Brain Repair Centre awards foster neuro-innovation and N.S. economic development

The Brain Repair Centre (BRC) has awarded $90,000 in knowledge translation grants to three research teams to advance new technologies for protecting neurons and repairing the brain. At the same time, the BRC has awarded $20,000 to support two international brain science meetings, to be hosted in Halifax this year.

“The Brain Repair Centre knowledge translation grants provide researchers with crucial support to take the ideas and innovations they’ve developed over years of research and launch them into the world as new, commercially viable technologies that will help people,” says Dr. Victor Rafuse, BRC director and professor of medical neuroscience and medicine at Dalhousie Medical School. “Our research, dissemination and commercialization grants raise the stature of Halifax as a leading centre for neuroscience research by helping our community host prestigious international conferences here.”

The BRC awarded knowledge translation grants to:

•    Dr. Shaun Boe and Dr. Timothy Bardouille, to help develop a working prototype of a portable unit that will help survivors of stroke recover lost motor functions. The device will support patients in stroke rehabilitation to rebuild broken neural pathways in their brains, so they can regain the functional use of their limbs. Dr. Bardouille is a physicist and brain-imaging scientist at Dalhousie University and BIOTIC, the biomedical translational imaging centre at the IWK Health Centre and Capital Health. Trained as a physiotherapist, Dr. Boe is a neuroscience researcher at Dalhousie and Capital Health.

•    Dr. George Robertson, Dr. Jian Wang and Dr. Paola Marignani, to prove that a natural compound protects neurons in the ear and prevents hearing loss caused by the cancer drug, cisplatin. Funds will also secure the patent on the new formulation. Dr. Robertson is a professor in pharmacology, and Dr. Marignani an associate professor in biochemistry and molecular biology, at Dalhousie Medical School. Dr. Wang is a professor in Dalhousie’s School of Human Communication Disorders.

•    Dr. Michael Schmidt and Dr. David Roach, to expand efforts to develop and commercialize new agents for protecting the brain/nervous system from harmful effects of anesthesia and surgery. Dr. Schmidt is an anesthesiologist, professor and scientist at Dalhousie Medical School and Capital Health. Dr. Roach is an assistant professor in Dalhousie’s Rowe School of Business and a technology commercialization professional.

The BRC awarded research, dissemination and commercialization grants to:

•    Dr. Jim Fawcett and Dr. Rob Brownstone, to organize and host the 9th International Motoneuron Meeting in Halifax this June. This event will attract hundreds of leading clinicians and researchers, to explore new frontiers in the understanding of how the nervous system controls movement and how this ability can be protected or restored in neurologic injury and disease. Dr. Fawcett is an associate professor of pharmacology and Canada Research Chair in Brain Repair at Dalhousie Medical School. Dr. Brownstone is a professor of surgery and Canada Research Chair in Spinal Cord Circuits at Dalhousie Medical School and a neurosurgeon at Capital Health. This BRC grant was funded through a generous donation from:

•    Dr. Steven Beyea to organize and host BIOMAG 2014, the 19th international biomagnetism conference, in Halifax this August (along with conference co-chairs from the Hospital for Sick Kids in Toronto and Simon Fraser University). This conference will draw more than 700 delegates from 30 countries to share the latest technology developments and applications of biomagnetism, such as imaging brain function in children with brain injuries. Dr. Beyea is scientific lead of BIOTIC and associate professor in the Department of Diagnostic Radiology at Dalhousie Medical School.

The Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education provides the funding that allows the BRC to support these grants and other programs.

The Brain Repair Centre launched its grant programs in 2013. The first round of knowledge translation grants were awarded to Dr. Sultan Darvesh to advance his Alzheimer-diagnosis technology, to Dr. Ying Zhang to develop her high-throughput system for screening drugs against ALS, and to Dr. Alan Fine to move several steps closer to commercializing the world’s first lens-less microscope. The first research, dissemination and commercialization grant helped Halifax host the 2013 Canadian Spinal Cord Conference.



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