IA Scientific Director: Dr. Yves Joanette

January was Alzheimer's Awareness Month, so I wanted to mention some of the actions of the Institute of Aging, and of CIHR in general, regarding dementia.

Apart from the annual support to research in dementia in the open grant competition, CIHR invests strategically in this area under the Dementia Research Strategy. The Strategy is led by the Institute of Aging and co-led by the Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction. The actions within this strategy increase the impact of the research done in Canada collaboratively (national component), as well as enhance the connectivity of Canadian researchers with colleagues from around the world (international component).

The Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA) is the central piece of the Canadian component of the Dementia Research Strategy. In addition to the national strategy, CIHR recently launched several important funding opportunities in some important new areas: Big Data on Dementia, The Wilfred and Joyce Posluns Chair in Women's Brain Health, Social Inclusion of individuals with dementia and carers, and Challenge of Dementia in Indigenous Populations.

Dementia was also an important issue on the political scene in 2016. In November 2016, the Members of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology made 29 recommendations to improve the quality of dementia care and research in Canada, in an extensive report called Dementia in Canada: A National Strategy for Dementia-Friendly Communities. In addition, in 2016, Bill C-233 – National Strategy for Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias Act – An Act respecting a national strategy for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias was debated in the House of Commons.

On January 18, 2017, there were two excellent segments on Dementia on TVO’s “The Agenda”. The two panels discussed Dementia as well as Dementia in Indigenous Populations.

On the international scene, in January 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the Global Dementia Observatory and is currently in the process of developing a Global action plan on the public health response to dementia that should be brought for final vote at next summer’s World Health Assembly.

In October 2016, CIHR hosted a meeting of the Management Board of the EU Joint Programme – Neurodegenerative Disease Research  (JPND), which was the first meeting to be held outside of Europe. This was an important initiative for Canada on the international scene. In addition, Canada participated in the 2016 rapid-action call for working groups on brain imaging methods. The call aimed to support the field’s leading scientists in advancing novel approaches that would enhance the use of imaging for neurodegenerative disease research. Results from this call are now available.

More recently, on January 9, 2017, JPND launched a call for multi-national research projects for pathway analysis across neurodegenerative diseases. The deadline to submit pre-proposals is March 6, 2017. Read more

We are also proud to see that the efforts of Canadian researchers allows CIHR to deliver as an active member of the Global Action Against Dementia, and in line with the impetus of the newly reconstituted World Dementia Council, of which I am proud to be the Chair since February 2016.

Yves Joanette, PhD
Scientific Director, Institute of Aging

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