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Largest grants of their kind in Canada to allow researchers to study brain’s ability to repair itself

OTTAWA, November 25, 2004 - The Honourable Robert G. Thibault, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health on behalf of the Honourable Ujjal Dosanjh, Minister of Health, and NeuroScience Canada and its Brain Repair Program™, will recognize the recipients of three grants of $1.5 million each for the study of brain repair at an official presentation ceremony in Ottawa. Building on the knowledge that the brain has an innate ability to be repaired or repair itself, this research will use the latest innovations in science to explore means of enhancing this ability. It is believed that discoveries will lead to new treatments and therapies for a wide range of diseases, disorders and injuries of the brain and nervous system, including Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, chronic pain, schizophrenia and autism. Each team will receive an additional $60,000 over three years for networking. NeuroScience Canada is a national non-profit organization that develops and funds Canadian neuroscience research that meets the highest standards of excellence.

Also present at the announcement will be Ms. Inez Jabalpurwala, President of NeuroScience Canada, and Dr. Rémi Quirion, Scientific Director of the Institutes of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction (INMHA) of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the major partner on the Brain Repair Program™. The CIHR and its Institutes, the INMHA and Institute of Aging, provided a $1.5-million grant and strategic input. Donors and grantors include RBC Financial Group Foundation, CIBC World Markets, UBS Securities Canada, Inc., the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation, and a number of other corporations, foundations and private individual donors, including an anonymous donor (now deceased) who provided a $1.2-million challenge gift.

“I commend NeuroScience Canada and their partners and donors for this outstanding research initiative. These teams and the projects they will pursue represent some of the best health researchers and research on the globe,” says Mr. Robert Thibault. “I am proud that Canada is supporting such excellent research that will ultimately benefit Canadians and the Canadian health system.”

The grants have been awarded to teams led by the following researchers:

  1. Dr. Freda Miller, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto for their work on
    Novel approaches to central nervous system white matter repair
  2. Dr. Michael W. Salter, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto for their work on
    Transforming research on chronic pain in Canada
  3. Dr. Yu Tian Wang, University of British Columbia/Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, Brain Research Centre at UBC Hospital, for their work on
    Novel therapeutic strategies to repair brain abnormalities in psychiatric disorders

These projects were chosen after a rigorous eight-month selection process, involving the participation of internationally recognized experts from the United States and Europe who unanimously agreed the projects had a high potential for achieving breakthroughs. In commenting on the grants, The Honourable Michael H. Wilson, Chair of NeuroScience Canada, says, “NeuroScience Canada developed the Brain Repair Program™ with the goal of giving our world-class Canadian neuroscience researchers every opportunity to get to breakthroughs, so that we can alleviate the human, economic and societal costs of brain disorders. The program is part of NeuroScience Canada’s commitment to increasing the funding available for brain research. We thank our donors, partners and other supporters for their valued contributions.”

CIHR President Dr. Alan Bernstein says, "The research projects announced today illustrate CIHR’s commitment to building health research capacity in Canada and will bring new insights into the mechanisms of brain disorders and ultimately benefit those who suffer." Dr. Quirion says, "The Brain Repair Program™ is unique in the world and INMHA hopes that other organizations will consider this model to partner with us to foster excellence and innovation in neuroscience and mental health research in Canada. The first three teams to be funded are all internationally recognized as leaders in their respective fields. It should open new avenues for treatments of neurological and psychiatric disorders and chronic pain.”

Brain and nervous system disorders affect one in five Canadians and are among the leading causes of death in this country and are the leading cause of disability. Half of all Canadians have had a brain disorder affect their family. Health Canada has conservatively evaluated the economic burden of these disorders at $22.7 billion. This figure does not take into account the many individuals who are not diagnosed or do not access the health care system. Costs are expected to rise dramatically as the population ages.

The Brain Repair Program™ was developed by NeuroScience Canada’s Science Advisory Council, comprised of prominent Canadian neuroscience researchers and clinicians, in consultation with a broad group of stakeholders, including the CIHR, provincial agencies, universities, research institutes and voluntary health organizations. The $4.5 million in grants is part of an $8-million Brain Repair Program™ goal. Funds for this program are raised in the context of NeuroScience Canada’s $10-million campaign to support Canada’s world-class neuroscience researchers. Two additional teams will be funded as soon as donor and partner funds are secured.

About NeuroScience Canada
Founded in 1998 with the mission of bringing relief and hope to the millions of Canadians who are challenged by neurological and psychiatric diseases, disorders and injuries, NeuroScience Canada funds researchers who are investigating the mechanisms that protect and repair the brain and nervous system. To support its activities, NeuroScience Canada seeks donations from individuals, corporations and foundations, then leverages these gifts with funding from government and other voluntary health organizations. Of all funds raised, 85 percent is directed to research.

NeuroScience Canada’s chair is former finance minister The Honourable Michael H. Wilson. The Science Advisory Council chair is Dr. David Kaplan, Head, Cancer Research at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and Canada Research Chair in Cancer and Neuroscience.

About CIHR
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research is the government of Canada's agency for health research. Its objective is to excel, according to internationally accepted standards of scientific excellence, in the creation of new knowledge and its translation into improved health for Canadians, more effective health services and products and a strengthened Canadian health care system. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 9,000 researchers and research teams in every province of Canada.

CIHR’s Institute of Aging supports research to promote healthy aging and to address causes, prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, support systems, and palliation for a wide range of conditions associated with aging.

CIHR's Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction supports research to enhance mental health, neurological health, vision, hearing, and cognitive functioning and to reduce the burden of related disorders through prevention strategies, screening, diagnosis, treatment, support systems, and palliation. Associated research will advance our understanding of human thought, emotion, behaviour, sensation (sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell), perception, learning and memory.



Inez Jabalpurwala, President
NeuroScience Canada
Tel: (514) 989-2989

Janet Weichel
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Tel: (613) 941-4563
Cell: (613) 447-4794

Adèle Blanchard,
Office of the Honourable Ujjal Dosanjh
(613) 957-0200


Laura Greer, Manager, Public Affairs
The Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute
Tel: (416) 813-5046

Hilary Thomson, Senior Communications Co-ordinator
UBC Public Affairs Office
Tel: (604) 822-2644
Cell: (604) 209-3048