When connections break down

In Ontario alone, an estimated 285,000 individuals currently live with some form of neurodegenerative disorder. This includes Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, mild cognitive impairment, dementia and movement disorders. 

The experiences and symptoms for each person vary, but they share a progressive decline in their cognitive and motor function. It can affect their ability to work, socialize and live independently. 

As our population ages, there is an urgent need to understand markers that will predict decline and identify targets for therapy that might improve long-term function and outcomes. 

This is where hospital-based research can make a real difference. 

On June 21, 2018, Lawson Health Research Institute hosted Café Scientifique, a community event highlighting the groundbreaking and specialized research on neurodegenerative diseases happening right here in London. 

Moderated by Lawson researcher Dr. Arlene MacDougall, a panel of three expert Lawson scientists shared their unique perspectives as both clinicians and researchers, and how the knowledge we are gaining is being applied to improve health and health care for people here and around the world. 

Watch the video from the event featuring the three talks from our experts. 


Café Talks

Back to the beginning: Targeting early markers for Alzheimer’s Disease

By Dr. Jennie Wells
Time stamp: 5 minutes

Dr. Wells is the Medical Care Coordinator for Geriatric Rehabilitation at St. Joseph's Health Care London's Parkwood Institute, and Chair of the Division of Geriatric Medicine and associate professor in the Department of Medicine at Western Univeristy’s Schulich School of Medicine. Her clinical and research interests are Alzheimer’s Disease and Geriatric Rehabilitation. She has particular interest in Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and the potential for non-drug interventions, such as exercise and nutrition to slow progression of dementia. She is a principal site investigator in randomized controlled trials of new drugs to treat dementia, MCI, and Subjective Cognitive Impairment (SCI).


  • What causes dementia?
  • How early do changes happen in the brain before symptoms even appear?
  • What is the single best diet approach for a healthy body and mind?
  • How does exercise keep your brain healthy? 

Dr. Jennie Wells

Neuroinflammation and dementia: The old and the new 

By Dr. Elizabeth Finger
Time stamp: 24 minutes

Dr. Finger, a neurologist at St. Joseph's Parkwood Institute, received her MD from Cornell University. She completed an internship in Internal Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, followed by residency in Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Her research focuses on understanding the cognitive, neural, and genetic substrates of abnormal decision-making, emotion and social behavior. Using a variety of different diagnostic techniques and modalities, the research program investigates the cognitive and neural systems affected in patients with Frontotemporal Dementia, related disorders and their at-risk family members.


  • Do anti-inflammatory medications reduce the risk of dementia or slow the rate of decline?
  • How do genes related to the immune system increase the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease? 
  • What about the effects from dysfunction of the brain’s own immune system?
  • Do conditions or events causing systematic inflammation (surgery, infection, auto-immune diseases) also increase neuroinflammation which can lead to dementia?

Dr. Elizabeth Finger

New Frontiers in the Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease: Addressing the unmet needs 

By Dr. Mandar Jog
Time stamp: 45 minutes

Dr. Jog is a Lawson researcher, Director of the National Parkinson Foundation Centre of Excellence at LHSC, Director of the Movement Disorders Centre in London and Professor of Neurology at Western University. His research interests include topics such as motor control, neurophysiology and computational modeling, multichannel recording and web-based teaching of movement disorders. Dr. Jog has a passion for clinical and scientific innovation and holds numerous patents that are reaching commercialization with strong collaboration with university technology transfer and industry partners.


  • How do clinician researchers take questions from the bedside and solve them at the bench using technology in order to treat movement disorders?
  • How can wearable technology be used to detect movement disorders and monitor for optimized treatment – remotely from anywhere in the world?
  • How can we use machine-guided sensors for personal diagnostics and therapy for essential tremors and Parkinson’s Disease?
  • How can spinal cord stimulators improve movement and gait for patients, including those previously using wheelchairs and scooters?

Dr. Mandar Jog

Did you miss the event? Add your email address to our Café Scientifique invite list so that you’ll be the first to know when the next event takes place. 

Sign up here. 

Go to Lawson’s Facebook page to see photos from the event.