Dr. Heather Stewart is jointly appointed as a research associate in the Gerontology Research Centre at Simon Fraser University, and at the University of BC’s Brain Research Centre. Heather is the regional manager for the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA), an unprecedented national research study on adult development and aging, and which is being led in BC by Dr. Andrew Wister at SFU, and Dr. Max Cynader at UBC.
Heather earned her undergraduate degree in Kinesiology from Simon Fraser University, and a diploma of technology in electroneurophysiology from the BC Institute of Technology. From 1991 through 2003, she was an electroneuro-diagnostic technologist and clinical research coordinator for the Neuromuscular Disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Clinic at Vancouver General Hospital. There she managed many research projects and clinical trials for ALS, and co-authored numerous papers on the clinical and neurophysiological manifestations of ALS. It was from this work with ALS patients and their families that she was inspired to obtain her PhD in ALS neurophysiology and genetics, which she obtained from the Department of Medicine/Neurology at Umea University in Sweden in 2006. She returned to Vancouver to do postdoctoral work on preclinical development of vaccines for treating ALS with Dr. Neil Cashman and Amorfix Life Sciences Ltd. Over the last year, Heather has bridged neuroscience, aging and environmental health research by bringing together researchers and students from gerontology, environmental and public health sciences, civil engineering and mathematics to study how changes to the built and natural environment influence the health, functional wellness and quality of life older adults. She recently co-led a study with Dr. Eunju Hwang exploring the impacts of the 2010 Winter Olympics on older adults residing in downtown Vancouver, including impacts from changes in traffic and air quality on their health, functional wellness and mobility. Heather is leading a multidisciplinary team of researchers in the development of research to explore linkages and dynamics between the 2 of the most urgent challenges to human health today, namely population aging and global warming.
Heather has published widely in numerous scientific journals, has co-authored 2 book chapters on ALS, and has presented her research at both local and international symposia. She is also a volunteer with the BC Centre for Elder Advocacy and Support, and serves on the board of directors for the BC Environmental and Occupational Health Research Network Society.
Rutherford, N.J., Heckman, M.G., Dejesus-Hernandez, M., Baker, M.C., Soto-Ortolaza, A.I., Rayaprolu, S., Stewart, H., et al. (2012). Length of normal alleles of C9ORF72 GGGGCC repeat do not influence disease phenotype. Neurobiology of Aging, 33(12), 2950.e5-7. doi: 0.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2012.07.005
Stewart, H., Rutherford, N.J., Briemberg, H., Krieger, C., Cashman, N., et al. (2012). Clinical and pathological features of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis caused by mutation in the C9ORF72 gene on chromosome 9p. Acta Neuropathologica, 123(3), 409-17. doi: 10.1007/s00401-011-0937-5
Rademakers, R., Stewart, H.G., Dejesus-Hernandez, M., Krieger, C., Graff-Radford, N., Fabros, M., Briemberg, H., Cashman, N., Eisen, A., Mackenzie, I.R. (2010). Fus gene mutations in familial and sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Muscle Nerve, 42(2), 170-6.
Sanjak, M., Salachas, F., Frija-Orvoen, E., Theys, P., Hutchinson, D., Verheijde, J., Pianta, T., Stewart, H.G., Brooks, B., Meininger, V., Douillet, P., & et al. (2010). Quality control of vital capacity as a primary outcome measure during phase lll therapeutic clinical trial in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Amyotroph Lateral Scler, 11(4), 383-8.
Rutherford, N.J., Zhang, Y.J., Baker, M., Gass, J.M., Finch, N.A., Xu, Y.F., Stewart, H.G., & et al. (2008). Novel mutations in TARDBP (TDP-43) in patients with familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. PLoS Genet, 4(9), e1000193, doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000193
Eisen, A., Mezei, M., Stewart, H.G., Fabros, M., Gibson, G., Andersen, P.M. (2008). SOD1 gene mutations in ALS patients from British Columbia, Canada: clinical features, neurophysiology and ethical issues in management. Amyotroph Lateral Scler, 9(2), 109-118.
Rademakers, R., Baker, M., Gass, J., Adamson, J., Huey, E.D., Momeni, P., Spina, S., Coppola, G., Karydas, A.M., Stewart, H.G., & et al. (2007). Phenotypic variability associated with progranulin haploinsufficiency in patients with the common 1477C-->T (Arg493X) mutation: an international initiative. Lancet Neurol, 6(10), 857-68.
Zetterström, P., Stewart, H.G., Bergemalm, D., Jonsson, P.A., Graffmo, K.S., Andersen, P.M., Brännström, T., Oliveberg. M., Marklund, S.L. (2007). Soluble misfolded subfractions of mutant superoxide dismutase-1s are enriched in spinal cords throughout life in murine ALS models. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 104(35), 14157-62.
Mackenzie, I.R., Bigio, E.H., Ince, P.G., Geser, F., Neumann, M., Cairns, N.J., Kwong, L.K., Forman, M.S., Ravits, J., Stewart, H.G., & et al. (2007). Pathological TDP-43 distinguishes sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with SOD1 mutations. Ann Neurol, 61(5), 427-34.
Stewart, H.G., Andersen, P.M., Eisen, A., Weber, M. (2006). Corticomotoneuronal dysfunction in ALS patients with different SOD1 mutations. Clin Neurophysiol, 117(8), 1850-61.