The human brain is an amazing thing…until it fails

Dr. Brent Chappell

CABHI’s Community of Innovation podcast is proud to introduce a series of episodes featuring conversations from the CABHI Summit 2023. This episode, the first of our special Summit episodes, features Dr. Brent Chappell, a radiologist and a slam poet from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. In his powerful and moving keynote address, Brent inspires us to understand why Alzheimer’s disease research and innovation matter.

Key Highlights

Dr. Allison Sekuler

“I think what stood out for me…is just the raw emotion of it, the power of it, and the vulnerability with which he’s describing the experience that he and his family went through…Each person really has their own story when it comes to Alzheimer’s and related dementias but we do have commonalities across them…even though it’s so personal, I think [his message is] still a very universal message.”

Dr. Rosanne Aleong

“He is brutally honest throughout his keynote, sharing so much detail. I felt a lot of gratitude that he was willing to share the depth of his experience. I also admired that he is sharing his story as a call to action for future generations. He’s wanting his experience to inform those of his family, his children, and others in his community – taking an opportunity to share for the betterment of others.”

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Learn more about our guest

Dr. Brent Chappell

“Hi. My name is Brent Chappell. I know bios are usually written in the third person, as if someone else was writing it. That has always seemed strange and awkward to me, so please let me just tell you a bit about myself.

I am sixty-four years old, about the age my father was when he began to show signs of dementia. I find myself thinking about that these days when I can’t find my keys. I have a wonderful wife and three amazing daughters. I’m guessing they sometimes wonder if I might be losing my keys because I have left them in the microwave.

In my work, I am a physician and a radiologist. In case you are not sure what that is (I do find myself often having to explain it), I am the guy who reads your X-ray or ultrasound, not the guy who radiates your cancer. I’ve been doing this job for 33 years, and I still love it. I have a large tattoo portrait on my arm of Wilhelm Roentgen, the discoverer of X-rays.

Clearly, I am a nerd. I love the technical and intellectual side of my job, but I am equally obsessed with the human side of medicine. I am also a poet, mainly a spoken word or slam poet. I have been Saskatoon slam champion twice and have had the privilege of being on the Slam team representing Saskatoon at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. In 2015 we were named national champions. I am well aware of how weird it is to have poetry competitions. I don’t perform or write as much as I used to, but when I do these days, it is often about dementia.

My wife’s mother was so devastated by her worsening dementia she killed herself at age 72. My father is now in a nursing home. He still tells me he loves me but doesn’t know who I am. My best friend’s wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 61. It killed her within a year. My heart is breaking.

I am slowly learning about the people and organizations doing research into dementia, and I am immensely privileged to have had the opportunity to do volunteer work with the Alzheimer’s Society of Saskatchewan and now to speak at the CABHI summit.”

About the Podcast

CABHI’s Community of Innovation podcast is where topics on ingenuity, aging and brain health collide. Join us as we talk to experts in healthcare, research, technology and business, as well as older adults and their caregivers, about the innovative practices and healthtech solutions helping us all lead longer, healthier lives.

Hosted by Dr. Allison Sekuler (President and Chief Scientist at CABHI) and Dr. Rosanne Aleong (Director of Research, Innovation, and Translation at CABHI).

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