October 16, 2017
Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute (RRI) will usher in a new era of cutting-edge brain health research thanks to a recently announced $1.8 million investment from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, a government agency that provides funding for research infrastructure.
The grant will support upgrades to the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) machines which enable scientists to pursue unique ways to protect brain health during aging and prevent dementia. This technology plays a crucial role in ongoing studies as researchers use it to capture detailed brain images and measure the brain waves of individuals to help transform care for older adults. Baycrest is one of the few institutions around the world using MEG to study the brain.
With this equipment, researchers could develop personalized memory and brain health treatments that account for each individual’s distinct situations, such as their mental, physical and social health. By leveraging big data analysis and the Virtual Brain platform, an open-source, brain modelling platform co-created by Baycrest, researchers will use brain simulations to predict memory decline sooner.
“Collaborations are key to curbing the public health crisis we’re facing because of dementia,” says Dr. William Reichman, President and CEO at Baycrest. “With this funding, our researchers will herald a new age of individualized brain health interventions in the efforts to tackle these problems.”
Since a person’s memory is influenced by a number of lifestyle factors that could improve or worsen their performance, an individual’s circumstances needs to be considered during the course of treatment, says Dr. Jennifer Ryan, RRI senior scientist and psychology professor at the University of Toronto who was awarded the funding. Research done with this technology will play a role in understanding a person’s risk of experiencing memory problems in the future, she adds.
“This infrastructure provides Baycrest researchers the tools we need to transform brain health and the aging experience,” says Dr. Allison Sekuler, Baycrest’s Vice-President Research and Sandra A. Rotman Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience. “Our researchers are committed to uncovering the mysteries of the brain - including how Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias affect brain structure and function - to create interventions so that physicians can help patients earlier and more effectively.”
Funding will support an upgrade to the MRI machine and the purchase of a new MEG machine, computers and renovations to the labs, which will available for use by late 2018.
About Baycrest Health Sciences
Baycrest Health Sciences is a global leader in geriatric residential living, healthcare, research, innovation and education, with a special focus on brain health and aging. Fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, Baycrest provides excellent care for older adults combined with an extensive clinical training program for the next generation of healthcare professionals and one of the world’s top research institutes in cognitive neuroscience, the Rotman Research Institute. Baycrest is home to the federally and provincially-funded Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation, a solution accelerator focused on driving innovation in the aging and brain health sector, and is the developer of Cogniciti – a free online memory assessment for Canadians 40+ who are concerned about their memory. Founded in 1918 as the Jewish Home for Aged, Baycrest continues to embrace the long-standing tradition of all great Jewish healthcare institutions to improve the well-being of people in their local communities and around the globe. For more information please visit: www.baycrest.org
About Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute
The Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences is a premier international centre for the study of human brain function. Through generous support from private donors and funding agencies, the institute is helping to illuminate the causes of cognitive decline in seniors, identify promising approaches to treatment, and lifestyle practices that will protect brain health longer in the lifespan.
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