York U researchers receive CIHR funding to study dementia care

Nurse consoling her elderly patient by holding her hands

Professors Matthias Hoben, Tamara Daly and Liane Ginsburg from the York University Centre for Aging Research & Education (YU-CARE) have been awarded $750,000 from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Aging (CIHR-IA) to support their study examining the impact of day programs on individuals living with dementia and their caregivers.

This funding opportunity, made possible through the CIHR-IA’s Brain Health and Cognitive Impairment in Aging: Implementation Science Team Grants, is supporting 10 projects that plan to evaluate the effectiveness of existing programs, services and models of care for those impacted by cognitive impairment and dementia, and to improve access to care and support.

According to the York U research team, most individuals with dementia and their caregivers want the person in need of care to remain at home for as long as possible; however, doing so safely and well may become challenging as the affected person’s needs increase. Adult day programs aim to maintain or improve older adults’ health and well-being, while also providing respite to caregivers.

The researchers are setting out to address what they identify as a lack of robust Canadian research on the effects of day programs on older adults living with dementia and their caregivers, especially those of equity-deserving groups with multiple, intersecting vulnerabilities.

“Health systems have increasingly shifted care for people with dementia from institutions to the community,” says Hoben, the Helen Carswell Chair in Dementia Care. “While care in the community is the preference of persons with dementia and their family/friend caregivers, most of the care is provided by caregivers who, in turn, receive little support.”

The team believes supports are important for both the person needing care and their caregivers, so they are examining the effectiveness of adult day programs as a method of support.

“Adult day programs are among the few community supports that aim to meet these simultaneous needs,” Hoben explains, “but we lack research on their effectiveness and on how and why they do or do not work.”

By partnering with key experts across Canada – those in need of care, their caregivers, advocates, day program staff and health system policymakers – this project aims to reveal how and why day programs have positive, negative or no effects on people with dementia and their caregivers, uncovering important avenues for improving their effectiveness.

With the help of the CIHR-IA funding, and in collaboration with health systems and regional Alzheimer societies, the team will recruit individuals with dementia who have recently been admitted to day programs and their primary caregivers. The researchers will compare them to a group that is not using day programs. They will also assess how program characteristics and the social identities of participants are associated with study outcomes. To further contextualize the data, they will conduct semi-structured interviews and focus groups.

“I am passionate about supporting persons with dementia and their caregivers,” says Hoben, “and this research will be an important step to build these supports.”

For more information about the funding, visit the Canadian Institutes of Health Research website.

Y-EMERGE partnership to combat climate change by advancing mathematical modelling

climate crisis dry desert BANNER

By Elaine Smith

The York Emergency Mitigation, Engagement, Response & Governance Institute (Y-EMERGE) has established a partnership with the Research & Innovation Centre at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS-RIC) in Rwanda that will bring AIMS PhD students to York University to pursue their research in mathematical modelling as a tool for addressing climate change.

The project, called Human Capacity Building in Climate Change and Health in Africa, is being jointly funded by York International (YI) and Global Affairs Canada’s Canadian International Development Scholarships 2030 program, marking the first external grant to Y-EMERGE. It is also the first time York International has matched funds on this scale in support of an international research endeavour.

“York International is delighted that our researchers were able to leverage C$25,000 in matching funds to secure a significantly larger external grant for an impactful international research collaboration,” said Vinitha Gengatharan, assistant vice-president of global engagement at YI. “The money will be used to top up scholarships for up to six female PhD students coming to York, as well as to provide emergency bursaries for any PhD student travelling to York for this program.” 

As part of the project, 10 PhD students from the AIMS Research & Innovation Centre will each spend a year at York between 2025 and 2028 to advance their work with mathematical modelling and climate change. Y-EMERGE will be hosting the program, with York International assisting in helping the students to feel at home. Participating students will have the opportunity to develop their research by working with experts in their areas of interest. 

