D, Jones E. Alzheimer’s Disease. The Lancet, 377, 1019-1031, 2011.

  • Gauthier S, Patterson C, Gordon M, Soucy JP, Schubert F, Leuzy A. Commentary on the NINCDS-AA revised criteria for Alzheimer Disease: a Canadian perspective. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 7, 330-332, 2011.

  • Wu L, Rosa-Neto P, Gauthier S. Use of biomarkers in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease: from concept to application. Molecular Diagnosis & Therapy, in press.

  • Dubois B, Feldman H, Jacova C, Cummings J, DeKosky S, Barberger-Gateau P, Delacourte A, Frisoni G, Fox NC, Galasko D, Gauthier S, Hampel H, Jicha GA, Meguro K, O’Brien J, Pasquier F, Robert P, Rossor M, Salloway S, Sarazin M, de Souza LC, Stern Y, Visser PJ, Scheltens P. Revising the definition of Alzheimer’s disease: a new lexicon. Lancet Neurology 9, 1118-1127, 2010.