Other : Summer Program in Aging

How to Apply: 

The Summer Program in Aging (SPA) is the Institute of Aging’s (IA) flagship training program. It aims to provide graduate students and postdoctoral fellows involved in aging research with a program of advanced training that crosses disciplines, sectors, institutions, and geography. The program will bring together approximately 40 research trainees and numerous academic mentors to participate in interactive learning sessions. The focus topic for SPA 2022 is Neurodegenerative and Cerebrovascular Diseases and will be led by Dr. David Hogan, academic lead of the University of Calgary Brenda Strafford Centre on Aging.

A commonality of neurodegenerative and cerebrovascular diseases is that aging is their greatest risk factor. The SPA 2022 curriculum will focus on major neurocognitive disorders (dementias) due to neurodegeneration (progressive loss of the structure or function of neurons and/or glial cells in specific regions or functional systems of the brain and/or spinal cord) and/or cerebrovascular diseases. The objectives of the program will include exploring underlying mechanisms of these diseases and approaches to prevention, management across the continuum of severity, addressing stigma and the role of caregivers, and developing and practicing the skills required to achieve success in team-based graduate science training. The 2022 SPA will also include meaningful involvement of, and interaction with, people with lived experiences of neurodegeneration and cerebrovascular diseases, including those who are providing informal and formal care to these individuals.

Participants will have an opportunity to:

  1. Explore neurodegeneration and cerebrovascular diseases in aging from multiple disciplinary perspectives, including those of people with lived experiences (both people with these conditions, and formal and informal care partners);
  2. Explore a range of methodological approaches to researching neurodegeneration and its interplay with aging and vascular status from the cellular to the population and system level;
  3. Understand national and international priorities in preventing and managing neurodegeneration and cerebrovascular diseases associated with aging, and identify current strengths and gaps in relation to the priorities of an aging population and the global context;
  4. Become familiar with existing policies and practices that shape ways that neurodegeneration and cerebrovascular diseases are managed in both community and healthcare settings;
  5. Learn how to incorporate multidisciplinary approaches and perspectives, as well as priorities of people with lived experience, in developing relevant research questions to guide the study of neurodegeneration and cerebrovascular diseases in aging;
  6. Understand the array of resources and organizations that can promote opportunities to create inclusive research programs with meaningful involvement of people with lived experiences;
  7. Compare and contrast understandings and approaches to preventing and managing neurodegeneration and cerebrovascular diseases across different geographic regions, within underserved or disadvantaged sub-populations, and even across species;
  8. Virtually interact with leading researchers, academic mentors, and colleagues in the field of neurodegeneration and cerebrovascular diseases in aging from across the country and abroad;
  9. Develop skills in mobilizing evidence of neurodegeneration and cerebrovascular diseases as it relates to the aging population for various audiences (general public, media, health professionals, policymakers, decision-makers, and industry);
  10. Develop skills in grant writing and peer review;
  11. Acquire strategies for effectively communicating research findings to the public using traditional and digitally enhanced forms of communication (e.g., graphic novel–style illustrations, podcasts, YouTube© videos, digital stories, etc.);
  12. Gain an understanding of the studies and initiatives linked to the Institute of Aging’s major initiatives: the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) and the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA) – the National Component of the CIHR Dementia Research Strategy;
  13. Enhance an understanding of the ethical and social issues surrounding research involving people with lived experiences of neurodegeneration and cerebrovascular diseases;
  14. Build a professional interdisciplinary network of researchers and people with lived experiences interested in knowledge generation activities relating to neurodegeneration and cerebrovascular diseases in aging;
  15. Acquire training and career-building skills relevant to cross-disciplinary, multi-method research initiatives that represent both the latest scientific developments, as well as the voices and priorities of people with lived experiences of neurodegeneration and cerebrovascular diseases.

SPA 2022 will be held virtually from May 9–20, 2022. The formal program is expected to take place over two weeks, with additional time allotted for social activities with other SPA 2022 participants. Participants are required to attend every session, with some sessions occurring in the evening and/or early morning. A timetable will be provided prior to the training program.

Over the course of SPA 2022, trainees will have the opportunity to engage in learning sessions, experiences, and activities built around the core thematic area of neurodegeneration and cerebrovascular diseases in aging. They will explore fundamental topics such as research and professional skill building, grant writing, communication, incorporating the perspective of those with lived experiences, and knowledge translation. To further the interdisciplinary experience, trainees will have access to networking and mentoring opportunities that will be offered throughout the week, including access to a pair of core mentors representing different disciplinary approaches, who will be available throughout the program.

Note: All trainees interested in attending SPA 2022 MUST apply through this Funding Opportunity. Selection to the program will take place through this competition.

External Deadline: 
Wednesday, January 26, 2022
Funding Source: 
Funding Level: