#DalResearchNB Highlighted Profile

Dr. Pamela Jarrett, Associate Professor, Division of Geriatrics, Department of Medicine

Co-Section Chair, Health Services Research, Research Council, DMNB

As a geriatrician, most of the patients and families Dr. Pamela Jarrett cares for have memory problems related to dementia with the most common cause being Alzheimer’s Disease. Bearing witness to the significant impacts of this disease on the lives of those it affects – as well as their families – inspired in Dr. Jarrett a real passion for research and dementia. In her words, it “is all about how to make a difference for these patients and their families.”

The primary focus of Dr. Jarrett’s research is the complexity of dementia and its impact on both the person along with health and social care systems. She describes this topic as both “extremely interesting” and “absolutely needed as our population ages and we see more people affected every day.”

Most recently, Dr. Jarrett’s dementia-related research has been focused on two main things. The first area is related to the prevention of dementia and what lifestyle changes can be made in mid-life that might have an impact on developing dementia in later life. This research is being co-led by Dr. Jarrett and Dr. Chris McGibbon at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) Fredericton in conjunction with national researchers in the Canadian Consortium for Neurodegeneration and Aging (CCNA).

The second area of focus is how to improve care for those with dementia in primary care in the community. This work is also in collaboration with CCNA national researchers and international partners. Dr. Jarrett is co-leading this with Dr. Shelley Doucet and Dr. Alison Luke at UNB Saint John. Dr. Jarrett considers herself fortunate to have two large teams of researchers working with her on these projects in New Brunswick and has continued to work on these endeavours throughout the pandemic, modifying the projects to meet the needs of this challenging time.

These two research projects will take two to three years to complete and Dr. Jarrett is hopeful that the findings will lead to real-world results that will prove helpful to New Brunswickers and those beyond our province at risk of developing dementia or living with the disease. She expects further research in this area and a growth of the New Brunswick-based research teams.

According to Dr. Jarrett, the research community in New Brunswick is second to none. She notes how instrumental the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation (NBHRF) has been in supporting her work here in the province and believes they should be commended for their dedication to helping grow research in New Brunswick. In her opinion, these research opportunities have allowed for a diverse group of professionals and organizations across the province to work with other researchers nationally and internationally.

“It is truly amazing how many people are interested in research in this area,” says Dr. Jarrett, “The interdisciplinary nature of this research has brought engineers, epidemiologists, kinesiologists, dieticians, pharmacists, psychologists, nurses, physiotherapists, policy makers, family doctors, and specialists together to work through all of this. What a privilege.”

Looking ahead at 2021, Dr. Jarrett – like everyone else – is very much looking forward to returning to some sort of normalcy. “To be able to sit in a room with family and friends and hug again would be the best day ever,” she shares, “We can all look forward to that again as we continue to move through this challenging time doing the right thing every day, all the time.”

When Dr. Jarrett is not seeing patients or leading research projects, her time with family and friends is what brings her the most joy. Their time spent together during the pandemic remains a definitive silver lining for Dr. Jarrett; although, she has also found solace in weaving and knitting. These hobbies produced several scarves and hats for her loved ones at Christmas this year!