Western will be at the forefront of research and policy relating to the fastest-growing age group in Canada, thanks to the university playing host to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Institute of Aging, now led by an internationally recognized Western neuroscientist.
On Tuesday, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry professor Jane Rylett was named the new Scientific Director of CIHR’s Institute of Aging, one of only 13 institutes nationwide supported by the funding body that funds health researchers and trainees across Canada in various areas.
As Scientific Director, Rylett will identify research priorities, develop funding opportunities, build partnerships and translate research into policy and practice to improve the health of seniors in Canada and around the world.
“While extremely excited about taking on this role, I am also humbled by the challenges that lay ahead,” Rylett said. “The need for building researcher and decision-maker capacity, patient and community engagement, attention to equity, international collaborations, and partnership development has never been higher or the potential impact greater.
“I look forward to working with our broad research community, policy-makers, funders, providers, patients and community members and my CIHR colleagues and their stakeholders to improve health care and the health of Canadians.”
By the year 2026, more than one in five Canadians will be of senior age.
The Institute of Aging invests in research that promotes an optimal life-long approach to healthy aging and improves the health and wellness of Canada’s aging population. By supporting advances in prevention, diagnosis, treatment, care delivery and social determinants of health, the institute seeks to improve the health and quality of life of Canadians in their later years.
Among its priorities, the Institute of Aging spearheads the national Dementia Research Strategy, the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging and the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging.
“This announcement is a testament not only to Jane Rylett’s leadership, but to London’s excellence in health-related research across the lifespan,” Western President Amit Chakma said.
An internationally recognized neuroscientist and expert in Alzheimer research, Rylett has witnessed first-hand the enormous impact neurodegenerative diseases have on patients and their loved ones.
She is a scientist in the Molecular Medicine Research Laboratories at Robarts Research Institute and was Chair of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology.
Research in her laboratory focuses on mechanisms regulating chemical communication in the nervous system in health, normal aging and disease. Much of the work involves studies of the function of cholinergic neurons. She has been funded by several agencies, including CIHR, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and the Alzheimer Societies of both Canada and the United States.
She played a key role in the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA) as an Associate Director and a lead for the prevention research team. She is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.