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Cognitive impairment research to investigate genetic causes

Vancouver, BC – British Columbia’s provincial government is investing $1.6 million in a national research project, led by the University of British Columbia, investigating the genetic cause of cognitive impairment or intellectual disability. The Canadian Molecular Cytogenetics Platform will have 18 centres nationally.

Intellectual disability has a life-long affect on more than 300,000 Canadians. Abnormalities of the chromosomes, the package of genes within cells, are the most frequently recognized cause, but further research is required to fully understand this disability.

“The research supported by the Canadian Molecular Cytogenetics Platform will enable researchers to develop and apply innovative molecular cytogenetics technologies in order to pinpoint the cause of intellectual disability,” said Ida Chong, the province’s minister of advanced education.

Provincial funding will help to establish four major platform resources in BC. In addition, two of the platform’s clinical contributing centres will be located in the province, and three of the platform’s seven initial national projects are led by BC investigators. UBC researchers located at the BC Research Institute for Children’s and Women’s Health will work with colleagues at BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre, one of the university’s clinical academic centres.

“Development and implementation of advanced molecular cytogenetic technologies will benefit children with intellectual disability, their families, and pregnant women who are at risk of having children with mental abnormalities,” says Martha Piper, UBC president. “No research program of comparable national scope devoted to understanding constitutional chromosomal abnormalities exists anywhere else in the world.”