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Congratulations to Dr. Benedict Albensi, Ph.D., BCMAS, CRQM, Principal Investigator and the Everett Endowment Fund Chair for Alzheimer’s Research at the St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre, who will be leaving Winnipeg for Fort Lauderdale as the newly appointed Department Chair for the Dept. of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the College of Pharmacy at Nova Southeast University in Florida, USA.  Additionally, he will also be Co-Director of NSU Florida’s recently launched B.R.A.I.N. Center, which will look at brain metabolism and the role of antioxidant and nutritional factors across the life span.

Albensi, who is ranked as a world expert, joined the Division of Neurodegenerative Disorders here at St. Boniface Hospital Research, in 2005. He is best known for his work with factors involved in ageing, cognition, and Alzheimer’s disease (AD), such as nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB), a mediator of inflammation and a required molecule for memory.

“Ben brought great things to St. Boniface Research and DND, and we will miss his energy and expertise,” said Dr. Paul Fernyhough, Director of DND and Principal Investigator, Cell Biology of Neurodegeneration Lab. “He has always pushed the boundaries, for instance, he is one of the few basic scientists who have ventured into clinical research with his flax beverage study looking at memory loss.”

Fernyhough recruited Albensi 16 years ago to join St. Boniface Hospital Research because he was looking for someone to lead the development and expansion of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) research here in Manitoba.

“He’s been very successful connecting with families, organizations and research teams to develop collaborative research approaches. This was an ambitious plan for our region and the connections he’s forged are important and impressive,” he explained.

For Dr. Mike Czubryt, Interim Executive Director at SBRC, Albensi’s departure is significant, “If you look at some of his metrics, and the recognition he’s received, he’s been a stellar addition to our team here, attracting significant funding, raising our profile as a world leader in basic and clinical research,” he said.

Albensi’s lab and team will remain operational as the majority portion of his current funding is active for another three years. “I’ll be back regularly to check in with my team on major milestones for ongoing projects,” he said.   

For Fernyhough, it’s been good to collaborate with Albensi, “I have always admired his rigorous approach and drive to achieve through lifelong learning. From all of us in DND, we wish him the very best success moving forward.”

Benedict Albensi earned his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Utah’s Medical School in 1995. He was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, working with Drs. Faden and Pekar, where he developed MRI methods for investigating head trauma and cognition. He then went on to work as a Postdoctoral Scholar with Dr. Mark Mattson, an internationally recognized leader in neurodegenerative research, at the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging – University of Kentucky where he was the first to show NF-kB is required for synaptic plasticity in mammals. Other appointments have included the Cleveland Clinic, NPS Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, Case Western Reserve University. Over the last few years, his work has been largely focused on mitochondrial dysfunction in AD, and recently showed how very early deficits and sex-based differences in mitochondrial function before the appearance of plaques and tangles, are the classic hallmarks of AD.