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Two new TMU CRCs will drive health research forward

January 16, 2024
Professors M. Natasha Rajah and April Khademi

Professors M. Natasha Rajah and April Khademi are Toronto Metropolitan University’s newest Canada Research Chairs.

Two Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) researchers will advance our understanding of human health through new Canada Research Chairs. 

The two new chairs are M. Natasha Rajah, a psychology professor from the Faculty of Arts, and April Khademi, a biomedical engineering professor from the Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science. 

The variables impacting brain health as we age 

The new Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Sex, Gender and Diversity in Brain Health, Memory and Aging is professor Rajah. She will develop a more inclusive understanding of what factors contribute to the trajectories of cognitive aging and of healthy and pathological brains. Her research will be conducted by using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in combination with cognitive testing of adults from diverse backgrounds. As part of her research program, in collaboration with national and international partners, she will investigate why there are sex differences in the prevalence of some neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, in which two-thirds of cases are females. Professor Rajah’s work will aid the creation of culturally inclusive and precise preventative care, supporting Canadians’ brain health and memory function through the aging process. 

“I want to determine what variables provide resilience and/or hinder cognitive and brain health as we age, and if these differ based on an individual’s biological sex, gendered life experiences and other sociocultural factors. I also want to ensure we develop a more equitable understanding of brain and cognitive aging that reflects the diversity of Canada’s population,” said professor Rajah. 

Improving medical imaging through AI tools

Professor Khademi is the new Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in AI for Medical Imaging. Her research will focus on designing and deploying artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning tools that can be used to augment the workflows of radiologists and pathologists to drive more efficient and accurate diagnoses. This research chair will enable her Image Analysis and Medicine Lab to extract insights from different kinds of medical imaging, such as MRI scans or digital pathology images, to analyze large datasets and provide more quantitative measurements of diseases such as dementia and breast cancer. Professor Khademi’s research will improve outcomes for Canadians by increasing diagnostic accuracy and reducing wait times for patients with cancer and neurological disease.

“My goal is to bring medical imaging AI from research to reality, and I can’t wait to bring these AI tools to real clinical practice,” said professor Khademi.

“I’m thrilled to congratulate professors Rajah and Khademi on this accomplishment,” said Steven N. Liss, TMU’s vice-president, research and innovation. “Their work will provide critical insights into human health and help inform clinical practices from prevention to intervention to diagnosis, strengthening TMU’s expanding scholarly excellence in health research.”