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Healthy Aging

$8M in funding awarded for crucial brain health research

New research projects awarded after a rigorous review process

January 20, 2022

As part of its commitment to decreasing neurodegenerative diseases of aging and improving the well-being of Canadians, the Weston Family Foundation is pleased to announce nearly $8 million in funding for brain-health research.

In November 2020, the Foundation launched Brain Health: 2021 – Lifestyle Approaches and Microbiome Contributions. The program, jointly run by the Weston Brain Institute and the Weston Family Microbiome Initiative, was designed to support projects examining the impact of lifestyle and the microbiome on the maintenance of optimal brain health, and specifically the prevention or delay of neurodegenerative diseases of aging, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Applications for the program were reviewed by a panel of international experts and four projects were selected to receive funding:

  • Dr. Alex Parker (Université de Montréal) – $1.6M
    • Project description: Conducting a clinical study to assess the benefit of a probiotic in treating amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia.
  • Dr. Manuel Montero Odasso (St. Joseph’s Health Care London/Lawson Research Institute) – $1.5M
    • Project description: Testing whether an at-home, personalized intervention targeting specific lifestyle risk factors for dementia can improve brain health in older adults suffering from mild cognitive impairment.
  • Dr. Simon Bacon (Concordia University) – $1.5M
    • Project description: Examining bariatric surgery patients and how dramatic changes in diet can influence brain structure and function, towards identifying patterns that can improve cognitive health as well as those associated with risk of cognitive decline.
  • Dr. Thien Thanh Dang Vu (Concordia University) – $1.5M
    • Project description: Testing whether an online cognitive-behavioural intervention program can improve the sleep quality and ultimately the cognitive performance of patients with cognitive complaints who are suffering from insomnia.

In addition to the above grants, an additional $1.8 million was awarded to six grantees through the Weston Family Microbiome Initiative Proof-of-Principle program. The awarded projects seek to leverage the microbiome to improve diverse aspects of brain health, including combatting Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis, improving mental health, and supporting cognitive development in early-life.

These grants follow on the footsteps of $12 million in Foundation funding to the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) for a new brain-health initiative announced in November 2021.

The Healthy Brains, Healthy Aging Initiative will augment the CLSA platform, and marks the first time a national study of aging in Canada has introduced both brain imaging and microbiome analyses to investigate cognitive aging in the population over time. Read more about the Healthy Brains, Healthy Aging Initiative here.