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Together with Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Azrieli Foundation announced an increased funding commitment to the Azrieli Neurodevelopmental Research Program bringing its total investment in partnership with Brain Canada to $15 million.
The Program supports Canadian neuroscientists conducting leading edge translational 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 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.