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When great minds come together

When great minds come together

Jim and Louise Temerty’s $5-million gift offers hope to millions affected by neurodegenerative disorders

by Christine Ward, BA'89

Jim Temerty’s passion for neurodegenerative disease research began two decades ago when his mother passed away from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). “Right from that time on,” he said, “I started to look for opportunities to support research. That’s where it started and it has continued to this day.”

The founder and chairman of Northland Power Inc. and his wife, Louise Temerty, donated $5 million to the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry to advance discoveries in the prevention, early detection and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases like ALS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Their gift, which leverages Ontario Brain Institute matching funds, will support a five-year study led by Schulich Medicine & Dentistry’s Dean, Dr. Michael J. Strong, principal investigator of the Ontario Neurodegenerative Disease Research Initiative and one of Canada’s leading ALS researchers.

“Our ultimate goal is to determine if, by studying the disease as a component of a larger whole, we can develop early treatment strategies long before the disease fully takes hold,” explained Dr. Strong.

One in three Canadians will be affected by a neurological or psychiatric disease, disorder or injury during their lifetime. Although extensive neurodegenerative disease research is underway around the world, Dr. Strong describes Western’s study as unique. “Never before, either here or worldwide, have experts in seemingly diverse diseases come together into a single collaboration to understand the basis, commonalities and distinguishing characteristics of these devastating disorders.”

It’s an approach that has Temerty brimming with passion about the potential multiplying effect. “We were quite taken by this idea. We felt we had to support it.”