Sarah Best, research manager at Lawson Health Research Institute, was a recipient of this year’s Staff Award of Excellence, presented at the 2018 Lawson Impact Awards. The award was created to honour the contributions of dynamic, hardworking staff members who help advance science at Lawson.
Best is a part of the Cognitive Clinical Research Group at St. Joseph’s Heath Care London’s Parkwood Institute. In addition to managing the research group’s staff and trainees, she has a wide range of responsibilities, including developing strategies for recruitment and retention of clinical trial participants, budgeting, assisting with grant applications, and ensuring the team has the appropriate space, hardware and training to complete their research.
“Sarah has grown a team of skilled, well-trained staff and her leadership has ultimately resulted in an increase in the volume and complexity of trials we can offer for patients with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr. Michael Borrie, Lawson researcher and medical director of the Cognitive Clinical Research Group.
Best is also the budget officer for the Consortium of Canadian Centres for Clinical Cognitive Research and a member of the platform implementation team for the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration and Aging (CCNA). The CCNA was formed by more than 350 clinicians and researchers throughout Canada to accelerate progress in age-related neurodegenerative disease research.
The Comprehensive Assessment of Neurodegeneration and Dementia (COMPASS-ND) Study is a CCNA study collecting clinical, neuropsychological, and MRI imaging data as well as blood, saliva, and urine samples from participants to learn about who is at risk of developing dementia, to determine how early dementia can be detected and to find out what tests are most effective at detecting dementia. Best has helped facilitate the study start-up and patient recruitment for the more than 30 sites involved in COMPASS-ND, including Parkwood Institute.
“Working in the field of neurodegeneration is really important right now as we see the numbers of individuals that have cognitive impairment growing exponentially. Currently, we only have symptomatic treatments so we’re really looking to find that breakthrough that will lead to a disease-modifying treatment to better serve patients and actually change the course of their disease,” says Best.
She adds, “I’m really honoured to receive this award, especially knowing the previous recipients and the impact that they’ve had on the London research community.”