Alanna Black – Research Coordinator & Lab Manager

Alanna Black, MSc, CCRP is the Research Coordinator and Project Manager for Dr. Manuel Montero Odasso’s lab. Alanna studied Brain and Mind Science (MSc.) at The University of Sydney and returned to Western University to complete her Post-Graduate Diploma in Clinical Trials Management. She is currently managing the national SYNERGIC Trial, which evaluates the effect of aerobic and progressive resistance training exercises, isolated or combined with cognitive training and vitamin D supplementation, in older adults with MCI. This trial is conducted by the Motor Exercise and Cognition Team, which is part of the Canadian Consortium in Neurodegeneration and Aging (CCNA). In addition, she also manages the Gait study (waves 1 and 2), which explores whether changes in the way an individual walks while doing a mental activity might be able to help predict how long it will take people with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) to progress to dementia.

If you would like more information on studies currently being conducted at the Gait and Brain Lab, please contact Alanna at 519-685-4292 ext. 42179 or


Dr. Frederico Pieruccini-Faria – Post Doctoral Fellow

Frederico is a Postdoctoral fellow in medicine at University of Western Ontario/Parkwood Institute supervised by Dr. Manuel Montero-Odasso, having previously obtained a PhD in Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience. He is currently investigating the influence of depression on balance control of individuals with mild cognitive decline and also the impact of obstacle negotiation on walking stability in the same population. Frederico has been recently awarded a Postdoctoral fellowship from Lawson Foundation to research the neural correlates of obstacle negotiation during walking in individuals with mild cognitive impairment. Additionally, he is co-investigating the benefits of combined interventions using physical exercises, cognitive training and vitamin D supplementation on cognition and mobility deficits in seniors with mild cognitive impairment. Overall, his research aims to unveil and fix the underlying mechanisms of falls in older populations with cognitive impairments.



Dr. Yanina Sarquis-Adamson – Research Coordinator

Yanina Sarquis-Adamson, PhD is a Research Coordinator at the Gait and Brain lab. Yanina obtained her Bachelors from University of Buenos Aires, and a PhD from the Biology Department at the University of Western Ontario in 2016. Her role at the Gait and Brain Lab involves creation and management of study databases, as well as analysis of research findings and reporting of results. Yanina also leads grant preparation for the lab. In addition, she assists other members of the lab with project support.





Shaylana Nejim – Research Assistant

Shaylana Nejim, BSc. began at the Gait and Brain Lab by completing her practicum component as part of the Post-Graduate Diploma program in Clinical Trials Management at Western University (July 2017). Prior to enrolling in this program, Shaylana completed her Bachelor’s degree at Western University in Health Sciences in 2016. During her undergraduate degree, she tailored her courses to learn about the process of aging and its relation to health. Shay assists with data input, participant recruitment, and file preparation, among other study related duties and tasks. Shay is also heavily involved in the SYNERGIC Trial intervention sessions held at Western Campus.





Dr. Susan Muir-Hunter – Team Scientist

Dr. Susan Hunter image

Dr. Susan Muir-Hunter is an Assistant Professor in the School of Physical Therapy at the University of Western Ontario. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Physical Therapy in 1990 and PhD from the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Western Ontario in 2009. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship under the supervision of Dr. Montero Odasso in the Gait & Brain Lab.

Her areas of research interest are a natural extension of her clinical experience as a Physical Therapist in the rehabilitative treatment of geriatric patients and their experience of falls, frailty and functional decline. She has a particular interest in the rehabilitation challenges and needs of the cognitively impaired older adult.  Her research has been supported by the CIHR Institute of Aging, Ontario Graduate Scholarship, the Physiotherapy Foundation of Canada and Alzheimer Society of Canada Research Program. She has  been the recipient of the AgePlus Prize from CIHR Institute of Aging, the Cowdry Prize from the Canadian Geriatrics Society, the New Investigator Award from the Ontario Research Coalition and the Aging, the Central Nervous System, and Mobility Workshop Travel Grant from the 2013 Gerontological Society of American Annual Scientific Meeting.

Dr. Ryota Sakurai – Team Scientist

Dr. Ryota Sakurai is a senior researcher at the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology. He has received his doctoral degree from Tokyo Metropolitan University in March 2014.

He conducted a postdoctoral research under the supervision of Dr. Montero Odasso in the Gait & Brain Lab from 2015 to 2016. His research goal is to reveal the mechanisms in cognition-motor interrelationships. His research focuses on the characteristics of self-estimating physical ability and its relationship to fall risk. He currently focuses on the neural mechanism of the relationship between gait and cognitive functions under the mentorship of Dr. Montero-Odasso. His research has been supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. He was awarded the 2015 American Geriatric Society New Investigator Award, Travel Award from the Gerontological Society of America to International Society for Posture and Gait Research, Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging—Canadian Geriatric Society Mobility, Cognition in Aging Poster Session 1st Prize, 2016 Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Welfare Foundation Research Encouragement Prize, and 2016 Journal of Epidemiology Best Reviewer Award.




Dr. Robert Bartha – Team Scientist

Read more about Dr. Bartha here.








Dr. G.Y. Zou – Team Scientist

Read more about Dr. Zou here.

Dr. Mark Speechley – Team Scientist

Read more about Dr. Speechley here.