Faculty: Walter Swardfager, PhD

Walter Swardfager, PhDWalter Swardfager, PhD
Assistant Professor

General Research Area: Determinants of Cognitive Resilience and Vulnerability.

Dr. Swardfager’s research focuses on symptoms of depression and cognitive dysfunction, particularly in later life. On-going studies explore the neuroimmunological intersection between psychiatric and metabolic diseases as an avenue to discover biomarkers, elucidate vulnerability factors and implicate new treatments. Inflammatory mechanisms by which cardiopulmonary fitness and exercise interventions counteract neurodegenerative processes are of particular interest.

Disease areas of focus include depression, Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and stroke, which often occur together with disastrous consequences. Techniques used include genomics, neuroimaging, serum biomarkers, and neuropsychiatric assessments. The lab also uses public health records to examine the impact of comorbid conditions (e.g. depression and diabetes) on long-term health outcomes in those with chronic diseases.

Current studies include:

  • improving effectiveness of exercise interventions for people with Type 2 diabetes
  • understanding genetic vulnerability to cerebral white matter disease in normal aging and neurodegenerative disorders
  • using metabolic changes in depressive episodes as biomarkers to implicate new avenues for treatment
  • mitigating the impact of diabetes and depression on functional and cognitive recovery from stroke

Selected Publications:

Swardfager W, MacIntosh BJ. Depression, type 2 diabetes, and post-stroke cognitive impairment. Neurorehabil Neural Repair (in press).

Carter J, Swardfager W. Mood and metabolism: Anhedonia as a clinical target in Type 2 diabetes. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2016;69:123-32.

Swardfager W, Black SE. Coronary Artery Calcification: A Canary in the Cognitive Coalmine. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2016 Mar 8;67(9):1023-6.

Swardfager W, Yang P, Herrmann N, Lanctôt KL, Shah BR, A Kiss A, Oh PI. Depressive symptoms predict non-completion of a structured exercise intervention for those with Type 2 diabetes. Diabetic Med. 2016;33(4):529-36

MacIntosh BJ, Swardfager W, Crane DE, Ranepura N, Saleem M, Oh PI, Stefanovic B, Herrmann N, Lanctôt KL. Cardiopulmonary fitness is associated with regional cerebral grey matter perfusion and density in men with coronary artery disease: an exercise and neuroimaging study. PLoS One. 2014:9(3):e91251.

Swardfager W, Herrmann N, Mazereeuw G, Goldberger K, Harimoto T, Lanctôt KL. Zinc in depression; a meta-analysis. Biol Psychiatry. 2013;74(12):872–878.

Swardfager W, Herrmann N, Marzolini S, Saleem M, Shammi P, Oh PI, Albert PR, Daigle M, Kiss A, Lanctôt KL. Brain derived neurotrophic factor, cardiopulmonary fitness and cognition in patients with coronary artery disease. Brain Behav Immun. 2011 Aug;25(6):1264-71.

Swardfager W, Lanctôt KL, Rothenburg L, Wong A, Cappell J, Herrmann N. Cytokines in Alzheimer’s disease, a meta-analysis. Biol Psychiatry. 2010;68(10):930–941.

Swardfager W, Herrmann N, Dowlati Y, Oh P, Kiss A, Walker S, Lanctôt KL. Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase activation and depressive symptoms in patients with coronary artery disease. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2009;34(10):1560–1566.

Read More: The selected publications at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=swardfager


Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology
Faculty of Medicine 
Location: Sunnybrook Research Institute
2075 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, Ontario 
M4N 3M5
Phone: 416-480-6100 ext. 85409
FAX: 416-480-6022
Email: w.swardfager@utoronto.ca

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