New Partnership Aims to Connect Researchers to Patients with Dementia

Feb 20, 2019

There is a national public health challenge caused by the rising tide of dementia. Currently, there are an estimated 564,000 Canadians living with dementia – this figure is expected to rise to 937,000 by 2031. As care for dementia patients is increasingly being managed by the primary care community, the Toronto Dementia Research Alliance (TDRA) has partnered with the University of Toronto Practice-Based Research Network (UTOPIAN) to connect researchers to family physicians and their dementia patients in a manner that was never before possible.

“Links to family physicians are essential to help patients access clinical trials,” said Dr. Sandra Black, Executive Director of the TDRA and internationally renowned cognitive and stroke neurologist. “These trials are key to discovering new treatments and improving care.”

The first collaboration of its kind to support clinical trials in Toronto, the TDRA and UTOPIAN will embed research into care by using data in the UTOPIAN - a secure database of anonymous patient records - to find potential study participants for the SARTAN-AD Study. This study, led by Dr. Black, compares the ability of two approved medications for high blood pressure – Telmisartan and Perindopril –to slow down the progression of Alzheimer's disease over a one year period in Alzheimer’s patients with high blood pressure.

High blood pressure can cause damage in small blood vessels in the brain, affecting areas of the brain responsible for thinking and memory. For decades now, researchers have known about the connection between Alzheimer’s and blood vessel disease.

“This exciting partnership utilizes our network of nearly 600,000 patients in 140 primary care practices within the Greater Toronto Area to help answer important healthcare questions and translate findings into practice,” said Dr. Michelle Greiver, Director of UTOPIAN, housed in the University of Toronto Department of Family and Community Medicine. The results of the study could lead to the development of breakthrough treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. “We are very thankful to the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation and the Weston Brain Institute for their support in funding this important work,” said Dr. Black.   

TDRA is a University of Toronto collaboration, working with five hospitals with cognitive and behavioural neurology clinics – Baycrest Health Sciences, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, St. Michael’s Hospital, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, and the University Health Network – to tackle one of the greatest health and social challenges of our time: the dementia challenge. Through innovative and collaborative research, TDRA aims to better understand, prevent and treat dementia across the ages and stages. Engaging UTOPIAN’s vast network of 1400 family physicians and their patients supports a joint objective of facilitating knowledge translation within the primary care community and patient population.

For more information on TDRA contact:

Tess Lin

Communications Strategist


For more information on UTOPIAN contact:

Ivanka Pribramska

Research Administrator

416-756-6000, ext. 4531