Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose

Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, PhD, PT, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, and Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity, Mobility, and Cognitive Neuroscience. She is the Research Director of the Vancouver General Hospital Falls Prevention Clinic and Director of the Aging, Mobility, and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory. Dr. Liu-Ambrose is an associate member of the UBC Brain Research Centre and the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility.

Dr. Liu-Ambrose received her PhD from the University of British Columbia, Canada in 2004. She completed a 2-year post-doctoral fellowship in the area of cognitive science funded by both Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) and joined the UBC Department of Physical Therapy in April 2006 as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Liu-Ambrose is a recipient of the Royal Society of Canada’s Alice Wilson Award (2006), CIHR Institute of Aging Recognition Prize in Research in Aging (2005 & 2011), MSFHR Career Investigator Award (2006), and CIHR New Investigator Award (2011). Her research focuses on defining the role of exercise to promote healthy aging and prevent cognitive and functional decline among seniors. Her research has been featured by the New York Times and in the Globe and Mail (see News).

When not running around in the lab, Dr. Liu-Ambrose is running about getting her kids to hockey, swimming, soccer, and piano lessons. She also loves to bake whenever time allows it and taking her dog for swims along the beautiful beaches of Spanish Banks.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Jennifer Davis

Postdoctoral fellow
Department of  Physical Therapy, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia

Jennifer Davis, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow working with supervisor Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose. Jennifer has a B.Sc in Honours Physiology, a Masters of Science in Experimental Medicine and a PhD in Health Care and Epidemiology at UBC. Jennifer received both a MSFHR Junior Trainee Award, MSFHR Senior Graduate Studentship, MSFHR postdoctoral fellowship, CIHR Canada Graduate Scholarship and CIHR postdoctoral fellowship for her graduate studies. The aims of Jennifer’s post-doctoral work are to:

1. Conducting an economic evaluation alongside a randomized controlled trials using behavioural interventions (e.g. exercise) aimed at combating cognitive decline and improving mobility.
2. Determine key clinical outcomes that are predictive of health care resource utilization. This research will serve to inform health care decision making in providing information on which clinical outcomes would provide the “best buy” for our limited health care dollars.
3. Determine key clinical outcomes that are predictive of changes in health related quality of life. The underlying goal of this research is to add quality to later life years.
4. Jennifer is also working jointing with the BC Ministry of Health on an initiative to prevent falls and improve mobility among older adults. Jennifer is working with the Vancouver Falls Prevention Team on scaling up falls prevention efforts across BC.

John Best

CIHR and MSFHR Postdoctoral fellow
Department of  Physical Therapy, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia


John Best is a postdoctoral research fellow working under the supervision of Teresa Liu-Ambrose. John’s research uses scientific approaches from lifespan developmental psychology, behavioural economics, health psychology, and kinesiology to study two interrelated questions: (1) What types of experiences bolster cognitive function across the lifespan? (2) What are the cognitive and environmental factors that lead individuals to make choices in the world that promote positive health? In examining these questions, Dr. Best focuses most closely on executive functions, which refer to the cognitive functions essential to goal-oriented and controlled behavior. Originally from the USA, John received a PhD in developmental psychology from the University of Georgia and post-doctoral training in obesity research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He is currently supported by fellowships from CIHR and MSFHR.

Glenn J. Landry

CIHR Postdoctoral fellow
Department of  Physical Therapy, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia

G Landry-ugly picGlenn Landry is a postdoctoral research fellow supervised by Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose. His current research efforts focus on circadian rhythms, sleep, aging and cognition. In particular, Glenn is interested in determining whether age-related changes in sleep duration, efficiency and architecture contribute to or accelerate cognitive decline in the elderly. Glenn’s goal is to identify chronotherapeutic interventions capable of delaying cognitive decline in the elderly, with the objective of improving quality of life, productivity, and extending capacity for independent living. Glenn completed his graduate research at Simon Fraser University, examining the circadian mechanisms of food & reward entrainment, supported by grants from MSFHR and NSERC.

