The CCNA 2021 Trainee Synapse Challenge – Funded Projects

The CCNA 2021 Trainee Synapse Challenge – Funded Projects

On July 21st, 2021 the CCNA Training and Capacity Building Program launched the CCNA Trainee Synapse Challenge calling for CCNA trainees to apply for funding to support innovative trainee-led projects investigating new pathways for better prevention, treatment and quality of life for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Projects needed to demonstrate collaboration across CCNA teams or cross-cutting programs. Six projects from across the CCNA each received major Synapse Challenge funding in the amount of $10,000.

Additional support for these projects was provided by CCNA Cross-Cutting Programs including Knowledge Translation and Exchange (KTE), Engagement of People with Lived Experience of Dementia (EPLED), and Women, Sex, Gender, and Dementia (WSGD). Teams that clearly demonstrated the integration of a cross-cutting component in the design, analysis and knowledge translation of the research plan received an additional $5000. Winning teams will work closely with Cross-Cutting Programs to further develop these areas of concern.

Congratulations to the funded teams:

  • Tailoring research on potentially inappropriate prescribing in persons with dementia using patient and care partner perspectives (Synapse Challenge Funds + EPLED and KTE Cross-Cutting Program Funds)

Trainee applicant, Team 19: Abby Emdin, PhD Student (University of Toronto)

CCNA Supervisor: Dr. Susan Bronskill, Team 19 (University of Toronto)


  • Is grandmother on too many medications? (Synapse Challenge Funds + KTE and WSGD Cross-Cutting Program Funds)

Trainee applicants, Team 14: Shanna Trenaman, Postdoctoral Fellow (Dalhousie University), Jasmine Mah, PhD Student (Dalhousie University)

Trainee applicants, Team 19: Catherine Richer, MSc Student (McGill University), Abby Emdin, PhD Student (University of Toronto)

CCNA Supervisors: Dr. Melissa Andrew, Team 14 (Dalhousie University), Dr. Kenneth Rockwood, Team 14 (Dalhousie University)


  • Cerebral Blood Flow & Dynamic Movement in Mild Cognitive Impairment (Synapse Challenge Funds + KTE Cross-Cutting Program Funds)

Trainee applicants, Team 7: Laura Fitzgibbon-Collins, Postdoctoral Fellow (Western University)

Trainee applicants, Team 12: Geoff Coombs, Postdoctoral Fellow (Western University), Leena Shoemaker, Postdoctoral Fellow (Western University)

CCNA Supervisors: Dr. Jaspreet Bhangu, Team 7 (Western University), Dr. Kevin Shoemaker, Team 12 (Western University)


  • The impact of a virtual intergenerational social program on quality of life and social connectedness in Indigenous older adults during COVID-19 (Synapse Challenge Funds)Trainee applicants, Team 18: Joyla Furlano, Postdoctoral Fellow (McMaster University), Sharlene Webkamigad, PhD Candidate (Laurentian University), Nabina Sharma, PhD Candidate (Laurentian University), Ashley Cornect-Benoit, PhD Candidate (University of Calgary)Trainee applicants, Team 15: Melanie Bayly, Postdoctoral Fellow (University of Saskatchewan)CCNA Supervisor: Dr. Jennifer Walker, Team 18 (McMaster University)


  • An Integrated Approach to Factors Promoting Physical Activity for Cognitive Health (Synapse Challenge Funds + WSGD and KTE Cross-Cutting Program Funds)Trainee applicants, Team 17: Eric Cui, PhD Student (University of Toronto), April Pereira, PhD Student (University of Waterloo), Kishoree Sangarapillai, PhD Student (University of Waterloo)CCNA Supervisors: Dr. Alison Chasteen, Team 17 (University of Toronto), Dr. Laura Middleton, Team 12 (University of Waterloo)


  • Microstructural underpinnings of Mild Behavioral Impairment across age-related neurodegenerative diseases (Synapse Challenge Funds)Trainee applicant, Team 8: Hannes Almgren, Postdoctoral Fellow (University of Calgary)Trainee applicant, Team 11: Maryam Ghahremani, Postdoctoral Fellow (University of Calgary)CCNA Supervisors: Dr. Oury Monchi, Team 8 (University of Calgary), Dr. Zahinoor Ismail, Team 11 (University of Calgary), Dr. Maxime Descoteaux, Team 9 (Université de Sherbrooke)



We would like to thank the Synapse Challenge Review Committee Members:

      • Neil Cashman, Team 3 (University of British Columbia)
      • Brianne Kent, Team 6 (Simon Fraser University)
      • David Hogan, Team 18 Liaison (University of Calgary)
      • Gillian Einstein, Women, Sex, Gender and Dementia Program (University of Toronto)
      • Alexandra Fiocco, Team 5 (Ryerson University)
      • Jennifer Campos, Team 17 (University of Toronto)
      • Nicole Gervais, Team 6 (University of Toronto)