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Five brain research teams awarded $1.5M grants


Toronto ON – Five teams comprised of researchers from among Canada’s top medical and research institutes are the first to be funded through the W. Garfield Weston Foundation – Brain Canada Multi-Investigator Research Initiative (MIRI). The teams, each of which will receive $1.5 million over three years, were chosen following a two-phase international peer review from over 165 applications. Each team is pursuing novel, transformative research aimed at improving our understanding of human nervous system function and dysfunction.

“The human brain is an interconnected, dynamic and highly adaptable system, which is why our organization supports a ‘one system’ collaborative approach to brain research,” said Inez Jabalpurwala, president and CEO of Brain Canada. “Thanks to the catalytic leadership of the W. Garfield Weston Foundation, Brain Canada was able to launch the first MIRI competition, shortly after the launch of the Canada Brain Research Fund.”

The five projects include:

– A team led by Dr. Sandra Black, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, will focus on validating an eye test to help early detection of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and frontotemporal dementia;

– A team led by Dr. Michel Cayouette, Institut de Recherches Cliniques de Montréal will explore brain cell polarity and how it helps to build and maintain the brain as an underlying cause of neurological disorders;

– A team led by Dr. Michael Meaney, McGill University, will investigate how environmental factors alter the function of genes to identify potential biomarkers for mental illness;;

– A team led by Dr. Freda Miller, Hospital for Sick Children will work on mobilizing stem cells in the brain to treat brain injury in children; and,

– A team led by Dr. Valerie Wallace, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. will investigate reprogramming of skin cells to restore visual function in diseases such as age-related macular degeneration.

The $7.5 million grant total includes $3 million from the W. Garfield Weston Foundation and a matching $3 million from the federal government through the Canada Brain Research Fund. The remainder is being provided by the Krembil Foundation and other donors.