Cindy Barha

CIHR and MSFHR/PARF Postdoctoral fellow
Department of  Physical Therapy, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia


Cindy Barha is a postdoctoral research fellow supervised by Drs. Teresa Liu-Ambrose and Robin Hsiung. Cindy’s primary research interests focus on the interactions between the stress and reproductive axes in determining developmental trajectories across the lifespan, with a concentration on how these interactions influence normal age-associated cognitive decline as well as risk for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, she is interested in understanding how sex differences in the cognitive-enhancing ability of exercise training are related to hormones and genotype. Cindy received a PhD in Behavioural Neuroscience from the University of British Columbia and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University. She is currently supported by a fellowship from CIHR and a joint fellowship from MSFHR and the Pacific Alzheimer Research Foundation (PARF).

PhD Students

Liang Hsu

Research Interest: Exercise and cognition, functional connectivity
Research project: Investigating the differences in brain functional connectivity between senior fallers and non-fallers
Contact: liang.hsu [at] hiphealth [dot] ca



Elizabeth Dao

Liz is currently a Master’s student in the Rehabilitation Sciences Graduate Program supervised by Teresa Liu-Ambrose and Robin Hsiung.  Previously she earned her BA in psychology where her work investigated the role of mind wandering in task related attentional responses. Liz has also done work looking at the effect of transcranial magnetic stimulation on motor learning and motor recovery in people with stroke.  Her current research will focus on the prevalence of mixed AD and the effect of exercise in people with vascular cognitive impairment.
Contact: lizdao [at] hiphealth [dot] ca

Lisanne ten Brinke

Lisanne ten Brinke is a PhD Student in the Rehabilitation Sciences program and is supervised by Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose. She completed her B.Sc. in Human Movement Sciences at the University of Groningen and her M.Sc. in Biology of Human Performance and Health at Maastricht University, both located in the Netherlands. During her masters, she did an exchange program at the University of British Columbia under the supervision of Teresa Liu-Ambrose. She looked at the influence of exercise (aerobic and resistance exercise) on hippocampal volume.
Contact: lisanne [dot] tenbrinke [at] ubc [dot] ca

Ryan Falck

Ryan Falck is a PhD Student of Rehabilitative Sciences. He previously earned his MSc in exercise science from the University of South Carolina working under Dr. Sara Wilcox. His thesis work focused on the effects of a community-based walking program on cognitive function in older adults. He has also spent time working for the Energy Balance Study under principle investigators Dr. Steven Blair and Dr. Gregory Hand. A former collegiate strength and conditioning coach, he is interested in the effects of different intensities, frequencies and modalities on the cognitive function of older adults.
Contact: Ryan [dot] Falck [at] hiphealth [dot] ca

Master’s Students

Tracy Dignum
B.Sc.(PT), M.Ed.

Tracy Dignum is a Master’s student in Rehabilitation Science under the supervision of Dr. Liu-Ambrose. Tracy’s research looks at the impact of mindful meditation on mobility and cognitive outcomes among older adults at risk for falls. Tracy received her BSc in Physical Therapy from Queen’s University and her Master of Education from Memorial University. She has extensive clinical experience in public and private physiotherapy practice and has also devoted much of her career to the education of rehabilitation assistants at Capilano University. Tracy is a mother of three and is passionate about running, yoga and the benefits of mindful living. Webpage:

Visiting Scholars

Alfonso Joseph Alfini

Alfonso is a fourth year Ph.D. student working with Dr. J. Carson Smith in the Exercise for Brain Health Laboratory at the University of Maryland (UMD), College Park. His previous research has investigated the impact of acute/chronic exercise and exercise cessation on cerebral blood flow and cognition in older adults. He was awarded the UMD Whitlark Fellowship and has come to the University of British Columbia to work with Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose in the Aging, Mobility, and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory.He has a particular interest in the interactive effect of sleep and exercise on brain function and the versatility and expertise of Dr. Liu-Ambrose’s laboratory offers him the unique opportunity to measure these variables. The skills he acquires while here will provide him the necessary tools to complete his dissertation research.

Hyuma Makizako

Hyuma Makizako, PhD, was a postdoctoral fellow working under the supervision of Dr.Teresa Liu-Ambrose. Hyuma is currently a research fellow and is working at the National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology in Japan. Hyuma has examined the association of daily physical activity with memory and brain volume, especially hippocampus while he was in the Aging, Mobility and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory. Hyuma and his co-workers now conduct a randomized controlled trial investigating the effects of non-pharmacological intervention (e.g., physical exercise) in brain health among elderly at high-risk of dementia, such as mild cognitive impairment in Japan.
Contact: hyuma.wsd [at] gmail [dot] com

Willem J.R. Bossers

Willem got his M.Sc. in 2009 in Human Movement Sciences at the University of Groningen. In 2010 he started as a PhD student at the University of Groningen and University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG). The research project he is working on looks at the cognitive (executive functions and memory) and physical (endurance capacity, mobility, muscle strength, and balance) effects of a combined aerobic and resistance exercise program in institutionalized elderly with dementia. Furthermore, effects on Activities of Daily Living, quality of life, and healthcare burden are a focus of his study. His PhD research project is finished in February 2014 and is financially supported by the UMCG and Fonds NutsOhra.

Currently, Willem is performing a research project with PhD student Niousha Bolandzadeh M.Sc. to investigate the mediating effects of the amount of Gray Matter Volume on the relationship of improved cognition via targeted exercise training.

Contact: w.j.r.bossers [at] umcg [dot] nl

Research Coordinators

Michelle Munkacsy

Michelle completed her Bachelors of Science in Movement Science from the University of Michigan, and her Masters in Human Kinetics at the University of British Columbia. In the Aging, Mobility, and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, Michelle is currently working on the CogMob Study and the Promote Study. In addition, Michelle assists in the VGH Falls Prevention Clinic.
In her spare time, she enjoys any activities in the outdoors, including hiking, kayaking, skiing, and rock climbing.
Email: michelle.munkacsy [at] hiphealth [dot] ca


Research Assistants

Winnie Cheung

Winnie Cheung recently completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and is now working with the Promote Study team as a research assistant. Winnie is exploring different options in the health field and plans to return to school to pursue her study in Physiotherapy. Her interest includes cooking, dancing, and rock climbing.

Wency Chan

Wency completed her bachelors of science at the University of British Columbia in Biochemistry. Currently, she is working in the Aging, Mobility, and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab assisting with the Action Seniors! Study alongside various other projects. She plans on returning to school to pursue a career in health care. In her spare time, Wency enjoys cycling, volunteering in her community and traveling.

Christopher Lim

Chris completed his bachelors of kinesiology at the University of British Columbia. At the Aging, Mobility, and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, he is coordinating the CogMob study through recruitment and assessments. He hopes to return to school to pursue a career in health care. In his spare time, Chris enjoys climbing, hiking, swimming, slacklining, running, and anything else that can take him outdoors!



Shirley Wang

Shirley completed her Bachelors of Science in Biology and will be starting her Master of Physical Therapy at UBC. In the Aging, Mobility, and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, Shirley helps as a research assistant in the Promote Study data analysis. In her spare time, Shirley likes to climb, hike, swim, slackline, run, and anything else that can take her outdoors!


Bryan Chiu

Bryan is an undergraduate student studying a combined major in Computer Science and Physics. His current research interests lie in detecting subtle changes in behaviours and cognition long before the onset of cognitive impairments. He is also currently working on utilizing High-Performance Computing to process neuroimaging data from large-scale neuroimaging studies. He plays an ongoing role in the structural neuroimaging processing from multiple studies and has also worked on analysis of data from the Artinis fNIRS system and the MotionWatch 8.
In his spare time, Bryan enjoys listening to music, weightlifting and cycling.

