CIHR proudly supporting women brain health and the second annual Women’s Brain Health Day on December 2

CIHR is proud to support the second Women’s Brain Health Day on December 2nd.  The Alzheimer Society of Canada reports that two-thirds of those diagnosed with dementia over the age of 65 are women.  Breaking the stigma around women’s brain health by integrating sex and gender in research will go a long way in supporting the health of women around the world.

We are pleased to fund the Wilfred and Joyce Posluns Chair in Women’s Brain Health and Aging, in partnership with The Posluns Family Foundation, the Ontario Brain Institute and the Alzheimer Society of Canada. The recipient of this research Chair, Dr. Gillian Einstein, is translating research results into gender and sex-sensitive policies and interventions that improve brain health and promote wellness in aging.  With women generally living longer and affected by age-related brain health disorders more frequently than men, the work done by Dr. Einstein and her team is crucial in understanding the health of aging women.

We also fund Dr. M. Natasha Rajah for her sex and gender science Chair on the sex differences of episodic memory-related brain function across the adult lifespan. Dr. Cara Tannenbaum, Institute of Gender and Health Scientific Director, indicates that research led by Dr. Rajah is essential to understand how sex and gender differences in aging can affect memory and brain function in order to develop precise, sex-specific neurocognitive therapies to support successful aging in both women and men.

Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic is adversely affecting mental health of women, and surveys suggest women to have higher levels of anxiety and loneliness than men as a result of the pandemic. The COVID-19 and Mental Health (CMH) Initiative has funded 45 knowledge syntheses with four of the funded projects addressing women’s mental health and substance use needs in the COVID-19 context.

Dr. Samuel Weiss, Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction maintains that a comprehensive, national COVID-19 response must consider gender, including the dynamics and factors specifically affecting women during the pandemic. These knowledge syntheses are contributing to our knowledge base so we can better support women and their mental health during this unprecedented time.

More information on women’s brain health is also available by visiting Women’s Brain Health Initiative, an initiative created by our partner Lynn Posluns and her team. This year, the team is inviting everyone to take part in a memory challenge to help combat age-related brain diseases that disproportionately affect women. We also invite you to take the challenge and learn more about women’s brain health.

Dr. Jane Rylett
Scientific Director
CIHR Institute of Aging

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