Surrey, BC – The Surrey Hospital Foundation, together with Fraser Health, today announced the appointment of Dr. Xiaowei Song as Fraser Health’s first Senior Clinical Research Scientist dedicated 100 per cent to research. Made possible by funding from the Surrey Hospital Foundation, Dr. Song will continue her ongoing critical brain imaging research in the areas of aging and frailty, brain health and related brain conditions.
“Fraser Health looks after more than 1 in 20 Canadians or more than 1.8 million people,” says Jane Adams, President & CEO of the Surrey Hospital Foundation. “The Surrey Hospital Foundation invests in ground-breaking research and health innovations that support Fraser Health, and we are proud to provide funding for Xiaowei as well as many other Surrey-based pioneering health care researchers who are trailblazers just like her.”
As Fraser Health’s first Senior Clinical Research Scientist dedicated 100 per cent to research, Dr. Song will be focused on conducting clinically translational research projects, supporting the development of the clinical programs, and building up the clinical research capacities at Fraser Health to improve health care of patients and promote better health for the communities.
“I am extremely excited to continue delivering clinical research excellence in Surrey,” says Dr. Xiaowei Song. “Thanks to funding from the Surrey Hospital Foundation, I can further develop innovative brain health technologies and applications to track, document and assist the medical and research communities in improving the health care of patients in our communities.”
Dr. Xiaowei Song has been working as a neuroscientist and neuroimaging specialist at Fraser Health and was previously the MRI Program Head at the SFU ImageTech Lab at Surrey Memorial Hospital to establish and develop the MRI research centre. She is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biomedical Physiology & Kinesiology at Simon Fraser University and in the Department of Medicine at Dalhousie University. Before moving to BC in 2014, she spent 18 years in Halifax, working at Dalhousie, IWK and QEII Health Centres, and the Neuroimaging Research Laboratory of the National Research Council of Canada.
One of the most innovative investigations she will focus on in her new role, is the automation of a new measurement of brain health by leveraging artificial intelligence, deep machine learning and data mining. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data processed at the ImageTech Lab and other databases, Dr. Song and her research team are developing the “whole brain atrophy and lesion index” to evaluate and score potential health indicators found in the brain.
Research has shown that there are several categories of health indicators that can be found in the brain such as vascular, degenerative, connectivity, and inflammatory changes that can potentially integrate as benchmarks of overall health wellness. These changes can accumulative and interact affecting cognition and brain function. The automated whole brain health assessment can allow early detection and measurement of holistic health changes and can potentially predict health conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Dr. Song’s goal with the “whole brain health index” is to help medical practitioners make earlier health diagnoses and interventions for patients with developing health conditions.
Dr. Song has also spent much of her career researching and tracking health and frailty in seniors as they age and was involved in the creation and development of the Frailty Index of deficit accumulation, as the first postdoctoral research associate with Dr. Kenneth Rockwood and Dr. Arnold Mitnitski at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia back to 2002.
She recently led a research team at Fraser Health, thanks to a $1.38 million grant from the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR), testing an innovative electronic tool that could make it much easier to measure and track frailty in seniors. The electronic Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment tool – Frailty Index (eFI-CGA) – is embedded into an electronic medical record as well as running on personal computers, where it can be used as a benchmark to assess vulnerable seniors and provide faster and more individualized treatment options. Working with Fraser Health CARES program, most recently, the research team has obtained additional funding support from the Canadian Frailty Networks to further implement a web-version of eFI-CGA at Fraser Health for promoting clinical uptake of the research outcome.
For more information on how the Surrey Hospital Foundation continues to support research and innovation, as well as their current Children’s Health Centre and Surgical Centre campaigns, visit https://surreyhospitalfoundation.com.
About Surrey Hospital Foundation:
Surrey Hospital Foundation is the largest non-government funder of health care for families in Surrey and surrounding Fraser Valley communities. The Foundation supports the major health facilities in the region, Surrey Memorial Hospital (SMH) and Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre (JPOCSC), as well as numerous specialized programs for newborns, children, adults and seniors. The Foundation invests in the future of health care by funding innovative research in Surrey that can lead to medical breakthroughs. https://surreyhospitalfoundation.com
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