Dean Strong to lead provincial research project

Friday, March 8, 2013

Dean Michael Strong will lead a new neurodegenerative diseases research project which will unite clinician researchers and basic scientists from across Ontario to tackle one of the leading drivers of health care cost and reduced quality of life for our aging population, namely brain disorders that lead to impairments in memory and cognition. The project is expected to receive $15 million from the Ontario Brain Institute (OBI) over the next five years, along with $5 million from other sources to bring the total funding to $20 million.

Never before, either here or world-wide, have experts in seemingly diverse diseases such as Vascular Cognitive Impairment (VCI), Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD), Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration (FTLD) or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) come together into a single collaboration to understand the bases, commonalities, and distinguishing characteristics of these devastating disorders. The project will study the contribution of vascular disease to each of these disorders, focusing on defining the earliest markers of cognitive change and in doing so, will develop and evaluate proactive treatment strategies.

The Honourable Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-term Care, and Deputy Premier, made the announcement at the Robarts Research Institute. The Ontario government has pledged $100 million over five years to the Ontario Brain Institute, and this is one of the projects that will receive new funding as a result. Minister Matthews also praised Schulich Medicine & Dentistry's Dr. Rob Nicolson for his autism research and Dr. Jorge Burneo for his epilepsy research, two projects which will continue to receive funding through the OBI.

Neurodegenerative disorders are expected to be the single greatest cost pressure for governments world-wide as the baby-boomers reach the critical time for the development of these diseases. It is estimated that a single reduction by 1% in the prevalence of AD alone, or a slowing in the rate of disease progression, will save billions of dollars in health care expenditures and lost productivity for primary care-givers, which is why this new neurodegenerative disorders research is so critical.