Pictured, from left to right: Vinitha Gengatharan, assistant vice-president, global engagement at Y-EMERGE; faculty member Jianhong Wu; Sam Yala, president of AIMS Rwanda; York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton; Amir Asif, vice-president research and innovation; Y-EMERGE faculty member Woldegebriel Assefa Woldegerima 
Pictured, from left to right: Vinitha Gengatharan, assistant vice-president of global engagement at Y-EMERGE; York University Professor Jianhong Wu; Sam Yala, president of AIMS Rwanda; York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton; Amir Asif, vice-president research and innovation at York U; and York U Professor Woldegebriel Assefa Woldegerima. 

AIMS is no stranger to York U; the institutions have previously collaborated on infectious disease modelling for influenza and COVID-19.

For Professor Jude Kong, founder and director of the University’s Africa-Canada Artificial Intelligence & Data Innovation Consortium (ACADIC) and a native of Cameroon, this collaboration is a passion project. He believes a focus on climate change and health is imperative, as the African continent is already feeling the effects of climate change.

“We’ll take the modelling experience present at York’s Y-EMERGE and CDM [the Centre for Disease Modelling], as well as ACADIC and AIMS, to ensure we build the capacity to model climate change in Africa,” said Kong. “Climate change is coming and the situation is worsening in Africa. It will affect health in a way that has never happened before, and we’ll be able to build responsible models with an understanding of the local dynamics. … We’ll be using local expertise, so the results will be locally relevant, decolonized and intersectional.”

Professor Jianhong Wu, director of Y-EMERGE, is equally committed to the project.

“We consider this to not just be the beginning of an intensive collaboration with the AIMS Research & Innovation Centre in particular, but AIMS in general,” he said.

Professor Wilfred Ndifon, president of the AIMS Research & Innovation Centre, added, “For us at the institutional level, we have achieved our successes thanks to partnerships like the one we have with CDM.”

To help facilitate this long-term partnership, Y-EMERGE is forming a college of mentors to work with the AIMS students and establishing an advisory board to guide the growing Africa-Canada collaboration in mathematical modelling.

“We want the students to not only get excellent training but to grow their careers and begin to build up their own networks,” Wu said. “The students who come to York to train will be ambassadors for collaboration between the African continent and Canada in mathematical sciences.”

Kong is excited by the opportunity to build capacity on his home continent through a “train-the-trainers” model.

“When these students return home, they will be sent to other AIMS centres to make data actionable,” he said. “We need homegrown talent, rather than people from the Global North, to teach others [in Africa]. York is one of the many institutions that have reached out to help AIMS change the paradigm, and it is committing funding because they don’t view this as a one-off.”

Andrew Dawson

Andrew Dawson

Professor Andrew Dawson presented the webinar ‘Political Trust and Democracy: the Critical Citizens Thesis Re-Examined,’ hosted by the European Union-funded Trust in European Democracies project

York U in the news: decentralization of liquor sales, Ontario election rumours and more

Ontario’s expansion of alcohol to convenience stores is a covert union avoidance strategy
An op-ed by York University Professor Steven Tufts was published in the Conversation June 12.

Election rumours invite reflections on Doug Ford’s record in Ontario
An op-ed by York University Professor Mark Winfield was published in the Conversation June 10.

University of Toronto was just crowned one of the most beautiful in the world
York University was mentioned in BlogTO June 11.

See more ways York University is making headlines at News @ York.

Joanna Thompson-Anselm

Joanna Thompson-Anselm

Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change alumna Joanna Thompson-Anselm has been selected by Lindblad Expeditions and the National Geographic Society as a 2024 Grosvenor Teacher Fellow

York U study examines immigrant families’ experiences with autism stigma, caregiver stress

Woman and child hands holding together colorful puzzle heart on light blue background

A study by York University Faculty of Health Professor Farah Ahmad and her students Fariha Shafi and Amirtha Karunakaran, titled “Autism, Stigma, and South Asian Immigrant Families in Canada,” was recently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

While existing evidence suggests early autism diagnosis and support results in positive outcomes for children and youth on the spectrum and their families, Ahmad believed the same might not be true for children of racialized families, who are often diagnosed at later ages and are more likely to be misdiagnosed and experience barriers to service access. She also identified a lack of research examining the experiences of parents in Canada from specific immigrant groups – many from racialized communities – who are caring for their children on the spectrum.

