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The Honourable Michael H. Wilson to announce NeuroScience Canada's $8-million program for brain repair research

MONTREAL, Nov. 20 /CNW Telbec/ - NeuroScience Canada, a non-profit organization that promotes the advancement of brain research, is launching an 8 million dollar Brain Repair Program. Former federal finance minister, the Honourable Michael H. Wilson, Chair of NeuroScience Canada, will make the announcement during a keynote address. The speech will be presented at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction Annual General Meeting on Saturday, November the 22nd in Toronto (see below for location and time).

The Brain Repair Program will provide funding for research teams who focus on finding ways to enhance the brain's ability to be repaired or to repair itself. Neurological and psychiatric (brain) disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, chronic pain, brain tumours, depression, schizophrenia, autism and addictions affect some four million Canadians. Half of all Canadians have had a brain disorder affect their family.

Brain disorders are among the leading causes of death in this country (along with cancer and heart disease) and they represent the leading cause of disability. Health Canada has conservatively evaluated the economic burden of these disorders at $22.7 billion. However, this figure does not take into account, for instance, the large number of individuals who are not diagnosed and/or do not go through the healthcare system. Costs are expected to rise dramatically as the population ages.

NeuroScience Canada was founded in 1997 with the goal of working with other voluntary health organizations and with government to foster the development and financing of collaborative, multi-disciplinary research and development across the full range of neurosciences, and to fill the need for a strong non-governmental voice for the neurosciences.

NeuroScience Canada represents the functional integration of the NeuroScience Canada Partnership (a national, non-profit organization) and the NeuroScience Canada Foundation (a registered charity).

The Brain Repair Program was developed by NeuroScience Canada's Science Advisory Council and is part of a $10-million campaign to support Canada's world-class neuroscience researchers across disciplines and institutions. The mission of the program is to fast-track basic discovery research in order to develop treatments and therapies more quickly.

"We want to give our researchers every opportunity to make breakthroughs, so that we can alleviate the human, economic and societal costs of brain disorders," says Mr. Wilson.

"CIHR is proud to be a collaborator in the Brain Repair Program initiative," says Dr. Alan Bernstein, President of CIHR. "The research that will be made possible through this collaboration will bring new insights into the mechanisms of brain disorders and ultimately benefit those who suffer." "Supporting the Brain Repair Program fosters excellence and innovation in brain research in Canada," says Dr. Remi Quirion, Scientific Director of CIHR's Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction. "Canada is a world leader in brain research and we plan to continue to lead the way. It is a pleasure to partner with Neuroscience Canada for this important initiative." The Brain Repair Program is being launched with funding provided by private donors and by the CIHR and its Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction and Institute of Aging. Initially, two teams will receive $1.5 million in equal annual instalments over three years with additional funding for networking. Three teams will be added as further funding is secured. The first teams will be identified at the end of June 2004.