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A strong turnout and sense of enthusiasm filled the room at the Life Sciences Research Institute on December 16, for the BRC’s 3rd Annual Research and Poster Day. BRC Director, Dr. Victor Rafuse, set the stage by thanking the Nova Scotia government for its strong support of the BRC, and emphasized the importance of research to quality clinical care.

“When you talk to our clinician researchers, you see their passion for research and dedication to pushing the system forward,” Dr. Rafuse said. “Partnerships between basic scientists and clinicians are also crucial, to help us attract and retain the best talent here. It’s important to patients, the community and the economy.”

Research an important economic driver
Economic benefits of neuroscience research include the infusion of more than $9 million in outside funding to BRC members’ research programs each year. This is an important economic driver, as more than 70% of this funding goes to staff and trainee salaries and thus finds its way into the Nova Scotia economy. Translating research ideas into marketable health care innovations is another key economic driver – as Dr. Rafuse noted, the BRC has so far awarded six BRC Knowledge Translation Grants to members pursuing promising commercialization projects, among other grants.

The Honourable Bill Horne, MLA for Waverley-Fall River-Beaverbank, reiterated the government’s support for the BRC and voiced the need for stakeholders to work to together to realize the social and economic benefits of neuroscience research in Nova Scotia. “The NS government is ready to partner to change the economic game,” he said. “One of the priorities of the Ivany Report, for example, is to double the amount of research funding in the province.”

Dalhousie’s Dean of Medicine, Dr. Tom Marrie, acknowledged the progress the BRC has made over the past couple of years. At the same time, he reminded the audience of the increasingly tight competition for shrinking federal funds and the pressing need for expanded local sources of matching and bridging funds to ensure continued progress for medical research in the Maritimes. He encouraged people to support Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation, a long-time partner and vital source of local funding for researchers at the medical school.

Defining areas of research focus
Leading up to the BRC Research & Poster Day, members met to determine what will be the BRC’s key research areas going forward. Defining these areas provides focus and momentum. On the BRC research day, a representative of each group or cluster shared key developments and aims in each of the following research areas: aging, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, neurodegenerative disorder, neurodevelopment, stroke, vision/glaucoma. Click here to learn more about BRC's areas of research focus.

New initiatives in the community
The BRC and its members play an important role in leading and supporting community-based initiatives around brain health and quality of life for people living with brain diseases. Two speakers outlined goals and progress regarding two such initiatives.

Nova Scotia’s provincial dementia strategy – Dr. Melissa Andrew, an associate professor in Dalhousie’s Division of Geriatric Medicine, provided an overview of the fast-paced process underway in Nova Scotia to develop an effective approach to mitigating the impacts of rising dementia rates in the province. Several BRC members in addition to Dr. Andrew, including Dr. Kenneth Rockwood and Dr. Sultan Darvesh, are involved in developing a dementia strategy that will raise public awareness, increase early diagnosis, provide better support to families and care partners, inform health providers, coordinate health services, and advance research.

Brain Injury Transition House – Local community member Ken Nason, alongside long-time friend and brain-injury survivor Peter Covert, shared the story of Mr. Covert’s ongoing commitment to recovering from his injury, and his more recent inspiration to establish a transition house to meet the needs of brain-injured people following their discharge from rehabilitation. Mr. Nason presented his friend’s vision to the BRC, which threw its support behind the concept of a brain injury transition house that would provide housing, rehabilitation, education, skills development and vocational re-training to residents. The BRC assisted Mr. Nason and Mr. Covert in linking to others in the Dalhousie community, developing a plan, and taking it to the Nova Scotia government. The Minister of Health responded positively to the proposal, which is now set to become part of a larger initiative to develop a provincial strategy for supporting people with acquired brain injuries.

Poster display and competition
More than 25 posters filled the atrium of the Life Sciences Research Institute in the most successful BRC-sponsored poster day to date. Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows proudly displayed posters summarizing the findings of their studies, in such diverse topics as song-learning in finches and the physiology of the retina. The judges, Dr. Phil Nickerson, Dr. Saranyan Pillai, Dr. David Hopkins and Dr. Kazue Sembe, selected three winners who received cash prizes at the end of the evening. Ian MacDonald and Jasmyn Cunningham won first and second prize respectively. A new category, stressing oral presentation excellence, went to Drew DeBay.

First prize: Ian MacDonald, for “Visualizing Alzheimer Pathology with Cholinesterase Imaging Agents.” Supervisor: Dr. Sultan Darvesh

Second prize: Jasmyn Cunningham, for “Effects of Sleep Restriction on Components of Attention: Interim Results.” Supervisors: Dr. Benjamin Rusak and Dr. Gail Eskes

Excellence in oral presentation: Drew DeBay, for “Alternative Cerebral Glucose Uptake Metrics Detect Early Metabolic Changes in the 5XFAD Mouse Model of Alzheimer’s Disease.” Supervisor: Dr. Sultan Darvesh

Ontario Brain Institute head shares success story 
Dr. Donald Stuss, President & Scientific Director of the Ontario Brain Institute (OBI), shared the story of OBI's development, from its early "proof-of-principle" phase to its current form as a fully funded research institute embedded in Ontario's clinical system. OBI now involves some 200 researchers, 45 companies and 29 patient advocacy groups and service providers, working in partnership. Download Dr. Stuss' paper, published in 2014 in The Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences Inc., to learn more about the evolution and research priorities of the OBI.

 

 

 

Wednesday the 13th. © 2017. All rights reserved.. Bridgewater Media Services