With funding from York University’s Faculty of Health, through a Collaborative & Community-based Research Seed Grant, the York U researchers set out to address this knowledge gap by looking at South Asian Canadian immigrant parents with children on the autism spectrum and examining their experiences with available care programs and supports, as well as their perceptions of social stigma.

“Disability should not hinder people’s opportunities to reach their full potential,” said Ahmad, “so it’s a matter of human rights to bring forth hardship experienced by families caring for their children or adult family members on the autism spectrum. This is particularly relevant for racialized immigrant families, given the dearth of scholarly knowledge in Canada on their experiences.”

The team worked with community collaborators, including the SAAAC Autism Centre and Health Access Thorncliffe Park, to find suitable study participants. Nine South Asian parents living in the Greater Toronto Area were selected and interviewed individually.

The study’s findings confirmed barriers to an autism diagnosis and to service access. Additionally, parent participants reported that the stigma surrounding autism kept them from receiving a timely diagnosis, access to support services and guidance on health-promoting behaviours. The findings also revealed considerable caregiver stress and psychological distress.

“I believe in a proactive strategy,” said Ahmad, “where we as researchers examine the ‘ground reality’ of caregivers’ challenges and ways to cope, with the aim to enhance equity in practice and policymaking for improving structural supports for them, including efforts to reduce societal negative attitudes towards disabilities.”

Ahmad and her team expect the evidence revealed by their study to have wide-ranging impacts, including helping to inform equitable policy, programming, and practices that better support the needs of children on the spectrum and their immigrant families.

York U in the news: Trump’s post-conviction windfall, politics of pronunciation and more

Trump’s post-conviction windfall shows democracy is increasingly a pay-to-play game
An op-ed co-written by York University Professor Emeritus Daniel Drache was published in the Conversation June 9.

Spivak, politics of pronunciation, and the search for a just democracy
An op-ed by York University Professor Ilan Kapoor was published in Al Jazeera June 7.

Can I sue a car company if their driving-assist feature causes a crash?
Osgoode Hall Law School Professor Dan Priel was quoted in the Globe and Mail June 9.

Mediation talks continue as more than 9,000 border service workers poised to strike Friday
York University Professor Steven Tufts was quoted in the Toronto Star June 10.

Filling the new Don River valley was all going according to plan. Then it sprang a leak
York University Professor Jennifer Bonnell was quoted in the Toronto Star June 10.

Two small communities are competing to receive Canada’s inventory of nuclear waste. They can’t be sure what they’ll get
York University Professor Mark Winfield was quoted in the Globe and Mail June 10.

2024 Global Investment Conference: A look at evolving retirement trends
Leona Fields, director of pension fund at York University, was quoted in Benefits Canada June 10.

What could aliens look like?
York University Professor Sarah Rugheimer was quoted in Live Science June 7.

Open House Wednesday for Oshawa’s Downtown Urban Square art installation
York University Professor Brandon Vickerd was mentioned in inDurham June 7.

Petra Molnar: AI Ethnography Masterclass
Petra Molnar, associate director of the Refugee Law Lab at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, was mentioned on StayHappening.com June 8.

See more ways York University is making headlines at News @ York.

York U professor helps transform engineering education in Uganda

Kampala,,Uganda

In an effort to enhance undergraduate engineering research in Uganda, faculty members from York University and the University of British Columbia have joined forces on an education-enhancing project with Academics Without Borders (AWB), a non-profit organization aiming to improve the higher education landscape in developing countries.

The Strengthening Engineering Undergraduate Research (SER-Undergraduate) project, initiated by faculty at the Mbarara University of Science & Technology (MUST) in Uganda, aims to provide international support to MUST undergraduate students, empowering them to engage in high-quality research endeavours.

As part of the collaboration, York U Professor Arash Habibi Lashkari – an AWB volunteer who is also the founder and director of York University’s Behaviour-Centric Cybersecurity Center – embarked on a week-long visit to MUST, where he interacted with students and faculty members to assess the current state of the institution’s undergraduate research program and identify areas for improvement.

York University Professor Arash Habibi Lashkari (front, centre) with students from the Mbarara University of Science & Technology in Uganda.

