Dr. Demetrios Sahlas

What’s your role with ONDRI?

I’m the recruiting clinician for vascular cognitive impairment (VCI) in Hamilton. My role is to ensure we offer participation in the study to as many patients with VCI as we can.

Why is working with ONDRI important to you?

It’s very exciting to be part of the collaboration between universities across Ontario. ONDRI is a unique set up and I don’t know of any studies similar to this being done before. Working together is allowing us to achieve something much bigger and with a greater scope than any one of us could achieve on our own.

What’s your research focus?

My research interests include the diagnosis and management of carotid artery disease, the use of transcranial doppler (TCD) ultrasound in the prevention and treatment of cerebrovascular disease, and the cognitive and neuropathological correlates of chronic microvascular ischemic changes involving the periventricular and subcortical white matter.

How does VCI relate to dementia?

When I started my career, I became interested in dementia right around the time when neurodegeneration and cerebrovascular disease were increasingly getting linked with one another. I thought about where I could have the biggest impact at preventing dementia and made VCI my focus because we know so much about preventing stroke already. I hope that ONDRI will help us to better understand the relationship between VCI and neurodegenerative diseases.

How are you promoting health?

One of my goals is to continuously promote vascular health. An effective initiative was the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Café Scientifique event that we held in June 2014 to talk about keeping your brain health as you grow older. It was an opportunity for the public to informally ask questions to experts about this hot topic. I’d also like to create more awareness about dementia and one of the ways to do this is by highlighting celebrities that people can relate to – for instance, Robin Williams’ autopsy suggests in hindsight that he was likely suffering from Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB).

What makes for a great workday?

They’re all so great – on a typical work day, I improve the lives of patients, collaborate with academic colleagues, work as part of interdisciplinary teams, and interact with fellows and interns. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Have you ever consider another profession?

When I was younger, I wanted to be an astronomer. In university, I became interested in the neurosciences and eventually went into medicine. In recent years, I’ve developed a major interest in a particular period of medieval history, and wish I could take a sabbatical in order to pursue my historical studies more rigorously.

Tell us about your travels.

I love to travel all over the world with my family and write about our experiences. Some of my articles have been published in Doctor’s Review and The Globe and Mail. We recently had a misadventure in Italy when the ferry we were supposed to take to Greece broke down so we’re taking a small break from travelling right now (read about it here).