Jennifer Heisz named a 2023 University Scholar
Jennifer, a Canada Research Chair in Brain Health and Aging, leads research in two key areas: dementia prevention and mental health.
Her research shows that physical activity may be an effective strategy for preventing dementia and highlights the need to study exercise-cognition interactions to inform interventions.
As part of a national panel that was commissioned by the Alzheimer Society and Ontario Brain Institute, Jennifer participated as a key expert on the development of exercise guidelines for dementia and helped create the first evidence-based consensus statement for dementia prevention, which she then translated into an evidence-based toolkit.
She also showed that moderate-intensity exercise reduced inflammation and boosted mood, demonstrating a link between the brain and the immune system. During the pandemic, she pivoted her research to develop a new line of clinical research focused on women’s health.
Jennifer “skillfully disseminates knowledge to the public by fostering scientific literacy on mental illness and dementia that aims to empower some of the most vulnerable people in society,” her nominators say.
Jennifer recently accepted a position on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Mental Health Association of Hamilton, where she will serve marginalized community members.
Jennifer was among six McMaster professors to be named 2023 University Scholars.
University Scholars are mid-career researchers who have distinguished themselves as international scholars and have demonstrated a commitment to the discovery, communication and preservation of knowledge, excellence in education and pedagogy, and to serving local and global communities.
Each University Scholar receives $15,000 each year of the award (up to $60,000) provided by the provost and vice-president academic and the recipient’s dean.