Azrieli Foundation Partners with Federal Government in $15 Million Investment in Fragile X and Autism Research in Canada

May 2, 2014.

Together with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Azrieli Foundation announced today an increased funding commitment to the Azrieli Neurodevelopmental Research Program bringing its total investment to $15 million. The Program supports Canadian neuroscientists conducting leading edge work that aims to change the landscape for families facing Fragile X syndrome and Autism.  Fragile X, which affects 1 in 4,000 boys and 1 in 6,000 girls, is the most common inherited cause of intellectual disability and the most common known cause of autism.  The goal of the Program is to develop new diagnostics and treatments for these disorders, to reduce their economic and social burdens on Canadians and to improve the quality of life for those affected and their families.

“We know that Canada is home to some of the world’s foremost neuroscientists and that we have the potential to be a world leader in neurodevelopmental research,”said Dr. Naomi Azrieli, Chair and CEO of the Azrieli Foundation.  “By providing scientists with significant financial support, we are providing the lifeblood of advanced research.”

“The Canada Brain Research Fund leverages philanthropic and government dollars to significantly increase funding to Canadian researchers.  We thank the Prime Minister for his interest in our Program and for joining us in this announcement. We are greatly encouraged by the government’s support for neurodevelopment which is a key focus for the Azrieli Foundation,” said Azrieli.

The Azrieli Foundation also announced the four new research projects funded through its initial investment in the Program:

Dr. Evdokia Anagnostou (University of Toronto) & Dr. Jason Lurch (The Hospital for Sick Children) $2.5 million.  Will examine new medications targeting some of the different biological causes of autism, and will explore markers that will help create personalized treatment plans for those with the disorder.

Dr. Laurie Doering (McMaster University) $2.5 million.  Will look at ways to correct or offset the abnormal communication in the brain that characterizes autism, and in this way lead to new interventional strategies.

Dr. Alan Evans (McGill University) $2.5 million.  Aims to identify the earliest signs of autism onset, analyzing subtle abnormalities in brain organization in children that will allow for early intervention for both autism and Fragile X.

Dr. Nahum Sonenberg (McGill University) $1.2 million.  For the development of non-toxic drugs that may lead to cures for autism and Fragile X.

“This new financial investment will allow the funding of more Canadian research teams, and provide support for international meetings so Canadian and international scientists can come together to advance this work even further,” said Azrieli.

Scientific grants made by the Azrieli Neurodevelopmental Research Program are a joint effort between the Azrieli Foundation, the Brain Canada Foundation and the federal government’s Canada Brain Research Fund, in a public-private partnership funding model.

For more information on this groundbreaking research initiative, visit our Neurodevelopment page.

About Brain Canada

Brain Canada is a national non-profit organization that enables and supports excellent, innovative, paradigm-changing brain research in Canada.  For more than one decade, Brain Canada has made the case for the brain as a single, complex system with commonalities across the range of neurological disorders, mental illnesses and addictions, brain and spinal cord injuries.  Looking at the brain as one system has underscored the need for increased collaboration across disciplines and institutions, and a smarter way to invest in brain research that is focused on outcomes that will benefit patients and families.

Vision. To understand the brain, in health and illness, to improve lives and achieve societal impact.

Mission. Brain Canada is achieving its vision by:

  • Increasing the scale and scope of funding to accelerate the pace of Canadian brain research;
  • Creating a collective commitment to brain research across the public, private and voluntary sectors; and
  • Delivering transformative, original and outstanding research programs.

The Canada Brain Research Fund

The Canada Brain Research Fund is a public-private partnership designed to encourage Canadians to increase their support of brain research, and maximize the impact and efficiency of those investments. Brain Canada has committed to raising $100 million from private and non-governmental sources, which will be matched by government on a 1:1 basis. The Fund was announced in federal budget 2011, which proposed to “allocate up to $100 million to establish the Canada Brain Research Fund, which will support the very best Canadian neuroscience, fostering collaborative research and accelerating the pace of discovery, in order to improve the health and quality of life of Canadians who suffer from brain disorders.”

For further Information:

About Brain Canada and the Canada Brain Research Fund:

About this competition:

Posted in Press Release