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Matthew McDonald

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Chatham, Ontario. I completed my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Kinesiology at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. Under the supervision of Drs. Jamie Melling and Earl Noble, my graduate research examined vascular disease progression in rodent models of diabetes and the benefits of different modalities of exercise as a treatment.

What compelled you to pursue stroke research?

Unfortunately, a number of family members have experienced a stroke and having witnessed its effects on family members, I am interested in using my background in exercise physiology to improve the quality of life for individuals following stroke. Despite compelling experimental and clinical evidence that post-stroke exercise is beneficial, many individuals remain inactive following stroke. Therefore, further research is warranted to engage more patients in exercise as a form of rehabilitation following stroke.

What is the focus of your research?

The focus of my research is to determine the ideal mode, intensity, and duration of exercise that is required to have the largest benefit on post-stroke recovery. I am particularly interested in how exercise can stimulate cerebral angiogenesis and other brain plasticity mechanisms commonly implicated in stroke recovery. Additionally, to increase the intensity in which individuals can engage in rehabilitation, I am interested in investigating approaches to mitigate cardiovascular deconditioning and fatigue following stroke.

At what stage are you in your research, and what are your future plans?

I began my postdoctoral training in September 2016, under the supervision of Drs. Dale Corbett and Baptiste Lacoste at the University of Ottawa. For the past year, I have developed pre-clinical exercise paradigms that more closely resemble human exercise patterns. Currently, using rodent models of stroke, I am investigating the potential of exercise to promote functional recovery following stroke. My future plan is to continue studying the efficacy and mechanisms underlying the benefits of exercise during post-stroke recovery.

How do you and others benefit from being part of the National Trainee Association?

The CPSR’s National Trainee Association is a beneficial experience for researchers early in their careers. It provides trainees with the opportunity to foster collaborations with leading stroke recovery researchers across Canada. A program such as the NTA mentorship program offers trainees the advantage to network and receive guidance on their research and career paths from more senior scientists outside of their current training environment. Involvement in the CPSR and the NTA also facilitates the translation of preclinical research to the clinic due to the close working relationship between pre-clinical and clinical researchers.

What other interests do you have?

I enjoy spending my time with my family, my beautiful wife, and our dog. Similar to my research interests, I enjoy being active and playing recreational sports (baseball, golf, and hockey). I am also an avid fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays.