I AM KITE PROFILE: Tatyana Mollayeva

Monthly features to profile the next generation of rehab researchers

When Institute Director Dr. Milos R. Popovic introduced the KITE Research Institute to the world two years ago, he had one goal – to redefine and broaden the rehab-specific perception of our work. 

The I AM KITE campaign, launched in January, pays tribute to the diverse up-and-coming talent at KITE who are making a huge impact in the world of rehab science. 

Today we introduce Tatyana Mollayeva, a member of our Acquired Brain Injury & Society team. Her passion for researching neurological injuries and disorders, particularly dementia, sets her up for success to improve quality of life for patients.


NAME: Tatyana Mollayeva
EDUCATION: PhD in Rehabilitation Science and Neuroscience, University of Toronto; MD in Preventive Medicine, I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University, Russia
KITE Team: Acquired Brain Injury & Society
RESEARCH FOCUS: Dementia and traumatic brain injury

Tatyana Mollayeva is an Affiliate Scientist at the KITE Research Institute’s Acquired Brain Injury and Society Team and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.

She is from Western Ukraine and received her medical degree in preventive medicine from the I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University in Russia. She then studied for a specialization in infectious disease epidemiology at the Turkmen State Medical University in Turkmenistan. She practiced in the field of infectious disease prevention in Turkmenistan for several years before coming to Canada. Tatyana first worked at the Sleep and Alertness Clinic and in the insurance sector in Toronto before joining KITE. 

Her experiences in these roles prompted her to pursue doctoral studies in a subject which had been recurrent in her work: traumatic brain injury and sleep. During her doctoral and postdoctoral studies, she gained expertise on the topics of injury prevention, cognitive outcome assessments, and brain injury comorbidity. She is working to further progress her research in these topics to inform care for people with disabilities stemming from neurological injuries and disorders. 

Her contributions have been recognized internationally as she has received the 2015 Deborah L. Wilkerson Early Career Award from the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine, 2017 Elio Lugaresi Award for Education from the World Sleep Congress and 2019 Robert D. Voogt North American Brain Injury Society Founders Award.

In the future, Tatyana’s goal is to get funds to develop her own lab and to have the resources to further her research. She is currently proposing research programs to study what leads to dementia and the different factors post-diagnosis that affect a person’s experience with dementia and its progression. She believes sex, gender and other intersecting social factors are extremely important in these studies. Tatyana is looking forward to discovering important preventive interventions and ways to improve rehabilitation outcomes in those already diagnosed with dementia. She hopes to better understand the scope of the injuries and disorders she studies to improve the quality of life for patients. With her own lab, she will be able to train the next generation of researchers who can make further advancements in these important fields.

If Tatyana’s research could make one difference in the world overnight, it would be that people no longer develop dementia.

“The first time I entered the building, I felt at home. The set-up reminded me of the buildings where I studied medicine and the people were welcoming and cared about their work irrespective of their position,” Tatyana says about her first time at KITE. “I didn’t know anything about KITE when I started my doctoral studies and looking back, I am grateful that I was able to join the Acquired Brain Injury and Society team and receive guidance from my supervisor Dr. Colantonio,” Tatyana says.

“The I AM KITE video reminded me of the amazing community I am a part of – the scientists I get to work alongside who are leaders in their fields,” Tatyana says. She notes that the video reminds her of the importance of rehabilitation and the purpose of KITE’s work. “It also makes me proud to see how innovative KITE is,” Tatyana says. “It was meaningful to see how our different streams of study fit together and can make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities.”

In her spare time, Tatyana goes running with her son to spend quality time with him and get exercise. She enjoys being outside in nature because it reminds her of how big the natural world is, which puts into perspective small, everyday obstacles. Her secret talent is high speed cooking – in roughly 20 minutes she can make a five-person dinner from scratch. She enjoys cooking and having meals together with her family.