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Women’s Brain Health Initiative and Brain Canada join forces to fund sex and gender considerations in brain research

CBRF News, News March 08, 2022

Six Canadian research teams have been awarded funding for the implementation and/or continuation of sex and gender considerations in research on aging, neurodegeneration, and stroke

Women’s Brain Health Initiative (WBHI) and Brain Canada are pleased to announce that six exceptional research teams have been selected to receive a funding boost of $105,000 each through the Brain Canada-WBHI Expansion Grants: Considering Sex and Gender Program​. With a total envelop of $630 000, this program provides previously funded researchers with support to either add a sex and/or gender component to their research project that did not previously consider these factors or enhance their existing efforts to include sex and/or gender components in their work.

“This program plays a pivotal role in helping to address the research disparity when it comes to women’s brain health. Women suffer from depression, stroke, and dementia twice as much as men as we age, and almost 70 per cent of those with Alzheimer’s are women. By incentivizing gender-based research, we can combat brain-aging diseases that disproportionately affect women,” says Lynn Posluns, Founder and President of Women’s Brain Health Initiative.

“This partnership is not just about funding — it's a call to action for gender equity in scientific research. Congratulations to this group of neuroscientists who are making their research more inclusive - and ultimately more relevant - by studying sex and gender differences.”

The research community has become increasingly aware of the differences between men and women when it comes to their risk of developing diseases, and how they respond to treatment. The Brain Canada-WBHI Expansion Grants Program is helping scientists overcome barriers in research and create a foundation for sex and gender considerations to become standard practice. The selected projects are:

  • EMPOW-HER: Exploring methods to improve participation of women in clinical trials to help enhance stroke recovery research - team led by Mark Bayley, University Health Network (UHN)
  • Sex differences in the innate immune response associated with Parkinson’s Disease​ - team led by Janelle Drouin-Ouellet, Université de Montréal
  • CanStim Platform: Sex and gender-based analysis expansion​ - team led by Jodi Edwards, University of Ottawa Heart Institute
  • Brain and cognitive effects of long-term gender affirming hormone therapy in aging trans women​ - team led by Gillian Einstein, University of Toronto
  • Functional Connectivity and Cognitive Decline in a Mouse Model of Alzheimer’s Disease​ - team led by Jonathan Epp, University of Calgary
  • Sex-Differences in Dopaminergic Regulation of Stroke Recovery in Rats​ – team led by Christian Ethier, Université Laval

“It is critical to support research that examines health differences between men, women, and gender-diverse individuals. Time and time again, studies have shown that significant differences do, in fact, exist between males and females in many areas of health care,” says Dr. Viviane Poupon, President and CEO of Brain Canada. “We are very proud to partner with Women’s Brain Health Initiative to support research that is filling this gap.” 

Funding for the Brain Canada-WBHI Expansion Grant: Considering Sex and Gender Program has been made possible by WBHI's annual Stand Ahead Challenge fundraising campaign, and through the Canada Brain Research Fund (CBRF), an innovative arrangement between the Government of Canada (through Health Canada) and Brain Canada. To date, Health Canada has invested over $130 million through the CBRF which has been matched by Brain Canada and its donors and partners.