Brain research gets $3.4 million funding

The Brain Research Centre has received $3.4 million in capital funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

The CFI contribution will be matched by provincial and UBC contributions to produce a $10.5-million fund for renovations and installation of major brain research facilities at the UBC Hospital site.

"The university plays a key role in new scientific advances and partnerships like these further our efforts towards breakthroughs in medicine," says UBC vice-president, Research, Bernie Bressler. "With support like this, our scientists can move forward towards new frontiers.''

A joint initiative of UBC and the Vancouver Hospital and Health Sciences Centre, the Brain Research Centre aims to increase understanding and improve treatment of brain disorders.

The centre will target six main areas of investigation, says centre director and Ophthalmology Prof. Max Cynader. It will conduct research into diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis, as well as schizophrenia, stroke, neurotrauma/spinal cord injury and vision.

"Neuroscience is poised for breakthroughs," says Dr. David McLean, vice-president, Research at Vancouver Hospital. "Our hope is that this centre will play a unique role in treating and ultimately curing these disorders which carry such a high cost to individuals and society.''

A second project that will be used by scientists at the Brain Research Centre and other researchers also received funding from CFI.

Capital funding of $3.4 million, also to be matched, will go toward the establishment of a Medical and Biological Functional Imaging Centre to be located at the UBC Hospital site. This project is a partnership among the university, Vancouver Hospital and B.C.'s Children's and Women's Health Centre.

"CFI funding is the first and most important step toward putting Vancouver at the forefront of functional imaging,'' says Imaging Centre project leader Alex MacKay.

A professor of Radiology and Physics, MacKay says new equipment including a high field Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanner will allow scientists to watch the brain work. The new scanner will be many times more sensitive than the one now being used at UBC Hospital.

The CFI was established by the federal government in 1997 to address an urgent need for new research infrastructure in Canada's research community.

It has a capital budget of $1 billion and its investments are made in partnership with all levels of government, as well as with the private and voluntary sectors.