CIHR Scientific Director named Chair of World Dementia Council

Dr. Yves Joanette to lead international board coordinating global efforts to tackle dementia

OTTAWA, March 1, 2016 /CNW/ - On February 25, the World Dementia Council officially named Dr. Yves Joanette, Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Aging, as its new Chair. The World Dementia Council stems from a G8 (now G7) Summit on Dementia commitment in 2013. It has since expanded to include more country representation. As Chair, Dr. Joanette will oversee the work of the Council in coordinating global efforts and helping find tangible solutions to the challenge of dementia.

In Canada, it is estimated that 6-15 percent of individuals over 65 years old are living with Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia. Around the world, that number is estimated at 47.5 million. This shows how dementia knows no boundaries and why Council members will work together to fast track the development and commercialization of life enhancing drugs, treatments and care for people around the world living with dementia.

As Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Aging, and professor at the University of Montreal, Dr. Joanette has closely contributed to dementia research efforts in Canada and internationally. He currently co-leads the CIHR Dementia Research Strategy, through which the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (or CCNA) is supported. The CCNA brings together over 350 Canadian researchers to improve diagnosis, treatments, and quality of life for dementia patients and their caregivers. With Dr. Joanette's expertise, combined with the significant Canadian footprint in dementia research, Canada will contribute greatly to the work of the World Dementia Council.


"It is impressive to see the will and dedication of all the members on the Council. With the size of the challenge before us, only through a concerted effort across all sectors and countries, will we be able to make a difference in the lives of those living with this devastating disease. Over the coming months and years, we will work tirelessly for people living with dementia, their families and caregivers."
Dr. Yves Joanette
Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Aging

"Dementia and other neurological diseases have significant impacts on the lives of individuals and caregivers. On behalf of the Government of Canada, I want to congratulate Dr. Joanette on his appointment as Chair of the World Dementia Council. I am always impressed by Canadian researchers' contribution to improving human health both nationally and globally." 
The Honourable Jane Philpott
Minister of Health

"There is a tidal wave of dementia coming our way worldwide.  We need to see greater investments in research to develop a cure, but also to improve the quality of life of people living with dementia and the support given to their caregivers."
Dr. Margaret Chan
WHO Director-General

"I have no doubt Dr. Joanette will excel in his leadership position on the World Dementia Council. His solid reputation in this field of research will be invaluable as he continues to shape health care advancements here in Canada and around the world. This nomination will bring global visibility to Canada's contributions to the pursuit of a treatment for dementia and I congratulate Dr. Joanette on this appointment." 
Dr. Alain Beaudet
President, CIHR

Related Products

World Dementia Council Goes Global 
List of World Dementia Council members 
Biography of Dr. Yves Joanette

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada's health research investment agency. CIHR's mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to enable its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened health care system for Canadians. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 12,600 health researchers and trainees across Canada.


Dementia describes a variety of neurological conditions characterized by the gradual loss of mental functions over time. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for approximately 60 percent of all dementia cases. Vascular dementia is another common form, which is linked to reduced blood flow to the brain. Most often, symptoms include loss of memory, impaired judgement and reasoning, change in mood and behaviour, and impaired ability to communicate.

There is no known cure and the causes of dementia are not precisely known. Possible risk factors include physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, environmental influences, genetic factors, and traumatic brain injury. Age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.

It is estimated that in 2011, 6-15 percent of Canadians aged 65 years and older were living with some form of dementia. The absolute number of Canadian seniors who are living with dementia is expected to double by 2031.

Government of Canada efforts to tackle dementia

The Government of Canada recognizes the significant impact dementia has on individuals, their families, and their caregivers. Three of every four Canadians know someone with dementia.

Through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Government of Canada supports dementia research so Canadians have access to the latest preventive, diagnostic and treatment approaches. Since its inception in 2000, CIHR has invested approximately $367 million in dementia research, including over $41 million in 2014-15 alone.

One example of that investment is the launch of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (or CCNA) in 2014 – a partnership with 14 organizations and which brings together over 350 researchers from across Canada to improve diagnosis, treatments, and quality of life for dementia patients and their caregivers. The CCNA is part of the CIHR Dementia Research Strategy which supports world-class research on dementia, and also enables Canadian researchers to lead and participate in international initiatives.

In summer 2015, the Government of Canada launched Dementia Friends Canada, in partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Canada. Dementia Friends Canada targets individuals and workplaces across the country through a digital engagement campaign where Canadians can watch a short, informative video; register as a Dementia Friend; and commit to an action to help those affected by dementia. The goal is to have 1 million Canadians registered as Dementia Friends by 2017, which would provide a platform to share further information about dementia with a focus on early identification and prevention.

The Government of Canada is providing $42 million over five years, starting this year, to Baycrest Health Sciences to help establish the Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation. Funding for the Centre will support new research and the development, testing, and scale-up of products and services to support brain health and aging, with a focus on dementia. The Government of Canada is the largest of more than 40 partners from the public, business, academic and non-profit sectors, which will invest a total of $123.5M in the initiative.

About the World Dementia Council

Founded in 2014, the World Dementia Council consists of international members with a wide range of expertise and disciplines including researchers, pharmaceutical industries, government representatives, finance experts and patients. The World Health Organization (WHO), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the European Commission contribute to the Council as non-members, with technical advisory roles. The goal of the Council is to coordinate global efforts to tackle dementia. They do so by providing independent, non-governmental advocacy and global leadership.

Dr. Yves Joanette, Scientific Director for the CIHR Institute of Aging, is the newly appointed Chair. He was voted by the other members. Dr. Joanette replaces the inaugural Chair, Dr. Dennis Gillings. The Council's Vice-Chair is Dr. Raj Long, a senior regulatory officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Associated Links

World Dementia Council Goes Global

List of World Dementia Council members

Biography of Dr. Yves Joanette

CIHR Dementia Research Strategy

WHO Dementia Fact Sheet


SOURCE Canadian Institutes of Health Research

For further information: Media Relations, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, 613-941-4563,


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