Brain Canada is pleased to announce the awarding of a 2019 Platform Support Grant (PSG) to a multidisciplinary research team co-led by Dr. Alexander Thiel of the Jewish General Hospital, Dr. Jodi Edwards of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute and Dr. Numa Dancause of the Université de Montréal. Together, Brain Canada and the Heart & Stroke Foundation Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery (CPSR) are awarding $1,900,000 to support the Canadian Platform for Research in Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation (CanStim), a national network that will accelerate discovery and move new research into clinical practice.

Brain Canada’s Platform Support Grants are awarded to teams that are creating and/or enhancing centralized shared resources to increase access to equipment, expertise, data and protocols across research networks. Brain Canada will announce additional Platform Support Grants in the coming weeks, as part of a more than $25 million investment in brain research.

“By investing in platforms that will allow research resources to be shared, we are not only fostering interdisciplinary collaboration, but also enabling science to move at a much quicker pace,” says Dr. Viviane Poupon, Brain Canada President and CEO.

CanStim features a unique translational approach towards stroke rehabilitation and recovery research by integrating pre-clinical and clinical research from the project inception. The platform will provide the necessary research capacity in non-invasive brain stimulation methods, such as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), to develop and optimize novel approaches for people living with stroke disabilities and other neurological disorders. Additionally, CanStim will provide opportunities to trainees across Canada to explore new interdisciplinary approaches to studying stroke recovery.

“While rTMS shows promise of becoming an effective option for enhancing rehabilitation in stroke survivors, clinical trial data are needed to establish the effectiveness before it can be adopted into routine clinical practice,” explains Dr. Thiel, clinical neurologist at the Jewish General Hospital and Senior Investigator at the Lady Davis Institute. “To date, few stroke rehabilitation clinical trials have used rTMS due to either a lack of consensus about the optimal parameters to use in stroke survivors, varying protocols, or the absence of a national platform to facilitate use.”

Platforms play a crucial role in high-impact research. Making cutting-edge equipment, technologies and services accessible to a wider community is an essential component for addressing the evolving needs of research.

“New technologies like brain stimulation hold so much promise for people recovering from stroke,” says Katie Lafferty, CEO of the CPSR. “It’s very exciting to have a national effort of this scale focused on this new approach.”

This Project has been made possible with the financial support of Health Canada, through the Canada Brain Research Fund, an innovative partnership between the Government of Canada (through Health Canada) and Brain Canada, and Heart & Stroke Foundation Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery (CPSR) and Le Réseau Provincial de Recherche en Adaptation-Réadaptation (REPAR).