January 29, 2021 – Today, Brain Canada and Heart & Stroke announced that they have partnered to launch an innovative $6 million multi-disciplinary research competition in March 2021 called the Heart-Brain Connection IMPACT Award.  

This competition will enable breakthroughs in research to reduce risks, prevent heart disease, stroke and cognitive decline, improve treatment and support recovery. By supporting teams across disciplines, institutions and career phases, this research will generate powerful insight into the heart-brain connection and impact the entire scope of health research. 

“Real change happens when experts from different backgrounds come together to innovate,” says Doug Roth, CEO of Heart & Stroke. “By taking this approach, we will accelerate a much-needed shift around how we explore heart disease and brain disorders and ultimately help address the profound impact these diseases have on people’s lives and the health system.”

One person dies in Canada every five minutes from heart disease, stroke or vascular cognitive impairment. This outpaces other diseases; 13 per cent more people die of heart-brain related conditions than from all cancers combined.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on many Canadians, including those living with heart and brain diseases,” says Dr. Viviane Poupon, President and CEO of Brain Canada. “Looking at these diseases together is a critical step towards building a greater understanding of the heart and brain connection and ultimately improving health outcomes for all people in Canada.”

The heart and brain are so inextricably connected that developing one condition often means being at risk of developing others. For example, people with heart failure have triple the risk of stroke. Vascular brain injuries, like strokes, can be directly linked to increased risk of cognitive decline, and vascular dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

The Heart-Brain Connection IMPACT Award will fund two teams who successfully bring together researchers from three of the four following themes – biomedical research; clinical research; health services research; and social, cultural, environment and population health research. As such, heart, stroke and brain health researchers may work with engineers, data scientists, sociologists or industrial designers.

Funding for the Heart-Brain Connection IMPACT Award 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, Canada’s leading health charity devoted to heart disease and stroke.