Joseph Liu

Joseph is a motivated and ambitious undergraduate student pursuing his Bachelors of Commerce. He has a wide range of academic interests and aspires to find a career in either business or medicine in the future. Joseph is currently an academic assistant for the VCI study under the supervision of Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose. His hobbies include basketball, playing the violin, and watching movies.



Lindsay Nagamatsu

Lindsay Nagamatsu completed her PhD in Psychology in 2013 under the supervision of Drs. Todd Handy and Teresa Liu-Ambrose. Her research focuses on understanding cognitive issues associated with falls in older adults. Specifically, she has examined the role that impaired visual-spatial attention and executive functioning play in falls risk. In addition, Lindsay is involved in research looking at how exercise training can improve executive cognitive functioning in older adults. Both lines of research use neuroimaging techniques (EEG and fMRI) to examine brain function. Lindsay is currently a Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) funded postdoctoral fellow and is working with Dr. Arthur Kramer at the University of Illinois.
Contact: lindsay [at] psych [dot] ubc [dot] ca

Mika Johnson

Mika graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Master’s of Science in Human Kinetics. While there she investigated cardiovascular disease prevention through physical activity, and the role of the built environment in physical activity promotion.
At the Aging, Mobility and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory Mika assisted the CogMob Study, investigating the role of cognitive function on the risk of falling. In addition to her role within the Aging, Mobility and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, Mika acted as an assistant to the Geriatricians at the Falls Prevention Clinic, and as a Research Assistant to the Action Seniors! investigation, a randomized control trial investigating the effect of a home delivered strength and balance retraining program in reducing falls among frail seniors.
When not at the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, Mika can be found experimenting in the kitchen, exploring Vancouver’s food scene, or playing a game of soccer.

Nader Fallah

Nader Fallah, PhD, was a postdoctoral fellow working under the supervision of Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose. Nader has a B.Sc. in Statistics, M.Sc. in Biostatistics and PhD in Biostatistics at Tehran University of Medical Sciences. Nader first became interested in research related to Alzheimer disease and exercise during his time as a PhD student visitor at Dalhousie University in 2007. In July 2008, upon completion of his PhD, he continued his work at Dalhousie University as a Postdoctoral fellow. He engaged in analyses of several national and international aging and cognition longitudinal datasets in order to develop risk profiles for people living with Alzheimer disease and related dementias. He contributed new models in artificial neural networks and multi-state transition models. He hopes to understand the relationship between cognition change and exercise by using novel statistical models in clinical trial data.

During his free time, Nader enjoys hiking, climbing, swimming and reading history.

Contact: nader.fallah [at] ubc [dot] ca

Danielle Boyd

Danielle completed her Bachelor of Human Kinetics at UBC with a minor in Commerce. She was the research coordinator for the ActionSeniors! research project investigating a home delivered exercise program and its effectiveness on reducing falls in seniors. Danielle is very interested in health promotion and hopes to one day pursue a career in public health or physiotherapy. Danielle is an avid snowboarder, wakeboarder and surfer and can also be found on the soccer pitch or in the hot yoga room.


Ning Nelly Tai

Nelly majored in Psychology and received her Bachelor of Arts from University of British Columbia. Her research interests included chronic health risks, healthy cognitive aging and mental health. Nelly worked alongside her fabulous colleagues and research participants in the Promote Study, a research program that brings together exercise and nutrition for people with cognitive health concerns. She loved her job and hoped to continue similar veins of research in graduate school.

During her free time, you’ll find Nelly foraging for vegan goodies at Choices and Whole Foods, yoga-ing in Kits, jogging around False Creek, and enjoying one of Vancouver’s many exciting community festivals.

Contact: Nelly.tai [at] hiphealth [dot] ca Tel: 604-875-4111 ext. 68562

Sanford Kong


Jessica Rogers

In 2010, Jessica Rogers graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor’s degree in Human Kinetics. With the hopes of pursuing a career in medicine, Jessica is currently completing her second undergraduate degree in Food, Nutrition and Health.
Currently, at the Aging, Mobility and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, Jessica is overseeing a study focused on evaluating health resource utilization and Patient Reported Outcome Measures — patients self-perceived health status – among older adults who attend a Falls Prevention Clinic. In addition, Jessica continues to be involved in various studies examining the relationship between exercise and cognition. During her free time, Jessica loves to snowboard, surf, do yoga, exercise and bake.