“I am honoured to be part of this initiative to empower undergraduate students in Uganda to pursue research excellence,” says Lashkari. “By sharing our expertise and resources, we can make a meaningful impact on these students’ academic and professional trajectory.”

During his visit to Uganda, Lashkari engaged in insightful discussions with students, faculty members, the international office and the administration department, guiding and enhancing research methodologies and academic standards. The visit not only fostered knowledge exchange but also served as a testament to the importance of volunteerism and international collaboration in advancing education and research on a global scale.

“Membership in the AWB Network offers opportunities for academics and professionals to share their expertise and knowledge as volunteers in capacity-building projects in partnership with institutions in low- and middle-income countries,” says Professor Nancy Gallini, executive director of Academics Without Borders. “Engaging in this work gives faculty and staff a global perspective that enriches education and research on their campuses.”

For MUST students, the SER-Undergraduate project allows for access to resources, mentorship and opportunities for hands-on research experience that they wouldn’t have otherwise had. By leveraging the expertise and resources of Canadian faculty members serving as volunteers, Ugandan students can gain the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in their future academic and professional endeavours.

As the SER-Undergraduate project continues to unfold, the goal of transforming engineering education and empowering a new generation of research-driven scholars in Uganda remains.

For more information, visit the Academics Without Borders website.

New required training for all York U staff, faculty and instructors

An American road sign with a sky background and word Training, Training this way

Voir la version française

York University is launching a new online training module called Slips, Trips and Falls Prevention, available June 10 on YU Learn.

Slips, trips and falls are among the most common causes of injuries reported at the University. This training aims to prevent workplace injuries using a series of lessons and knowledge checks to review how to identify and eliminate hazards, how to report and correct unsafe conditions, and how to respond to a slip, trip or fall incident.

This concise, self-paced module will be offered online via YU Learn and is required training for all staff, faculty and instructors at York University. This training is mandatory and all employees must complete the training before Oct. 1.

To access the training module, employees must register on YU Learn using their Passport York credentials. Select “Register” and then click the “Access Course” button. The course will then remain on the YU Learn dashboard until successfully completed. Upon completion, the course will be listed with the date completed in the Required Courses section of the My Learning History tab (accessible via the YU Learn dashboard). 

For more information or assistance with the training, employees should reach out to their manager or academic administrator, or email hslearn@yorku.ca.

Nouveau formation obligatoire pour l’ensemble des membres du personnel et des corps professoral et enseignant

An American road sign with a sky background and word Training, Training this way

L’Université York est heureuse d’annoncer un nouveau module de formation en ligne sur la prévention des glissades, des faux pas et des chutes, disponible le 10 juin dans YU Learn

Les glissades, les faux pas et les chutes sont parmi les causes les plus courantes de blessures signalées à l’Université. Cette formation vise à prévenir les accidents du travail à l’aide d’une série de leçons et de contrôles des connaissances afin d’apprendre à définir et éliminer les dangers, à signaler et corriger les conditions dangereuses et à réagir en cas de glissade, de faux pas ou de chute. 

Ce module concis à faire à votre rythme sera proposé en ligne dans YU Learn et constitue une formation obligatoire pour l’ensemble du personnel et des corps professoral et enseignant de l’Université York.   

Tout le monde doit l’avoir suivie avant le 1er octobre.  

Pour accéder au module de formation, veuillez vous inscrire à l’aide de vos identifiants Passport York à : yulearn.yorku.ca/local/yulearn/learning_opportunity.php?id=1110

Sélectionnez Register, puis cliquez sur le bouton Access course. Le cours restera sur votre tableau de bord YU Learn jusqu’à son achèvement. Une fois terminé, le cours sera répertorié avec la date d’achèvement dans la section Required Courses de votre onglet My Learning History (accessible sur votre tableau de bord YU Learn). 

Si vous rencontrez des difficultés pour accéder à la formation ou si vous avez des questions, n’hésitez pas à contacter votre gestionnaire, votre gestionnaire des affaires académiques, ou hslearn@yorku.ca

Nous nous réjouissons de vous offrir cette nouvelle occasion d’apprentissage et vous remercions par avance de votre participation.