Caitlin Gomez

Caitlin Gomez recently completed a Bachelor’s degree in Human Kinetics at UBC, focusing on Kinesiology and Health Sciences. She is a Geriatrician Assistant at the Falls Prevention Clinic at Vancouver General Hospital, where she also serves as the Clinic Coordinator. Caitlin is interested in Medicine, and hopes to pursue a career in Pediatric Psychiatry or Emergency Medicine.



Devika Sharma

In 2007 Devika graduated from Simon Fraser University with a Bachelors of Science in Biology and a Health and Fitness certificate. Her interest in health and nutrition grew vastly during her final year of her undergraduate, which encouraged her to apply to the Dietetics program at the University of British Columbia. She currently is in the fourth year of the program and hopes to eventually open her own practice.
While working as a research assistant at the Aging, Mobility and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, Devika has had the opportunity to be involved in various studies that have examined the relationship between exercise and cognition. She currently is investigating the relationship between vitamin D and executive cognitive performance in senior women. As an advocate for healthy mind, body and soul, Devika loves to read, exercise, watch hockey and bake.

Contact: devika.sharma [at] hiphealth [dot] ca

Sandy Gill

Sandy has worked with Dr. Jennifer Davis on the COHORT and PROMOTE studies. She has also worked on CogMob andExcel Study!, and has assisted in the fall’s clinic. Currently, she is planning to explore many facets of the health field, and is planning to return to school. Her hobbies include reading, running, doing yoga, dancing and volunteering.


Niousha Bolandzadeh

Niousha Bolandzadeh did her PhD in Experimental Medicine in the faculty of Medicine. She is a recipient of 2012 Heart and Stroke Foundation PhD award, as well as neuroimaging memorial awards of “Louise McGregor” and the “Omer Patrick II Memorial Prize”.

Niousha has got her M.Sc. and B.Sc. in Computer Science from University of Alberta and Sharif University of Technology. Her PhD research focused on investigating the effect of white matter hyperintensities on cognitive and physical functions in older adults, and the beneficial effect of targeted exercise training on the progression of these lesions. Her research is spotlighted in Faculty of Medicine website.

Her technical interests include Machine Learning and Statistical Modelling, and her clinical interests include Alzheimer’s Disease and White Matter Lesions. She has worked with different imaging modalities of fMRI, MRI, CT, CBCT, and Photogrammetry.

Contact: niousha [at] interchange [dot] ubc [dot] ca
PhD Homepage:
She is currently the founder and CEO at Brite Health

Alison Chan

Alison Chan is the research coordinator for Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose’s lab. She is currently overseeing the CogMob Study which investigates whether multiple falls is an early indication of cognitive dysfunction. Alison is also a geriatrician assistant at the VGH Falls Prevention Clinic where she assesses the falls risk of seniors on a physical and cognitive level. If you would like more information on studies currently being conducted in the Aging, Mobility and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, you can contact Alison at 604-875-4111 ext. 69056.


Kelly Vertes

Kelly Vertes received a Bachelor of Science and Masters of Arts degree at the University of Ottawa in Human Kinetics. Her research, funded by the Ontario Graduate Scholarship and SSHRC, in the areas of Motor Learning and Sport Psychology focused on how observational learning and self-control improve the acquisition of motor skills as well as an athlete’s competitive performance. After the completion of graduate school, Kelly relocated to Vancouver, where she now works as the Clinical and Research Coordinator at the Falls Prevention Clinic.
Outside of the clinic, Kelly enjoys spending time outdoors, playing volleyball, and walking her dog along the seawall.
Email: kelly.vertes [at] hiphealth [dot] ca